• With: Bernie Goldberg

    This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 18, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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    O'REILLY: In "Back of the Book" segment tonight, late night TV. Most Americans don't watch it. Well, most Americans don't watch TV news. However, the late night guys do have influence on the political discourse in this country.

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    Last night, Jimmy Fallon made his Tonight Show debut on NBC with a variety of famous people running around. Fallon, as you may know, replaces Jay Leno.

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    The question is, why should we care. One name, Sarah Palin. Late night guys absolutely destroyed her. With us now from Miami, purveyor of BernardGoldberg.com, Mr. Goldberg.

    OK, so it's true that the ratings for late night, as with every other television program, are not what they used to be because of the intrusion from the Internet. But they can set a tone, these guys, can they not.

    BERNIE GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. As a matter of fact, Bill, there have been quite a few academic studies on this very question that you're asking, believe it or not, about the political influence of late night comedy on politics.

    And here's my general take on this. If you're watching, or I'm watching, or somebody in this audience is watching, and a late night comedian slimes a political figure, it really doesn't have very much influence at all because we follow the news.

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    But if the viewer is young, if the viewer doesn't follow the news and doesn't follow politics, then it could have, as you rightly say, a very negative effect.

    I'll give you an example. You brought up Sarah Palin. A lot of young people think Sarah Palin is -- let's be kind and say foolish, although they would use a much stronger words -- because, --

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    -- she supposedly said, "I could see Russia from my house." She never said that. Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin said that. But a lot of young people don't know the difference.

    O'REILLY: They don't know. They don't know.

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    GOLDBERG: No, they don't know. But let me give you the other side very briefly. The other side is that everybody who tunes in to a late night comedy show knows it's a late night comedy show.

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    So, even if somebody is unfair to someone like Sarah Palin, and they do a nasty joke and they take something she said out of context, it's still not nearly as bad as somebody on cable TV sliming Sarah Palin because that's non-fiction.

    O'REILLY: OK. But here's where -- there are two things in play --

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    -- that I want to bring to your attention, all right, as the purveyor of BernardGoldberg.com. Number one, you get a mass approach.

    So, the perception is this certain politician is a moron, all right. And then they all gang up.

    And not only do they gang up on the politician, usually a conservative, but it goes out on all the Web sites now. And so, it isn't just the 3 million watching Jimmy Fallon, --

    GOLDBERG: That's right.

    O'REILLY: -- or Kimmel, --

    GOLDBERG: That's right.

    O'REILLY: -- or Letterman. It's all over the world, this person is a moron, and here are six people saying that person is a moron --

    GOLDBERG: That's right.

    O'REILLY: -- in a variety ways. The impact then --

    GOLDBERG: That's absolutely correct.

    O'REILLY: The impact then can destroy -- can destroy. Go ahead.

    GOLDBERG: Well, I'm not -- let me take the destroy part second. There's no question that the slime can seep into the bloodstream of American culture. You're right about that.

    I'm not sure it has the effect of destroying anybody. Sarah Palin is still around and kicking. And they went after her worse than they went after anybody --

    O'REILLY: Have you seen her approval ratings.

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    Have you seen her approval ratings, Bernie.

    GOLDBERG: No, but you could -- but whatever they are, you can't attribute --

    O'REILLY: They're not good.