'Oprah' Author Kitty Kelley Talks About Controversial New Book

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 14, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: a new book on Oprah Winfrey causes some controversy. It chronicles her life, gets into some personal stuff, and so it's destined to be a best-seller. The author, Kitty Kelley, says many media people will not interview her for fear of angering Oprah. I talked to Ms. Kelley yesterday.


O'REILLY: Salacious stuff aside, what do you think the most important part of your book is about Oprah Winfrey?

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KITTY KELLEY, AUTHOR, "OPRAH: A BIOGRAPHY": I think it's just the overall story of an absolutely inspirational life. It's a book that hasn't been written up to this point.

O'REILLY: Well, it's hard. I mean, she makes people sign confidentiality agreements, and she protects her image, as she should. But I'm wondering why, you know, when you have this salacious stuff in there, it makes the front pages of the newspapers, it sells you books and this, that, and the other thing, but doesn't it diminish Oprah Winfrey to put her up as an object? Everybody makes mistakes. What good does that do?

KELLEY: It's part of her life story. It's absolutely part of her life story. If you're referring to the affair with John Tesh, that was a very big thing back in the '70s. It was — there was a lot of racial tension at the time.

O'REILLY: I just think it overwhelms the other part of the book. I admire Oprah Winfrey, because I think she's the most powerful woman in the world. And she comes from poverty. She doesn't come from any advantage at all. It's almost like Barack Obama. You come from nothing in the sense that you have no advantages, and you rise up. You've got to respect that. And I think it diminishes Oprah Winfrey or even President Obama to get into these little things that make them look bad.

KELLEY: No, I don't. I disagree with you, Bill. I don't think there is anything in the world that could diminish Oprah Winfrey, and that's why, at the end of this book, it's still an inspirational story.

O'REILLY: All right. You have a part about me in the book where I called Oprah Winfrey and complained that she was being too left wing in her presentations because she wasn't using me and my book, "Culture Warrior." I never made that call. We never talked. Does that surprise you?

KELLEY: Yes, and I might debate it.

O'REILLY: Ms. Kelley, you don't know me, but I never made the call. So that's a mistake in the book. Does that bother you?

KELLEY: It doesn't bother me.

O'REILLY: It doesn't? Does not?



KELLEY: Because I think there was pressure put on Oprah Winfrey to have you on the show.

O'REILLY: I would not deny that.

KELLEY: All right.

O'REILLY: I put pressure on her, on my show.


O'REILLY: An analysis of the program shows that the liberal guests far outnumber conservatives and traditionalists in the arena. We could only find four traditional guests in the past few years.


O'REILLY: I thought Oprah Winfrey at one point was leaning way too far left in her presentation.

KELLEY: And she...

O'REILLY: She was fair to me once I got her attention.

KELLEY: She was fabulous to you.


O'REILLY: You're going to be on Oprah?


KELLEY: I got that story from two sources within your publishing house, and I wrote you an e-mail.

O'REILLY: OK. I never got the e-mail. We get thousands of them. I'm not doubting that somebody told you that. I'm not doubting that. I'm sure somebody told you that. But what I'm trying to tell you is when you report on a famous person, whether it's Oprah, whether it's me, people are going to say a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff.

KELLEY: Which is why you try and confirm absolutely everything.

O'REILLY: Oprah Winfrey is the most powerful woman in the country. She influences the presidential race.




O'REILLY: All right. So I'm going to watch Oprah Winfrey. The reason I'm talking to you today is because Oprah Winfrey is the most powerful person in the country.

KELLEY: Exactly.

O'REILLY: But I happen to like Oprah Winfrey.

KELLEY: I do, too.

O'REILLY: I don't even know her. But I see what she does with her money and with her power, and I think the woman tries to help people. She certainly tries to help abused children. The second time I was on the program was about that.

KELLEY: I agree with you. That is, I think, her very best legacy.

O'REILLY: But I feel queasy when I see betrayal in any way, shape or form. When I see people talking about Oprah Winfrey, blind people, no names attached.

KELLEY: Wait a minute. What about her father? Her father gave me a lot of time. Her Aunt Catherine gave me a lot of time.

O'REILLY: As long as they're named, I have no beef.

KELLEY: There are interviews from Senator Dole in the book, from Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

O'REILLY: But there's a lot of this. There's a lot of this...

KELLEY: Most of the — no, I will not own that at all. Most of the people are on the record, with the sole exception of former and present employees and publishers.

O'REILLY: All right, OK. But you get my point.

KELLEY: I gave you a point. But I don't...

O'REILLY: I — you can diminish anyone, anyone in the world.

KELLEY: I didn't want to diminish her.

O'REILLY: I'm not saying you did.

KELLEY: I don't want to diminish her.

O'REILLY: But you see the papers and you see what they're concentrating on, and...

KELLEY: Well, that's the papers. That's not the book I wrote.

O'REILLY: But this is America and that's what happens. Now, final question for you.


O'REILLY: Why do you think Oprah Winfrey doesn't like the project, has put pressure on other journalists not to have you on the program? I believe that.

KELLEY: I don't. I don't feel — I don't think she picked up the telephone and called…

O'REILLY: No, but they're afraid.

KELLEY: …called Larry King and said, "Don't have her on." I don't think she called Barbara Walters. But I — they are afraid. You are right.

O'REILLY: Why? What are they afraid of?

KELLEY: They don't want to offend her. They don't want to lose their place in Oprah's sun.

O'REILLY: Is that a noble thing that they don't want to offend her?

KELLEY: No. No. It's not noble. But it is what it is.

O'REILLY: OK. But, on — on balance, you believe that this book is an homage to Oprah Winfrey, that this is a complimentary book to her?

KELLEY: By the end of the book.

O'REILLY: By the end of the book?

KELLEY: Yes. Yes.

O'REILLY: All right, Ms. Kelley. We appreciate you coming and taking the fire.

KELLEY: Thank you. You're very brave.


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