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Inside the Caroline Kennedy Mystery

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 22, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Our lead story tonight is the mystery surrounding Caroline Kennedy dropping out of Senate contention.

"The Factor" has learned that New York Governor David Patterson was told by unidentified sources that Caroline Kennedy was having an affair with New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger. Upon hearing that information, Governor Patterson got a bit nervous, as you would imagine, because both Mrs. Kennedy and Mr. Sulzberger are married, although Sulzberger is apparently separated from his wife. And around midnight last night, Caroline Kennedy pulled out of the race for "personal reasons."

Now, a spokesperson for The New York Times says Sulzberger does not, I repeat, does not have a relationship with Mrs. Kennedy. But this is one huge mess.

Joining us now from Albany, New York, is New York Post reporter Fred Dicker, who has been way out ahead on this story.

I'm going to be real careful here, Mr. Dicker. Unlike The New York Times, which at times prints gossip, innuendo, and you know, terrible stuff to hurt people with whom they disagree — they did it to me on a number of occasions — I don't want to do that. But we do have it on very reliable information that this is why Caroline Kennedy pulled out. What do you have?

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FRED DICKER, NEW YORK POST STATE EDITOR: Well, I tell you, just backing up, what you're talking about was a remarkable statement that I and other members of the press were given today by a source very close to the governor, who claimed that questions about Caroline Kennedy's marital status were among the reasons that she did get out, the personal reasons that she cited. Also mentioned were supposed tax problems and a nanny problem. We don't know if it's true, but it was interesting that someone close to the governor, who was considered authoritative, would bring it up.

O'REILLY: There's no doubt in my mind, because we did also report the story, I can't verify any relationship Ms. Kennedy has had. I cannot verify. I want the audience to be very crystal clear on that. I can't verify anything along those lines.

What we can say with certainty is that Governor Patterson received a boatload of information from a political source, a source very high that the governor takes seriously, that Mrs. Kennedy had a number of personal problems, not just one. So you seem to be confirming that, Fred?

DICKER: Well, I'm confirming that someone close to the governor makes that claim. We haven't seen any evidence of that. We certainly reported that this source close to the governor said it, and we noted, that there's a Web site that talked about Caroline Kennedy having a special friend in Ken Sulzberger, the publisher of The Times.

O'REILLY: Yeah, Web sites aren't enough, you know.

DICKER: But…

O'REILLY: You know what the Web site game is.

DICKER: No, I agree.

O'REILLY: They're smear factories. They throw stuff out there. They don't verify. They don't care.

All right. Now…

DICKER: So I just want to mention that only in the context of the fact that there's been an undercurrent of rumors about this for several weeks.

O'REILLY: All right. But we don't report rumor. You know, we just simply don't do that. But here's my question to you.

DICKER: Fine.

O'REILLY: She's out, all right? She's out of the race. She pulls out at midnight, at midnight. She doesn't explain it, but she herself says it's for personal reasons, unexplained. I think that was an incredibly foolish thing for Mrs. Kennedy to do because she should have explained exactly why she pulled out and then not let the Web sites and everybody else speculate and then drag her by the speculation through the mud. Am I wrong?

DICKER: Well, I don't agree with you. I think you may be — I mean, she's a private citizen. She's not holding public office. She made a decision for whatever reason to withdraw from consideration. Why should she have to spill what's in her private life if she chooses not to run for office?

O'REILLY: So you would…

DICKER: …which is what she's doing now.

O'REILLY: If I were advising her, I would have said, look, it's not a perfect world. You're Caroline Kennedy. You made a big run at this. You're pulling out at midnight for undisclosed personal reasons and you don't think people are going to go nuts? I would have said, listen, Mrs. Kennedy, you've got to get up there and say something, define it some way, unless, unless there's some bad stuff. And if there is, Fred, it's coming out. You know what I mean? It's coming out.

DICKER: Well yeah, I do. I do. But the people here are wondering what is it? What is someone close to the governor of the state of New York releasing this information on Caroline Kennedy for? She's no longer a candidate. She's an iconic figure.

O'REILLY: To cover Patterson's butt. To cover Patterson's butt. Patterson doesn't want to be the fall guy here.

DICKER: But what did he do wrong? She pulled out.

O'REILLY: Yeah, but he was put in a position where he had to consider her in a very high profile way. And he did. Was respectful. Met with her.

DICKER: He could have said thank you for being considered.

O'REILLY: Oh, it's not enough.

DICKER: He could have said thank you very much. You're no longer on the list.

O'REILLY: Fred…

DICKER: He could have done this weeks ago.

O'REILLY: He met with her yesterday, yesterday.

DICKER: Yeah, but he met with her weeks ago, too.

O'REILLY: But that's — he's the governor of the state.

DICKER: I don't think they met yesterday. I think they talked.

O'REILLY: All right. Whether they talked or they met, what I'm trying to tell you is that it reached a level…

DICKER: Yeah.

O'REILLY: ...it's reached a level of critical mass. When you engage the nation, and you're Caroline Kennedy…

DICKER: Sure.

O'REILLY: .John Kennedy's daughter, and you want a Senate seat, and the governor is considering it, and then at midnight you say I changed my mind, come on, Fred.

DICKER: Let me tell you how the Democrats here are viewing it. It's not necessarily my view. They're saying the governor got this woman, Caroline Kennedy, a shy person, drew her out, kept her out there for two months, made her go around the state, exposed herself. She wasn't that comfortable, but she said she was going for it. And then finally in the end, she pulls out. And then he throws her overboard to look like…

O'REILLY: So they're blaming the governor.

DICKER: …the tough guy taking on the candidates. Someone close to him is leaking this.

O'REILLY: Yeah, all right, OK. I mean, I think the governor's trying to cover his butt. I agree. But I don't think this…

DICKER: So should he do that…

O'REILLY: ...is Patterson's fault.

DICKER: ...at her expense?

O'REILLY: All right. It's a mess.

DICKER: Well, he's the governor. And should he do it at her expense?

O'REILLY: All right. It's a mess though. You would agree with me on that? It's a mess?

DICKER: It is, unbelievable mess.

O'REILLY: And it's going to get bigger, you wait and see. Fred, always a pleasure. Thanks very much. Good work on the story.

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