TV insiders believe that senior NBC staffers leaked the instantly infamous tape of Lawrence O’Donnell’s meltdown, in retaliation for his antics during contract negotiations this spring.
Mediate published an 8-minute video of O’Donnell raging at staff during breaks in an Aug. 29 live broadcast of “The Last Word,” screaming at the staff to silence people in the control room and stop a “hammering” sound.
Sources connected with the leak tell Page Six the video was slipped to the site as a broadcast-quality digital clip — and that only a handful of people are believed to be capable of accessing and transmitting such a file. Multiple sources tell us that O’Donnell angered NBC honcho Andy Lack — who also oversees MSNBC — in May by tweeting to fans about his contract negotiations.
One TV insider called the deal-making “tense and unusually public,” while another said O’Donnell slyly generated a “groundswell of ‘save Lawrence sentiment’ ” among viewers that “backed Lack into a corner.”
A source tells us that the small number of people with access to the clip suggest it was either leaked or authorized by “someone at a senior level.” In the clip — reminiscent of Bill O’Reilly’s legendary “We’ll do it live!” blowup — a visibly furious O’Donnell slams his fist on his desk and rants about “insanity in the control room” and “stop the hammering!” and what he calls “f - - king out of control s - - t.”
O’Donnell apologized Wednesday, saying, “A better anchorman and a better person would’ve had a better reaction to technical difficulties.”
O’Donnell told us: “This is a ridiculous conspiracy theory. There’s only one person to blame for this video — me. Andy Lack brought me to MSNBC when he created the network in 1996. We were friends before that and have always remained friends.”