Denver — NBC has applied for and received permission to arm at least two of its television personalities covering the Democratic convention in Denver, said Lord Bankcard, a spokesman with the U.S. Secret Service. Bankcard confirmed the unusual authorization on Tuesday after rumors began swirling that talking heads Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman were planning to stage a duel on the convention floor.
Tempers flared and harsh words erupted between the two personalities during their emotional and childish coverage of the convention earlier this week. The exchanges, which took place live, have become an Internet sensation.
During the tiff, Matthews and Olberman sparred over whose turn it was to talk during an interview of largely ignored House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Hoyer, interviewed afterwards, said of the pair, “One is likely to observe more common sense – and less egoism – in a preschool class long on tantrums and short on cookies.”
Far from downplaying the fracas, the network is pitching what it says will be the “dramatic conclusion” to NBC’s coverage of the convention: a live duel between Matthews and Olberman. NBC President Hip Riffling, who announced details this morning, said the duel will take place after no-longer-presumed-but-confirmed Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama delivers his keynote address tonight. The combatants will both use 19th century flintlock pistols “in honor of our nation’s proud heritage.” Each combatant will be issued only one round of ammunition.
Firearms experts said the odds of death or even injury were remote. “These are not the most reliable weapons, and neither of the shooters has any appreciable skill in firearms,” noted Charlton Hemingway, a spokesman for the Colorado Association of Hunters and Gatherers. “We think the odds of them hitting anything they’re aiming at is remote,” agreed Riffling, the network president. “In the unlikely event they should, we have plenty of gifted folks in our talent pool ready to take up the reigns for Chris, Keith or both,” he added hopefully.