'Factor' Debut: Sarah Palin Sits Down With Bill O'Reilly for First Time

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 19, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Let's begin this interview with a phone call you actually made to me to my house in late October 2008. We had been trying to get you on "The Factor" for months. Do you remember that?

Click here to watch part 1 of Bill O'Reilly's interview with Sarah Palin!

SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: I do. Shhh, that was part of that going rogue stuff nobody was supposed to know about in the campaign.

O'REILLY: So you were going rogue, calling O'Reilly at home. I don't know how you got my home number. But you basically said to me "I want to do the show," but why didn't you do it?

PALIN: Whatever the logistics were that weren't working out, we ended up not doing the show, unfortunately. But yeah, reaching out to you and to others who I believed would report fairly, objectively on the campaign. I wanted to talk to you guys.

O'REILLY: We couldn't figure it out because obviously "The Factor's" the biggest cable program with the most people watching. We certainly were fair to you. Would you say we were fair to you?

PALIN: Very fair.

O'REILLY: OK. So why couldn't we get you? And we had trouble getting Senator McCain on the program. I didn't get it.

PALIN: The media strategy was a bit perplexing for at least those on the vice presidential side of the ticket, and not really understanding where we were going there with the relationships with the media. It was just an indication of maybe some things in our campaign being out of touch with the normal everyday average American who wanted to truly connect with the candidate. But very glad to get to be here today.

O'REILLY: OK. But you wanted to be on the program. You wanted to be on "The Factor" during the campaign. You told me you did, and I believed you. And why would you bother taking time out of your busy schedule to call me if that weren't the case?

PALIN: It would be fair to the electorate had we reached out and had more of a connection via different media personalities.

O'REILLY: It's fair to say that you were over-controlled by the McCain people?

PALIN: They were the experts. They had run national campaigns before, and, of course, I had never been a participant in anything larger than a state campaign. So obviously, having to put a lot of faith in their strategy and not having a whole lot of say in things like the media rollout.

O'REILLY: Should you have said, "Look, I'm doing O'Reilly. I don't care what you say"?

PALIN: Oh, as you can tell in the book though, those times that I was more assertive were the times that, you know, we were called "going rogue" and then that being leaked to the press, which was unfortunate. But at this point, of course, it's water under the bridge though. It is — there were mistakes being made in the campaign. I made mistakes in the campaign.

O'REILLY: Everybody does.

PALIN: I acknowledge that, and I think more of a concern has been not within the campaign the mistakes that were made, not being able to react to the circumstances that those mistakes created in a real positive and professional and helpful way for John McCain.

O'REILLY: All right. Let's talk about the senator. Was he accessible to you? Could you pick up the phone and get him on the phone?

PALIN: Absolutely. He still is, and I have great respect for him.

O'REILLY: Did you tell him, "Hey, I'm having trouble with some of your people"? Did you tell him that?

PALIN: I never bad-mouthed any of the operatives.

O'REILLY: Why not?

PALIN: I had faith that Senator McCain was working with those operatives regarding…

O'REILLY: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait, wait, wait. You're frustrated and you're not seeing their vision?

PALIN: Yeah, yeah.

O'REILLY: Don't you think you should have gone to the presidential candidate and said, "Hey, they're mismanaging me. You got to let me loose"?

PALIN: Not necessarily.


PALIN: Not burdening the candidate who was out there every day putting it on the line for voters to understand what it was that our ticket had to offer. Not wanting to burden him with the internal operatives.

O'REILLY: So you didn't want to put more pressure on him?

PALIN: Absolutely not.

O'REILLY: See, I would have done that.

PALIN: Well, again, hindsight. But no, I think it was obvious to everyone within the campaign that things weren't quite going well.

O'REILLY: You guys could have won the election, I think.

PALIN: Well…

O'REILLY: Looking from a — look, the press was against you. We all know that. Bush had a lot of trouble, and that hurt the Republican ticket. We all know that. But it was close. John McCain — did he ever scold you, by the way…


O'REILLY: ...after the Couric interview and the Gibson interview? Did he call you and say, "Hey, Sarah, you got to elevate your game"?

PALIN: John McCain was nothing but positive, encouraging and supportive.

O'REILLY: So he never had any contention between you?

PALIN: Not an ounce of contention. No.

O'REILLY: All right. The two signature moments that got you in trouble, with all due respect, governor, were the Gibson interview when he looked down at you with his nose — on the glasses on the nose and said:


CHARLES GIBSON, ABC NEWS: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?


O'REILLY: When I heard that I went, "What Bush doctrine?"

PALIN: Everybody said that. So did I.


PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?

GIBSON: Well, what do you interpret it to be?

PALIN: His world view?

GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine enunciated in September of 2002 before the Iraq war.


O'REILLY: Do you think that Gibson did that to demean you, to make you look stupid?

PALIN: Those are the gotcha techniques that some in — what some people call mainstream, others call now the "lamestream" media, who want to participate in a tactic like that.

