First of all, a major thank you. The No-Spin Zone book has reached number one on The New York Times bestseller list and The Wall Street Journal list as well. I appreciate your support of the book more than you'll ever know. It is an honor to have you standing with me.
Now the subtitle of The No-Spin Zone book is "confrontations with the powerful and famous in America," and that subtitle is the subject of this evening's Talking Points memo.
As you may know, The Factor has taken on two very powerful entities, the charities which have received hundreds of millions of dollars donated for the Sept. 11 families and some of the Hollywood stars that asked all of us to donate. My contention is that those stars should be using their power to pressure the charities to become less chaotic and to begin dispensing the money to the families.
George Clooney, Tom Hanks, and others have accused me of trying to boost my ratings by covering the story, and that theme was echoed yesterday morning by Matt Lauer on NBC's Today show.
Here's my exchange with Mr. Lauer:
MATT LAUER:Some of the celebrities are concerned — and I think Tom Hanks said it also — that you're raising this issue not because of — there's some great goodness in your heart but because you're getting great publicity.And let's face it. You've been everywhere talking about this.
O'REILLY: Oh, man. That's not true. I've been everywhere talking about my book, OK, which is number one on The New York Times list. It has nothing to do with this.
LAUER: But for your talking...
O'REILLY: Tom Hanks comes out — and here's another stunningly misinformed man, all right — and says, "It's a sweeps stunt." That's what he says. We don't have sweeps in cable.
LAUER: But you have ratings. But you have — so it doesn't...
O'REILLY: It doesn't matter. We were doing this six weeks ago. It's not like we all of a sudden discovered it. And we took three weeks — three weeks — before we broke any of it. We interviewed the fam— You know how I got on to this story? Twenty-nine people in my town on Long Island were killed. Were killed. Those people came to me, they trust me, and they said, you know, "We're seeing all this money. We're not seeing anything. Nobody's getting in touch with us."
LAUER: So you're doing it for the families?
O'REILLY: Yeah. I...
LAUER: Is it not a little disingenuous, though — when we booked you for this show, you know what your publicist — we won't call that person a pinhead publicist. Do you know what the publicist told our producer?
O'REILLY: Mention the book.
LAUER: "Bill will not appear on the show unless you show the book."
O'REILLY: Well, that's what publicists do. I — they said, "Mention the book." And you know why they said that?
LAUER: Are you promoting a book, or are you talking about the families?
O'REILLY: Do you know why they said that?
LAUER: No. Why?
O'REILLY: Because you wouldn't book me on this program for two and a half years. That's why. So they didn't — they didn't know what your intentions were.
LAUER: But what I'm asking is if you're accusing the celebrities of doing something for publicity as opposed to the good of the people, aren't — isn't it a little case of the pot calling the kettle black?
O'REILLY: I'm not calling anybody anything. I got up at 5:00 in the morning to come in here to tell you what the truth is about these charities. Now if you think I'm a self-promoter, then you go right ahead and think that. My publicist has a duty to try to get all the projects that we're working on in the public eye. I'm interested in helping these families.
LAUER: As the publicists of these celebrities have the same duty.
O'REILLY: To do what?
LAUER: To get these celebrities in the public eye.
O'REILLY: And not hold them accountable? Not — look, all I want is for them to use their power, the celebrities and the politicians as well, to get this money in the bank to the families. You tell me I'm wrong doing that?
Now I didn't mind Mr. Lauer asking those questions. I ask tough questions all the time. But I got the feeling that he's siding with Clooney and Hanks. I could be wrong. I hope I am.
There is no question at this point that all 160 charities overseeing $1.5 billion are having big trouble being efficient.
A little later on, we'll bring in two more grieving families, and their stories about the charitable chaos will make you angry. We've interviewed scores of family members, as you know, and they all say the same thing, "We need help, and the charities are not there yet."
Once again, "Talking Points" calls upon the powerful in America to help these families and stop making excuses, and if that's going to get me ratings, so be it.
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Our best pal, Hillary Clinton, reputedly a huge Factor fan, told Dateline NBC a few weeks ago that Chelsea was jogging near the World Trade Center when the terror attack began on Sept. 11. But another one of our pals, Matt Drudge says, that's not true, that Chelsea was miles away at a friend's house watching the whole thing on TV.
Apparently, Chelsea contradicts her mother's story in Talk magazine. Chelsea wrote an article there, according to Drudge. Sounds like Hillary may be in the ridiculous category once again, territory she has explored before.
— You can watch Bill O'Reilly's Talking Points weeknights at 8 & 11p.m. ET. And send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org