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MSNBC Pres. Tells Talent To Play Nice After Scarborough/Olbermann Tiff (Update)

MSNBC President Phil Griffin sent a memo to staff reminding them “we do not publicly criticize our colleagues,” in the wake of Joe Scarborough tweeting that Keith Olbermann‘s recent Scott Brown rant was “reckless” and “sad.” Huffington Post has the full memo.

The note was sent Friday, which we hear came after behind-the-scenes back-and-forth took place between all sides.

Here’s part of Griffin’s memo:

We have many strong personalities with differing, passionate opinions, but it is important to remember that we are all on the same team. I want to reiterate my long-standing policy: We do not publicly criticize our colleagues. This kind of behavior is unprofessional and will not be tolerated.

Let me be clear: I encourage you to keep doing what you do best. Give the viewers your perspective and a vigorous debate on the issues they care about. But do not turn substantive differences into personal ones.

It got personal when Scarborough tweeted his thoughts and called out Olbermann by name, which was different than past times Scarborough voiced his objections to something the Countdown host had said without using his name. But he also talked about Olbermann’s Brown comments on Morning Joe the next day (video below): “A certain person on this network, whose name will not be mentioned, went on a tirade the likes of which are sad and pathetic.”

That wasn’t by name either, but the implication was crystal clear – and “sad and pathetic” is some strong language.

We hear Scarborough apologized to Griffin for his comments. Griffin also talked to Olbermann, and Olbermann didn’t think it merited punishment. So the letter to staff (but really to Scarborough) went out instead.

We asked on Tuesday if it was “MSNBC civil war,” and it doesn’t sound like it. But with Scarborough’s private apology and Olbermann’s public acknowledgment that, yeah, maybe the Scott Brown thing was a little over the top (although because of what Stewart, not Scarborough said), it seems that both sides have dialed it back.

The real question will be what happens the next time.

> Update: Scarborough tweets to Mediaite: “There is no ‘tiff.’ I offered a brief commentary as did others.” I’ve asked some more questions – on Twitter of course.

Also, Griffin responds to TVNewser: “I spoke to Keith and he said in the spirit of teamwork and the free flow of ideas, he didn’t think it warranted punishment or suspension…That’s why I made the decision that this didn’t rise to the level of punishment.” What would have happened if Keith said he did think it warranted punishment or suspension?

Here’s Scarborough’s comment on Morning Joe Tuesday:

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