Author Ann Coulter Enters the No Spin Zone

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 27, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY HOST:  In the personal story segment tonight.  While President Bush has declined in the polls, he retains the loyalty of many committed conservatives.  With us now is Ann Coulter, the author of the book "Treason," which will be out in paperback this fall. You did very well with that "Treason."  How many did you sell? Half  million, more than that?

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, "TREASON":  More than that. 

O'REILLY:  Wow, good for you.  Why has Bush fallen in the polls?

COULTER:  I suspect a lot of people aren't paying attention right now and basically the same 500 people are being polled and you'll see them go up and down and up and down until the election gets closer and then I think people will pay attention, we'll have more of a sense. 

O'REILLY:  But all seven polls, the ones that come out on a fairly regular basis, he's down significantly, and I think Abu Ghraib hurt him, don't you?

COULTER:  Well, more than Abu Ghraib (search), the media is in campaign mode.  I suppose the question is, why isn't he soaring in the polls?  He's running against a nitwit, the war is going magnificently well, the economy is picking back up, why isn't he at like 80 percent?  And I think that is because the media is in campaign mode, like they haven't been since 1992. 

O'REILLY:  Well, they're definitely after him, as we said in the "Talking Points Memo."  But, you know, I've talked to all of our Fox News political analysts.  These are not raving liberals, all right, Ann?  None of them come close to telling me the war is going magnificently well.  What do you know that all of the Fox News military analysts don't know?

COULTER:  People like to be picky and especially if it's their area of expertise -- I mean, ask them what it is that isn't going well.  If you look at what everyone was saying before the war began, many liberals that you had on your program were predicting, you know, hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, retaliatory terrorist attacks at home, we would never get Saddam, it was going to be harder, bloodier than catching Osama bin Laden.  The people would not rise up, they would be fighting in the streets, the urban warfare, Turkey was going to attack.  These are just some of the things that were being predicted, and none of that has happened.  We've captured Saddam, we took the entire country in six weeks.  We now are taking cities without touching a school, touching a mosque.  The people in these cities where Al Sadr (search), the rebel cleric was, they're passing out fliers saying "go home."

O'REILLY:  But don't you believe that the administration underestimated the problems in the post Saddam era?  Don't you...

COULTER:  No, and in fact I've been looking up what people were saying before the war. 

O'REILLY:  No, no no, I don't care what people were saying.  But Cheney and all these people -- you don't think that Cheney underestimated it?

COULTER:  I've been looking up what they were saying before the war and the point that was made over and over again by [Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul] Wolfowitz, you know, "the crazed, have to go after Iraq," I mean, he said that the rebuilding is going to be long and hard.  He said we don't know if he has nukes.  He could have them in three years, six, 10 years we're not waiting.  We don't want to wait.  That's what the argument was.  It has been so recast that you forget what the argument was, you know, a year and a half ago. 

O'REILLY:  But it's been recast I think because -- the perception is and maybe this isn't a reality but again I have to tell you that our Fox News military analysts disagree with you.  They say there are a lot of things going wrong in Iraq right now that shouldn't be going wrong.  The commanders on the ground don't have a lot of respect for the secretary of defense.  Did you know that?

COULTER:  I don't believe it. 

O'REILLY:  Well, that's what the -- see, this is the problem.  I don't know that either, whether it's true or not but that's what our military guys are getting from the commanders, and I believe them because they're really good.  They were absolutely right on right up through Saddam (search) being deposed, our Fox News military analysts were right on, but then there were mistakes made and, of course, there are going to be mistakes made in every war. 

COULTER:  In every human endeavor and, you know, I can't argue with these people because they're not here, they're anonymous, I mean, you're telling me about them, but I would like to know what they think has gone wrong. 

O'REILLY:  I'll tell you.  Here's what he thinks has gone wrong.  Not enough troops on the ground, number one. 

COULTER:  Yeah, but that's not a problem.  That's something that can cause a problem. 

O'REILLY:  Well, it's a problem in the sense we can't provide the security that we need to provide for the country to be free.

COULTER:  But it's pretty darn safe over there.

O'REILLY:  Our Fox correspondents in Baghdad won't go out of the hotel.  That's not a good sign, Ann. 

COULTER:  I wouldn't go out of the hotel in Washington, D.C. This is the Middle East. This is a country that's been under a brutal dictator for 30 years, and on top of that, now they see ... 