O'REILLY: But he's not like that. Gibson's not like that.

PALIN: Had he explained a little bit more the context of the questions he was asking, probably could have answered it.

O'REILLY: Now that was a signature moment there, and it hurt Gibson because a lot of women said that's not fair. Katie Couric's a different story. Now, Katie Couric asked you an easy question and you booted it, governor.

PALIN: I sure did.


KATIE COURIC, CBS NEWS: What newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?

PALIN: I've read most of them. Again, with a great appreciates for the press, for the media.

COURIC: Like what ones specifically? I'm curious.

PALIN: All of them.


O'REILLY: Why did you boot it? I mean, if somebody asks what do you read? I say I read the, you know, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post. I can reel them off in my sleep. You couldn't do it?

PALIN: Well, of course I could. Of course, I could.

O'REILLY: Why didn't you?

PALIN: It's ridiculous to suggest that or to say that I couldn't tell people what I read, because by that point already it was relatively early in that multi-segmented interview with Katie Couric, it was quite obvious that it was going to be a bit of an annoying interview with the badgering of the questions. It seemed to me that she didn't know anything about Alaska, about my job as governor, about my accomplishments as a mayor or a governor, my record. And a question like that though, yeah, I booted it. I screwed up. I should have been more patient and more gracious in my answer. It seemed to me that the question was more along the lines of do you read? How do you stay in touch with the real world?

O'REILLY: So you thought it was condescending. So that was your inexperience that led to that exchange with Couric. You were frustrated.

PALIN: It was my inexperience in having to deal with a badgering, condescending line of questioning.

O'REILLY: Right.

PALIN: It had no reflection at all on my inexperience in terms of administrative record or accomplishment…

O'REILLY: No, it's just handling the media.

PALIN: …or vision for America. Yeah, and, you know what? So what? So I wasn't…

O'REILLY: It hurt you though.

PALIN: …so I wasn't doing the right thing to ingratiate myself with liberal media personalities to make them like me. So what? I think if most normal Americans were put in the same position that I was there, they'd probably look at her and have that proverbial eye roll and say, "Are you kidding me?"

O'REILLY: If they knew…

PALIN: "Are you suggesting that I don't read?"

O'REILLY: If they had known, that led, in my opinion, to the McCain people, Steve Schmidt and the other guys saying, you know, we can't trust her out there because she booted that, and that's where you lost credibility among them. I understand what you're saying. Although Katie Couric, and I spoke to her a couple days ago, says she wasn't out to get you, clearly in your book, you feel that Katie Couric was out to get you.

PALIN: I let the transcript speak for itself, and readers will decide for themselves if she had any kind of bias or nonobjective mission there.

O'REILLY: Yeah, but you think she was out to get you. It's different than Gibson.

PALIN: I think that she was out to get, if you will, anyone who didn't believe in her perspective. It's not like she was going to get in there and be, I think, unbiased, objective and fair.

O'REILLY: Interesting.

PALIN: But it is my bad. It is my mistake, and it was my inexperience in dealing with the media elite in my response, a very annoyed response to a very annoying question.

O'REILLY: Your bad.

PALIN: Bad, that's my bad. My mistake.



O'REILLY: I love those slang expressions. Now up next, was the governor surprised by the media attacks after her speech at the Republican Convention? Right back with the second part of the Sarah Palin interview.


O'REILLY: Continuing now with our lead story, a conversation with Sarah Palin. Her new book "Going Rogue" will debut at No. 1, and it'll be a huge best-seller for Harper Collins. That's because Governor Palin has millions of admirers, despite the unprecedented media assault.


O'REILLY: I was in Minneapolis, as you probably know, watching your speech when you were nominated. And it was, you know, obviously lights out speech.


PALIN: You know they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.


O'REILLY: Did you know after you gave that speech that the media was going to hammer you? Did you have any idea that they were going to come after you the way they have?

Click here to watch part 2 of Bill O'Reilly's interview with Sarah Palin!

PALIN: You know what I thought they were going to come after me for? Getting a "D" in a college course 22 years ago. That was the big controversy in my little world. That was the skeleton in my closet. Crap. Once the media finds that out…

O'REILLY: You didn't know…

PALIN: ...then it's going to be a…

O'REILLY: Right. So you didn't know they were going to come after you?

PALIN: No, and neither did the campaign. Had the campaign known, then they would have had, practically speaking, things like a binder full of information about me.

O'REILLY: Can I say something bold and fresh?

PALIN: Please.

O'REILLY: You should have known. You are a pro-life woman, a pro-gun woman. You didn't think the elite media in New York and D.C. was going to put a target on your forehead?

PALIN: Not to the extent that they did. No, I didn't anticipate that, and evidently those running the campaign didn't anticipate it either. But you know, they did what they did. But I'm here where I am today, meaning we plowed through a lot of that stuff that they threw our way, a lot of the darts and the arrows thrown our way. I'm still standing and I'm here with Bill O'Reilly. I think that's a bit of a victory.

