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Laura Ingraham Catches Heat for Iraq Analysis

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 6, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen to the "Radio Factor!"

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, one of the most ardent supporters of the Iraq war has been radio talk show host Laura Ingraham. Recently, the president of NBC News criticized her after a CBS News crew was brutalized. And with us now is Laura Ingraham.

You know, I agree with you on a lot of stuff about Iraq. You went over there. You spent some time. I do believe that the reportage about the war is politically driven, that there's not an effort to be fair and balanced about what is going on inside the country.

That being said, I think it's a very troubling situation, particularly with the Shia-Sunni civil war that we really can't control. Have you changed your opinion on Iraq at all?

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think that when we see the national tennis team of Iraq, two players and the coach killed because they were wearing shorts, almost no reporting on that. This happened about a week and a half ago.

O'REILLY: Right.

INGRAHAM: When you see people being pulled off buses, Shia separated from Sunni, Sunnis killing all the Shia. Then the Sunnis can go. That stuff is really troubling, but it also defines what we're up against in Iraq.

When we see what's happening in Toronto now, with that investigation. The Georgia connection. Still, what's happening in Indonesia. What we're seeing in Somalia. I think it clarifies, frankly, that we're up against a global Islamist jihad that is committed and is going to do everything they can, use every means at their disposal to influence America, America's choices before ultimately they come after us again. And I think it clarifies it.

O'REILLY: OK. But there's a couple of problems with waging a War on Terror like this. Sometimes the battlefield isn't the right battlefield. And in Iraq that may turn out to be the case. That no matter how effective we are and how noble we are, because I do think that we are noble there, we might not be able to control this situation.

INGRAHAM: When is the right time?

O'REILLY: Well, it's not a matter of time, it's a matter of place.

INGRAHAM: What's the right place today?

O'REILLY: It depends. It's a place where you can win. War is a performance business. And here's what troubles me, and I'm sure you know this most of the Americans have tuned out the Iraq war.

INGRAHAM: Why do you think they have?

O'REILLY: Too depressing.

INGRAHAM: But why do you think it's always so depressing? Do you think if more of the troops' stories were told...

O'REILLY: I don't think so.

INGRAHAM: ... that more Americans would believe that, actually, what's happening there is good, really is fighting evil? I actually think they would, Bill. And let me get to this NBC thing for the moment, if you don't mind.

O'REILLY: Well, I'll get to that.

INGRAHAM: Fine.

O'REILLY: Because that's important. But let's stick with the folks. I believe the folks think it's a noble cause in Iraq, all right?

INGRAHAM: Right.

O'REILLY: Most Americans, if you said, "Is this noble or is this for oil?" they would say, "It's noble."

INGRAHAM: Yes.

O'REILLY: But I do believe that people will say it's enough. I can't watch it. It's too depressing. There's too many people being blown up.

INGRAHAM: That's the rub.

O'REILLY: That's the rub.

INGRAHAM: This is the anniversary of D-Day, 62 years ago. The D-Day invasion. Ten thousand allied casualties in one day. What would have happened if we had cable television back then? If we had...

O'REILLY: But it's a different enemy, though.

INGRAHAM: Of course, it's a different enemy. But remember, it's brutal. It's horrible. The reality of war is awful.

And I agree, Bill, it is incredibly difficult in Iraq, maybe miscalculations were obviously made about the strength of the insurgency.

O'REILLY: Right.

INGRAHAM: But what I'm telling you is when the troops consistently tell me when I was there with them short period of time, 10 days and now consistently, when they tell me, "Look, we've got to finish this." What's the alternative? Pulling out of Iraq?

O'REILLY: No, you can't pull out. But I don't know if they are capable. They, meaning the U.S. military, capable of controlling a nation of 56 million which is...

INGRAHAM: They have to do it, Bill, you're right.

O'REILLY: I don't know if that's possible. I don't know if it's possible.

INGRAHAM: They have to do it. Iraqis have to do it.

O'REILLY: Right. Right.

INGRAHAM: Obviously, we can't control it.

O'REILLY: Right. The Iraqis and right now...

INGRAHAM: But we can give them the tools at their disposal. They've got to get the defense ministry onboard.

O'REILLY: If you had to go to Vegas and lay some serious money on Iraqis, you'd have to think about it.

INGRAHAM: Well, I always bet on the U.S. military.

O'REILLY: Again, they can't do it by themselves. They can't.

All right. Now, NBC. The guy, Capus, emotional. Obviously Kimberly hurt, two dead at CBS, and he goes after you. Now I was surprised. I didn't think it was necessary to do that. How did you react?

INGRAHAM: Well, you know, I know the NBC folks. I know Capus. I used to work with him at MSNBC. I like him.

And what surprised me is that taking a personal tragedy, of here we have this brave reporter, two camera people killed. She's struggling. And you turn it into a personal attack, I don't get that.

And what Steve knows is that when I was on "The Today Show" I was essentially challenging "The Today Show" to take some of their resources they spent on the Olympics or "Where in the World is Matt Lauer" and take a show to a military base in Iraq.

O'REILLY: Yes. You wanted them to cover the story differently.

INGRAHAM: Go to a military base. And you don't have to put yourself necessarily in danger to just talk to the troops. And so what they said was, look, we have a bureau there. Matt Lauer has been there.

And I said, well, yes, but doing a show from Iraq is more than reporting from a hotel balcony about IEDs. It's talking to the troops. And that's what I think is missing in this war, Bill, is just speaking to the troops. Their gripes, and there are a lot of gripes, their point of view. What they think about the coverage. They're there doing the tough job.

O'REILLY: Absolutely a fair analysis I think. Do you believe NBC News is anti-war, anti-Iraq war?

INGRAHAM: I think there's not really any doubt at this point that the media today has pretty much concluded that this is a loser. The Iraq thing is a loser.

O'REILLY: What do you mean by the media? I mean, FOX News is still there on coverage.

INGRAHAM: The mainstream — yes, the dinosaur media. I call it the dinosaur media. FOX is not part of that. The dinosaurs, the old networks.

O'REILLY: The three networks? CNN?

INGRAHAM: Yes, CNN probably and the mainstream, so-called mainstream newspapers. I think they think Bush has really screwed this whole thing up. The war on terror has become ineffective.

O'REILLY: Do you think they're consciously skewing their reporting to make it look?

INGRAHAM: Well, when our military was cleared over the weekend of wrongdoing in another Iraqi town...

O'REILLY: The BBC report.

INGRAHAM: ... it was in the middle of the A-Section of the Washington Post and the New York Times. In the middle.

O'REILLY: Right. Where is...

INGRAHAM: I was looking through the paper over the weekend. Wait, that's a big story. And then meanwhile, front page, Haditha, Haditha, Haditha and then, you know, some other, you know, allegation of wrong doing.

O'REILLY: Last question: is Haditha going to be the final nail in the Iraq campaign?

INGRAHAM: It's certainly not going to help. And I don't think we need to — we know that the facts look bad so far, what they are. You can't extrapolate from that to say the whole mission is bad.

O'REILLY: No, you can't.

INGRAHAM: Any more so than when a cop beats up someone in New York, you could say, "We're going to pull all the cops off the streets in New York, and we've got to change our whole way of doing things in New York." I don't think that's right.

O'REILLY: But it's just another depressing thing in a long line of depressing things.

INGRAHAM: It is. But it's being treated as the be-all and end-all, again, by an unsympathetic media. And I think that makes it more difficult.

O'REILLY: All right. Laura Ingraham, as always, we appreciate you coming in.

INGRAHAM: Thanks, Bill.

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