O'REILLY:  Let me answer a couple of other things.  They said there's not enough boots on the ground, number one.  We don't have enough people providing security.  This is the military people, not me.  Number two...

COULTER:  Not my military people.  My military people are [Defense Secretary Donald]Rumsfeld.

O'REILLY:  The weapons of mass destruction fiasco when they couldn't find them. 

COULTER:  Wait.  We have found weapons of mass destruction...

O'REILLY:  No we didn't, not to any great extent.

COULTER:  That is an important point.   We have found weapons of mass destruction.  That is something the media is repeatedly lying about.  We have not found stockpiles.  We found the plants for manufacturing, we found the experiments, we found the room for human experimentation labs.  We found lots of weapons of mass destruction. 

O'REILLY:  But not enough to justify what [Secretary of State Colin] Powell said at the U.N. 

COULTER:  He's the only one, by the way, it's enough to justify what Cheney, Rumsfeld, and President Bush said.  The one guy in this administration who made the case that turns out to have been not completely correct, I don't think it was a lie, lie, Bush lied...

O'REILLY:  No, but he took what the CIA gave him and he took it to the U.N. and it didn't work out. 

COULTER:  It's one guy and I note the one that the liberals like the most. 

O'REILLY:  Well, whatever.  I just think that for you to say that the war has been going magnificently well, you're really going against the tides -- which you're absolutely can do. 

COULTER:  No, but that is precisely my point.  This is the new Tet Offensive (search).  Tet was also a victory, and ABC, NBC, CBS, "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," they all said it was a horrible defeat, Walter Cronkite (search) went on TV and said we're in a stalemate, it's a quagmire while meanwhile...

O'REILLY:  I agree with you in a sense that the military certainly is performing magnificently, but I do think that the administration underestimated the difficulty of this campaign. 

COULTER:  No. 

O'REILLY:  Now are you buying into the -- this is just a hazing thing at Abu Ghraib?

COULTER:  What, the media is hazing the American people by seeing how much we can take?

O'REILLY:  Some of the right wing commentators say it's just hazing, what's the big deal?  Are you buying into that?

COULTER:  No, I don't think anyone is. 

O'REILLY:  No, they are.   You know that.  I'm not going to embarrass people but on the radio, talk radio you have right wing commentators say it's just hazing, what's the big deal?

COULTER:  If I know what you're referring to, there were two hours and 59 minutes not saying that and at one point making fun of liberals for making fun of -- if you're talking about Rush, but Rush went on...

O'REILLY: ...program and he said it's not a big deal, it's just hazing. 

COULTER:  If you're talking about Rush, he definitely didn't say that.  What other talk radio hosts say...

O'REILLY:  I compete against him every day on the radio and I know what he says.  He said many, many times and not only him that it wasn't a big deal. 

COULTER:  No, he didn't say that, but whatever -- no. 

O'REILLY:  What's your point of view on it?

COULTER:  I think that -- it was a bad thing, it's six malefactors in an army that is 1.4 million strong and if I hear about it again I'm going to leap out of my skin.  This is the media trying to demoralize America.  This is the new Tet Offensive. 

O'REILLY:  I agree with you.   I think it's been overreported.   But you aren't diminishing the horror of the situation?

COULTER:  Of course not.  But no one is, so what are they debating about?  Why am I not hearing four weeks about Pat Tillman (search)?  How come every night going through Pat Tillman's life rather than hearing about these six or seven...

O'REILLY:  Well, Berg, Berg didn't get the media exposure he should have gotten.

COULTER:  It's outrageous that the media will not shut up about this.

O'REILLY:  Kill the music.  I got one more for Ann, here.  You realize that some people don't listen to you because they think you're an extremist.  You realize that?

COULTER:  Not according to my book sales but go ahead. 

O'REILLY:  You sell to a niche.  You do.

COULTER:  A pretty big niche.

O'REILLY:  Well answer my question.  Here's my question.  Wouldn't it behoove you -- to be heard by more people if you weren't as strident?

COULTER:  I don't think I am strident.  I think I speak the truth and people are attracted to that, and judging by my book sales versus those who are less strident, I think I'm doing pretty well. 

O'REILLY:  All right, Ann Coulter, everybody.  OK.  We always appreciate it.  Thanks. 

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