Well, that was predictable.

Given their first chances to weigh in on Keith Olbermann’s abrupt departure, Bill O’Reilly couldn’t resist gloating — without ever naming Olbermann, calling him only a “hateful commentator” — while Olbermann’s replacement, Lawrence O’Donnell, used his first regular appearance in the 8 p.m. timeslot to laud the guy he’s replacing.

“Some of the hate over there has been neutralized,” O’Reilly crowed about MSNBC, bringing in professional lap dog Bernard Goldberg to chat with him about the “chaos” at the “liberal network.”

Keith_olbermann_058 As is so often true of the Fox News Channel host, O’Reilly didn’t let an absence of facts or information get in the way of his opinion, which was shaped by Olbermann’s constant jabbing at him — frequently naming him the “Worst Person in the World” — through the years.

 Goldberg played along, joining in O’Reilly’s theory (and also not naming Olbermann; very mature, guys) that all print reporters are dishonest because news accounts noted that Olbermann had been relatively successful in attracting an audience that helped define MSNBC’s profile and jump-start the network.

“The Fox News Channel is a colossal success. You never read that,” O’Reilly insisted, and — shocker! — Goldberg agreed with him, noting that the New York Times has written a lot about Rachel Maddow.

See? It’s a liberal conspiracy! “It’s a corruption story!” O’Reilly insisted, falling back into his traditional “I’m the victim, everyone’s out to get us” mode.

For his part, O’Donnell — who had to cancel a scheduled NATPE appearance to host Monday’s program, reflecting how quickly events unfolded — said he was inheriting an hour that had been “magnificently owned and operated by Keith Olbermann” over the last eight years.

“Consider what Keith invented and taught us to do: Op-ed TV,” O’Donnell said, saying that his predecessor “took MSNBC to new heights.”

Well, kind of medium heights. But you get the idea.

Not surprisingly, Maddow — who like O’Donnell, got her start as a fill-in for Olbermann — promised to add her two cents to the testimonials and did so at the close of her show. Because if there’s anything that cable news likes more than talking about the news, it’s talking about itself. Which is why I’m hoping Maddow and O’Donnell continue the practice of bad-mouthing O’Reilly, if only to ensure that MSNBC remains the home — on Fox, anyway — of Lord Voldemort, and The Anchors Who Cannot Be Named.

“We are all sorry that Keith and MSNBC decided to end his run here,” Maddow said, after effusively thanking him for creating the opportunity for her. “I can also tell you that that decision has no effect on the editorial independence that makes it possible for me to do this work. We are here. We are not going anywhere.”

And then she handed off to her new lead-out, Ed Schultz, who promised that “The mission stays the same,” and that “Nobody has told me to tone it down.”

Tone it down? In cable news? Hey, that Ed dude is even funnier than I thought.

Update: “Olbermann Breaks His Silence” says Huffington Post.

If you call posting this on Twitter — “The reports of the death of my career are greatly exaggerated” — then, um, I guess….