O'REILLY: Well, I don't know about that. OK. So you and the campaign were unprepared for the vitriol. See, I knew, when I watched you on that stage, I said here's a regular person, which I think you are. I don't know you that well, but I think you're a regular person. Here's a regular person now could be vice president of the United States. Those pinheads back in New York and D.C., they're not going to go for you primarily because of the pro-life stuff.

PALIN: How would we have known though, that the — to the extent that it would have been made manifest their disdain for the normal American? And I am a normal American. And when it comes to my pro-life views, there are more Americans today saying that they understand the sanctity of life and that they are pro-life than they are pro-abortion for the first time in decades, I believe it is.

O'REILLY: OK. The latest poll has you with a 23 percent favorable, 37 percent don't know. You do the math, OK, and you're up at 60 percent of people who could like you. You are the biggest threat because you are a star, media star, whereas you're the only Republican. There aren't any other Republicans who are media stars but you. Now, that's why they're attacking you so vehemently. Do you know that?

PALIN: I don't know why they're attacking me.

O'REILLY: That's the reason. You're a threat.

PALIN: Well, OK, whatever. I do know though that you are spot on when you say perhaps they fear what you're suggesting is a voice being heard that's coming from the heartland of America. And I say that figuratively and literally.

O'REILLY: You're a populist.

PALIN: A populist, yes.

O'REILLY: Do you know what they're calling you now?


O'REILLY: Evita.

PALIN: Well.

O'REILLY: Eva Peron.

PALIN: Uh-huh.

O'REILLY: That's who they're calling you now.

PALIN: Well, I don't know, but the liberal media's going to do what they do. And more Americans though are getting disgusted with what they are doing.

O'REILLY: I agree.

PALIN: And not just because of any kind of personal or political attack on me. They're just saying you know what? Enough is enough. There is no longer — there is no longer a mainstream media that can be trusted to be objective and fair and balanced.

O'REILLY: I agree.

PALIN: People are getting their information…

O'REILLY: That's why Fox does so well.

PALIN: Exactly.

O'REILLY: What was the worst personal attack on you?

PALIN: I think the attacks that had to do with suggestions that Trig should never have been allowed to be born, of course…

O'REILLY: That a Down syndrome baby should have been aborted.

PALIN: Yes, that was pretty hurtful, pretty harmful. But the personal attacks there, too. You know, that's something that we've dealt with, and we plowed through it and we moved on.

O'REILLY: Yes, it's hurtful.

PALIN: There were some practical things, though, that took place within the campaign that I wrote about in the book, that were extremely disconcerting and disruptive in the campaign, like my personal e-mails being hacked into and then being broadcast via media outlets that…

O'REILLY: Lucky you didn't say anything scandalous.

PALIN: Well, I know. They were looking for it though.

O'REILLY: Yeah, they were pretty mundane.

PALIN: I mean, it was like a modern time break-in of a campaign headquarters because electronically, that is my campaign headquarter.

O'REILLY: That's right. That's Watergate light.

PALIN: Yeah.

O'REILLY: David Letterman, were you really mad that he made those jokes?

PALIN: I reacted — again, my reaction to a reporter who asked me about the joke that he made about…

O'REILLY: But in hindsight?

PALIN: ...about my 14-year-old daughter being impregnated by a baseball player. And my reaction was, oh, I thought it was atrocious. It wasn't funny. And then from there, I think the spin kind of was that I was absolutely outraged. It gave me an opportunity to say that that kind of humor is pretty outrageous.


PALIN: It was a degrading comment about a young woman, and I would hope that people really start really rising up and deciding it's not acceptable.


O'REILLY: If Letterman invited you on to plug the book, would you go?



PALIN: I don't think I would want to boost his ratings and participate in that, no.

O'REILLY: OK. Interesting. Oprah asked you about Levi Johnston.


OPRAH WINFREY: Will he be invited to Thanksgiving dinner?


O'REILLY: Why do you — I wouldn't answer questions about him if I were you.

PALIN: Because you guys ask. And I don't know, give me advice. How do you pivot away from questions about a character who is saying things that aren't necessarily true…

O'REILLY: Right.

PALIN: …and certainly aren't very nice about, again, one of my children and my family?

O'REILLY: I would just say he is the father of my grandchild, and I want a very loving relationship in our family, but I'm not going to say anything more.

PALIN: I will say that, but at the same time, after a year of getting clobbered by the media, capitalizing on people who will make things up, there does come a time in any mama's heart and gut where they're going to say no, no, no. You're picking on my kids. You're picking on my family. I'm going to set the record straight. My guttural instinct is kind of like a mama grizzly bear. You're touching my cubs, you're touching my kids. I'm going to respond and I'm going to set the record straight.


O'REILLY: Now tomorrow, the governor sets the record straight on policy, Iran, Afghanistan, health care. A challenging interview, Friday night.

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