Ted Koppel Slams Cable News

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 15, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight: Former ABC newsman Ted Koppel is not a big fan of cable TV news.

Writing in The Washington Post, Mr. Koppel says: "Commercial success of both Fox News and MSNBC is a source of nonpartisan sadness for me. The trend is not good for the republic … Daniel Patrick Moynihan's oft-quoted observation that 'everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts' seems almost quaint in an environment that flaunts opinions as though they were facts."

Well, this is a fact-based news analysis broadcast here, and the fact is that we have invited Mr. Koppel on "The Factor" more than a few times. We want to discuss his ongoing beef. But Mr. Koppel is not up for the challenge, or so it seems.

So there is no question that the Fox News Channel has eclipsed some of the traditional news agencies as far as influence is concerned, and I believe that's what is bothering Mr. Koppel. As always, I could be wrong.

Joining us now to analyze is radio talk show host Tammy Bruce. She's in Los Angeles. And here in New York, Ellis Henican, columnist for Newsday.

So, to me, it sounds a little like sour grapes. Now I know there -- that being said, I know there are abuses in cable television, as there are abuses in any industry. There are people that are on the air who bloviate and make up stuff and spout lies, but I worked in network news and there were no pristine organizations over there. I was at ABC when Ted Koppel was there and it wasn't. So I'm getting the sour grapes feeling here. What are you getting?

ELLIS HENICAN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Nobody gives up a monopoly willingly. It's a whole lot more fun when you run the whole street.

O'REILLY: He is out of the game.

HENICAN: Yes, but clearly he identifies with the old version of television news. I'm not here to trash it, incidentally. I do think there is a place for objective news reporting. I don't think there is a place for point-of-view journalism like we practice around…

O'REILLY: Would you say the Shepard Smith program, Bret Baier program, Megyn Kelly program during the day, wouldn't you say that's objective journalism? There are reporters.

HENICAN: I might have slightly different reactions to each of those, but listen, there were traditions of what I would call old journalisms, what I grew up in. I mean, covering cops and courts and city hall and all that stuff in a balanced way.

O'REILLY: We do that.

HENICAN: Right, but that's different. That is fundamentally different and has different rules.

O'REILLY: But we do that. Do you not know that?

HENICAN: Clearly we do.

O'REILLY: Right.

HENICAN: But there is also a place in the world today, and I think this show is an example of that, where point of view is expected -- is expressed at a very…

O'REILLY: Koppel names me and a bunch of other people and said, look, these guys are just lying. They're just making up facts, Tammy. I submit to you that Ted Koppel could not sit in the chair where Ellis is, nor would he want to, and sustain my questioning. He couldn't give me examples of me lying on the air, using an opinion not based on fact. He couldn't do it and if he could, he ought to come in here and do it and shut me up for good.

TAMMY BRUCE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, that's the problem here is that what they are seeing is Americans, they are realizing, are seeing alternatives to what they claimed was the best thing ever, which was their princely pontifications every night with no contradictions. Now they are realizing that as Americans see what real, thoughtful coverage is with the variety of opinions like on this panel, they are getting embarrassed. Really, he talks about ritual in the article.

O'REILLY: Why would they be embarrassed? Look, they still make a good living. I mean, all the network newscasts make money. Morning programs do very, very well. I don't understand Koppel's beef. "Nightline" without Koppel was more successful than it was with Koppel.

BRUCE: Look, this is about the elitist snobbery, the monarchy having to realize and not liking the fact that barbarians and peasants have taken over. We're the commoners, you guys. That's a thing they can't stand. I mean, it's happened to politics and it's happening here.

O'REILLY: Tammy and Ellis is right on it. Everywhere a barbarian has taken over, you are looking at it.

BRUCE: Irish. All of us are Irish.

HENICAN: Tammy, I don't think we need to choose here. I mean, these are both legitimate ways to run a news organization.

O'REILLY: Koppel doesn't think so.

HENICAN: Koppel is wrong about that.

O'REILLY: Say that again.

HENICAN: Koppel is wrong about that, O'Reilly, and you should listen to me, but don't get in the frame of mind of thinking there is something outmoded or inappropriate about that traditional stuff.

O'REILLY: Would you cede that Koppel is smarter than you?

HENICAN: I wouldn't say that.

O'REILLY: I would cede that, you know, at least he is my intellectual equal.

HENICAN: I would agree with that.

O'REILLY: So he's desperately wrong according to you.

HENICAN: He is stuck in the past.

O'REILLY: Stuck?

HENICAN: He can only see one way of doing this game of the -- and in fact, we have proven here and proven elsewhere in the last 10 or 15 years there is more than one way to play this game.

O'REILLY: Tammy, I don't know why a guy as smart as Ted Koppel is taking this position other than, you know, as Ellis points out, he is stuck in the past, he won't -- just won't see it objective.

BRUCE: No, they don't like, look. This is one element. What they're seeing now is this major cultural transformation that was manifested to some degree in the midterms. Remember, just a couple of weeks ago…

O'REILLY: Election coverage.

BRUCE: Katie Couric was told -- told a reporter that she was looking forward to going into the Midwest to mingle with the unwashed masses. I mean, this is a group of people…

O'REILLY: She said that? Couric said that?

BRUCE: Yes. On the record saying she is going to go and wants to get to know unwashed masses.

O'REILLY: Where was that? I didn't see that, Tammy. Is that true?

BRUCE: It was either Daily Caller or…

O'REILLY: On the Internet.

BRUCE: The Huffington Post.

O'REILLY: I don't think so. I'm not buying that Katie Couric would say that.

BRUCE: Believe me, it happened. The difference is that here we have got people who realize network news is dead and they're jealous. That's the other aspect of this as well.

O'REILLY: Ellis and I are clean guys.

HENICAN: Please bathe regularly.

BRUCE: But a little unruly.

O'REILLY: More than a little. All right, Tammy and Ellis, thank you.

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