This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 14, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "impact" segment tonight: Our pal Tony Snow showed up on Bill Maher's HBO program over the weekend. Why Snow did that is a mystery, since he was up against far-left loons on the panel and in the audience. Here's a sample of what went on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to remember that the same people who are telling us that the surge is working are the same people who got everything wrong and lied to us every step of the way. I mean, I wouldn't trust them to tell us (EXPLETIVE).
TONY SNOW: Look, what the hell does that mean? It's perfect cynicism, and it's cute; it's funny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's cute. Not cute for the people over there who...
SNOW: It's also not cute for the people who are dying right now, who come back and say that they feel proud because they have been part of something special.
BILL MAHER: They don't want to run against Obama. Your party does not want to run against him. They want to run against Hillary Clinton. And now they have a race that they're in it.
SNOW: So Republicans are throwing the election to Hillary Clinton?
MAHER: Well, they've done that before.
SNOW: Your hair's on fire. This is totally whacko.
MAHER: I'm not saying it's true.
SNOW: This is completely whacked. Are you kidding me? We...
MAHER: They did it to Ed Muskie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: Ed Muskie. Now earlier today, Tony talked about his ordeal on "The Radio Factor."
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SNOW: It's probably important to learn, A, what it's like to be in the ambush, to anticipate even better what the other side's saying. And what was interesting to me and a little bit surprising was how everybody defaulted to three-year-old arguments rather than trying to deal with what was going on.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O'REILLY: Now I've seen people outnumbered, but nothing like Tony Snow was on that program.
By the way, I will do the Bill Maher program, but only one on one with Maher, not sitting there with Mark Cuban and Catherine Crier and the other nut. Not going to happen.
Now this incident just reinforces the bitterness and attack strategy of the far left. With us now to analyze is Mark Smith, author of the book "The Official Handbook of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy."
You know, we've been reporting on this, you know, and we're ramping up the reporting because it does have an impact on the presidential election. And Tony Snow, you know, he's a feisty guy. And he's not afraid of any debate. But to put yourself in that position where the audience doesn't like you, and then it's three against one on the panel — actually four against one, counting Maher — you know, to me, is almost self-defeating.
MARK SMITH, AUTHOR & ATTORNEY: You know, I got to give, you've got to give Tony Snow so much credit, because the one thing about Tony — as you know him personally from here at FOX in the states — you know, he's a guy who's willing to stand up for what he believes, and he's willing to debate it and explain it. And I think if you compare Tony Snow's approach on the Bill Maher show, where he's trying to actually have a serious engaging debate on the issues of the day, while you have the liberals on the panel just attacking him with vitriol and ad hominem attacks and the like, and I think you can compare and contrast the sort of modern debate styles that we see today on the left and the right.
O'REILLY: But here's the key question. And Snow said, look, I went on the program because I wanted to bring the message to an audience that obviously is not receptive and maybe I'll win a few hearts and minds.
I told him, as I told the audience, that I'll go with Maher one on one, but I'm not going to do a dog and pony show with three people who don't know anything: Cuban, the guy from Rolling Stone, and Crier. I mean, why bother? And an audience who's just in there to hoot at anything Bill Maher says.
So I don't know if Snow made a mistake, because he obviously held his own and did well. But I don't know if you accomplish anything by putting yourself in that position.
SMITH: Well certainly I think Tony knew that he was not going to persuade anybody on that panel...
SMITH: ...Bill Maher or Mark Cuban that Tony was right. But I think what Tony was shooting for was the sort of the people watching in the audience and home, hoping to hear something interesting out of Tony's mouth that would cause him to pause and reflect.
And I think, by the way, that the reason why the Mark Cubans of the world and the Bill Mahers of the world under no circumstances will change their mind is they can't afford to. I think the Democrats in America have no choice but to, frankly, in many ways cheer against America.
O'REILLY: Well, we've been saying that — I don't know if it's against America. It's certainly against the war.
SMITH: But you need to have crisis and failure in America and overseas to justify more government, higher taxes, and the like. And I think that that's why they're so worried that George Bush will succeed in Iraq because if Bush succeeds in Iraq, then...
O'REILLY: All right, but the issue...
SMITH: ...all the arguments that they've been raising will frankly fall by the wayside.
O'REILLY: The issue is off the table now because the elite media won't cover it anymore because things are going better. So now it's the economy. We see The New York Times everyday front page: recession, recession, recession has replaced bombing, bombing, bombing.
Now as we just saw with Kirsten and Margaret, the left now is fighting each other. They're tearing each other apart. Do you think that's getting through to Americans because you are seeing lively debate on the Republican side, but nothing like the vitriol on the Democratic side?
SMITH: Yes, and I think it's quite interesting, Bill, and I think if you want to actually go back to the start of this, I think the fact that the left in America had decades and decades of a media monopoly — and I think only now is the left trying to figure out how do they successfully compete in a marketplace of ideas where they no longer have the only voice, where now they have to explain what they think and why they think it on FOX News, on the Internet, on talk radio, and the like. And I think they're adjusting and adapting to that. And I think they're going through, frankly, some growing pains, which is why we see the vitriolism that's being sort of targeted to one another in a way that we'd never seen in the past.
O'REILLY: That's an interesting analysis. But FOX News has been around now for 12 years, OK? And talk radio for 25. And the malice, the level of malice on the far left is now rising. I mean, Air America was bad. They went bankrupt. But they took that mantel of malice. And now they're just riding it to the mainstream media. And I'm saying to myself, Americans don't like that. Do you think they do?
SMITH: No, I don't think Americans — I think Americans are generally optimistic people.
SMITH: I don't think they like to get down in the gutter like those sorts of things. And I wonder now, in fact, I've been saying I think in some ways maybe the best argument to vote for Republican, although I'm a conservative, the best argument to vote for Republican may very well be that we're not Democrats. And the way Hillary and Obama have been fighting, they may wind up being part of the case.
O'REILLY: I don't know if it's Democrats as much as ideologues.
SMITH: That's right.
O'REILLY: I think most Democrats don't like it either.
O'REILLY: Mr. Smith, thanks very much. We appreciate it.
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