Interviews

Did Gen. McChrystal's Liberalism Lead to His Downfall?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 28, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Weekdays With Bernie" segment tonight: As you may know, Gen. Stanley McChrystal's career was derailed by an article in Rolling Stone magazine that quoted him and his aides as mocking members of the Obama administration. But according to The Atlantic magazine, it was not unusual for Gen. McChrystal to hang around with liberals because he himself is a liberal thinker. Some reports even say he banned Fox News from his office TV set. We have not been able to confirm that. But we can confirm that the general felt comfortable in liberal precincts and allowed far-left bomb-thrower Michael Hastings to follow him around.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL HASTINGS, REPORTER, ROLLING STONE: If Bill O'Reilly is calling you a far-left critic, in my book, no matter -- no matter what your political persuasion is, that's probably -- that probably means you're doing a good job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: And Hastings does think he did a good job ruining Gen. McChrystal. Hastings is quite a guy.

Joining us now from North Carolina, Fox News analyst Bernie Goldberg. All right, Bernie, now, you and I both said last week that Hastings, as despicable as I believe he is, did not violate journalistic procedure, at least as far as we know. But I want to react to what CBS correspondent Lara Logan said. Roll the tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARA LOGAN, CBS CORRESPONDENT: Michael Hastings, if you believe him, says that there were no ground rules laid out. And I mean, that just doesn't really make a lot of sense to me, because if you look at the people around Gen. McChrystal, if you look at his history, he has a history of not interacting with the media at all. I know these people. They never let their guard down like that. To me, something doesn't add up here. I just -- I don't believe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: Well, Ms. Logan spent a lot of time in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. So what say you, Bernie?

BERNIE GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, a couple of points. First, Lara Logan knows what she's doing, and she sounds like she knows what she's talking about. I just don't know if, in this case, the conversation with McChrystal and his aides was on or off the record. If it was off the record, then Rolling Stone sandbagged the general. It's that simple. If it was on the record, then these guys, McChrystal and his guys were just a bunch of cowboys who thought they could say anything they wanted. And if that's the case, if it was on the record, then I say what I said last week: It isn't a reporter's job to do PR for the military. So, in that case, it wouldn't be Rolling Stone's problem. I just don't know which it is.

O'REILLY: OK. So, but here's a -- no, we don't know for sure, and McChrystal hasn't said anything about it. We're trying to find out. But here is what -- I'm coming from this point of view, as well. I think Lara Logan is discounting the ideology of Gen. McChrystal because that's the only explanation. I don't know anything about McChrystal. I've never met him. I've met the other generals, Odierno, Casey, all of those guys when I was in Afghanistan. McChrystal obviously wasn't there. I don't know his ideology.

But when I heard that he was an avowed liberal, who turned off Fox News in his office, which as you know, is the most widely watched network on all Army and Marine and naval bases all over the world by far. It's Fox News, Fox News, Fox News. When he did that and I heard that, I went, "OK, maybe his own ideology brought him down." I wonder if General McChrystal is as liberal now today as he was before the Rolling Stone article. So I think, you live by the liberal sword, you die by the liberal sword.

GOLDBERG: Exactly. Exactly. This is why God created irony. I mean, if you're a liberal military man and you take a liberal journalist, you know, into your confidence, and then he turns around and screws you, I mean, that's what we call ironic. But there may be a clue here as to what happened, just a clue. And that is that the writer, Michael Hastings, did a piece in GQ magazine once, and he explained how he operates. He explained right out there in the open how he operates. He said first of all you pretend to be friendly with people you need to get close to. That's his word, "pretend."

O'REILLY: Right, right.

GOLDBERG: And then you gain their confidence. And then -- ready for this -- and then if you -- if you get a call from your editor, and he tells to you screw these people, then you screw them. And he didn't use the word "screw" either.

O'REILLY: He used the f-word.

GOLDBERG: So here's my question, Bill. Here's my question. I want to know is that what happened here? Did you go into the story, Michael Hastings, pretending to be friendly, winning their confidence -- that part I don't have a problem with, really, to be honest with you, a little problem but not a big problem. But did you know going in that there was going to come a time when you were going to screw these people? Because if you did, then that's the definition of dishonesty in journalism.

O'REILLY: Well, I have a problem with any reporter going in and trying to be friends with somebody and hosing them in the end. I have never done that in 35 years. I have never done that.

GOLDBERG: Right. Let me defend -- let me defend myself. I mean, just -- let me just defend myself. Here is what I mean by that. If I'm going to do a story on the Ku Klux Klan, no, I'm not going to go in there and pretend to be friends with them, but neither am I going to go in and say, "You moron."

O'REILLY: You're telling me you're going to get a fair shot. You're going to get a fair shot here. That's what you tell them. You're going to get a fair shot. If I use a negative quote, then I'll run it by you and you can respond. That's easy. That's the way you do it. You don't say, "I sympathize with your point of view." Go ahead.

GOLDBERG: I'll tell you what my rule of thumb is. My rule of thumb is that if I do any piece and I know it's going to be, you know, something that the person I'm interviewing may not like, I still want to be able to watch that piece on television sitting in the same room with that person.

O'REILLY: With the person. Right.

GOLDBERG: They could turn to me and say, "I didn't like the piece but it was fair." So that's my rule of thumb.

O'REILLY: Right. Right. And look, we -- we ambush people sometimes on this program. And you don't really think that's appropriate sometimes. But you know why we do it? Because that's eye to eye. That's face to face, OK? We're going to come, and we're going to ask you right in your face, what you did, why you did it, give you a chance to explain yourself. That's why we're successful here. This Hastings is a weasel, Bernie. He's a weasel. You know he's a weasel. You saw, you know, if you...

GOLDBERG: I suspect...

O'REILLY: If you read his other articles, this is a weasel with a capital "W." Any intelligent military person would say, "Hey, you, out of here." But I think McChrystal is a liberal. I think the guy sold him, Hastings sold him a big bill, and he took it. They had a few pops in the Irish pub in Paris and bang, that's what happened. Give you the last word.

GOLDBERG: Well, the last word is what he said about you. He took a shot at you, Hastings did. Very courageous. He's not the first one to do it, so no big deal there. But here's what's interesting. The follow-up question should have been it doesn't matter if Bill O'Reilly thinks you're a left-wing journalist. The question is, are you? And do your left-wing politics affect your journalism?

O'REILLY: Absolutely.

GOLDBERG: And the answer is, well, they do -- not that he would tell us that. But if they do, then all bets are off.

O'REILLY: Well, that's what the record shows. He doesn't have to tell us. It's what the record shows. Bernie, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

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