Interviews

Bernie Goldberg on Rosie O'Donnell Joining Oprah's New Network

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 9, 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: The New York Times runs a sympathetic story about the soldier accused of leaking top-secret documents to a website, but first, Oprah Winfrey has a new cable channel, and it's on Rosie O'Donnell doing an afternoon talk show. Ro and O. Will the partnership succeed?

Joining us now from North Carolina, Bernie Goldberg, the purveyor of BernardGoldberg.com. All right. It's my theory -- I may write my newspaper column about it this week -- that if you are a far-left person, it's over, that the Obama administration was the last chance you had to succeed in the mass market media. And since the country now is saying it's not working for President Obama, anyone who really holds that torch isn't going to get a mass market. I will point to David Letterman. I will point to Air America. I will point to Joy Behar on cable. Not doing well. And do you agree or no?

BERNARD GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you're betting against a very savvy business woman, Oprah Winfrey. And I don't think you get to be a billionaire by -- by making bad calls like this.

Let me make two points. The first one is I want to make clear that when it comes to politics, Rosie O'Donnell is a fool. She may fancy herself a political sophisticate of sorts. She's not. She thinks 9/11 was an inside job. She has said that radical Christianity, whatever that means, is as threatening as radical Islam. I don't think so. And she has said, and I want to read the exact quote, that we shouldn't fear the terrorists -- ready for this? -- because they're mothers and fathers. Rosie O'Donnell's main contribution to our culture is that she mainstreams both stupidity and hate.

Now, let's get to your point. Having said that, Bill, I think that Oprah Winfrey is well aware of the baggage that Rosie O'Donnell brings to the party. She's well aware that this is a center-right country, but Oprah Winfrey also understands American women, right? She does. Because she's been immensely successful in that area. And she may be making the right decision this time or a wrong decision. But you don't get to be a billionaire by making bad business decisions. So you may be right. But Oprah -- Oprah has got a pretty good track record in this area.

O'REILLY: OK. So you say that because it's an afternoon show targeted at women -- that's Oprah's network, is going to be targeted at women. They're not that political. They don't hold, you know, that much of an ideological pistol at you. And they – if Rosie O'Donnell is entertaining, they'll watch her. But what if she isn't? You know, she's doing an hour every day. That's five hours a week. I can't -- and she's not going to be able to resist getting into the liberal politics. She's not.

GOLDBERG: That's an interesting point. If she's simply entertaining, and it's like the old Rosie from the early days -- I never watched the show. But people tell me she was likeable. And you've got to be likeable if you're going to be successful on television. So that will work. But you may be right that she may not be able to resist. And if she starts in with this nonsense, then I think Oprah is going to, you know, call her in and have a little meeting and say, "Cut it out." Then your theory -- then your theory becomes accurate.

O'REILLY: It's all about the presentation. You've got to figure they had some kind of deal about that. But I've got to quibble with one thing that you said, and this is a major thing. You said in order to succeed on television you have to be likeable. What about me? How can you make that statement when you're talking to me?

GOLDBERG: I'm using you as the prime example of one of the most likeable people.

O'REILLY: I know. Sure you are. I just blew you right out of the water. I hope you know that.

GOLDBERG: Wait a second. Wait a second. Wait a second. Do you think I didn't think of that as I was saying it?

O'REILLY: I don't know what you're thinking. You've got a purple tie on tonight. I don't know what you're thinking.

GOLDBERG: It's a pink tie. I am always thinking, always.

O'REILLY: Let's get to The New York Times. A woman named Ginger Thompson, who I think was married to Elvis Presley.

GOLDBERG: I'm thinking I made a big mistake by being here tonight is what I'm thinking. Go ahead.

O'REILLY: All right. Ginger Thompson, who I think was married to Elvis Presley at one point. A New York Times reporter, and she writes a sympathetic piece about this Private Bradley Manning, who may be charged with treason for leaking classified documents about Afghanistan to WikiLeaks. And, you know, a lot of people going, you know, how -- this is a sympathetic guy. And you say?

GOLDBERG: Yes. I mean, so the audience who didn't -- the people at home who were lucky enough not to have read it, let me just say it is a sympathetic piece. It's a compassionate piece about how kids made fun of him when he was growing up for being a geek, and they made fun of him for being gay. And then when he joined the Army later in life, his friends say he wasted his considerable brain power -- this is what they say -- by fetching coffee for officers. It is a very sympathetic profile of a man who stands accused of leaking 90,000 classified documents.

But Bill, this is how it works at The New York Times. If they like you, if they like what you stand for, you get an easy ride. What he stands for, he's against -- he's an anti-war activist. Well, they like that. Not -- not too many years ago, they ran another kissy-kissy Valentine profile of Bill Ayers, the '60s and '70s radical who wanted to blow up the Pentagon and the Capitol. Unfortunately for The New York Times, the piece came out the morning of September 11, 2001, making The New York Times look something beyond foolish.

But this soldier and Bill Ayers are both anti-war people, and those are the kinds of people The New York Times likes. So the rule of thumb is, if they like you and what you stand for, you get an easy ride. And if you -- if you don't, you don't get an easy ride.

O'REILLY: Let me -- let me ask you a question. Do you think before Ginger Thompson went out to do this piece, she was told by the editor, "Make it a good piece on this guy"? Do you think that happens?

GOLDBERG: No. No. I don't think it happens that way at all. But nor do I think that if something bad was happening at Disney World, the producer of the "World News Tonight" would get a memo from Disney saying, "Hey, go easy on this." People just know. They just know. They know what the feeling is in the newsroom. They know what the feeling is of the publisher. They know what the feeling is of the editors, who...

O'REILLY: Just give them what they want.

GOLDBERG: ...whose careers -- yes. And they just, you know -- and by the way they don't hire a lot of people who have different points of view to begin with.

O'REILLY: No. There's a litmus test. But it is pretty outrageous to glorify this Manning guy when he could get people killed.

GOLDBERG: Yes.

O'REILLY: It's pretty outrageous. All right, Bernie, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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