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Journalists Attend Going-Away Party for White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 31, 2011. 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, White House senior adviser David Axelrod left his job on Friday to return to Chicago to run the president's re-election campaign. Over the weekend there was a party for Mr. Axelrod, held by former journalist Linda Douglass in D.C., and she used to work for the Obama campaign. At said party were former Fox News White House correspondent Major Garrett, NBC News correspondent Chuck Todd and ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper, all of whom cover the Obama administration.

Joining us now from Miami to discuss the situation, the purveyor of BernardGoldberg.com, Mr. Goldberg. So if you had been invited to that Axelrod party, would you have attended?

BERNIE GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first let me say that there's a better chance I'll be invited to Hosni Mubarak's going away party than David Axelrod's. But if I were, the answer is absolutely yes, I would. If a journalist is invited to a party, even a private party, where the president and his chief political guru are two of the guests, you must attend. I mean, they're obviously major, major newsmakers.

But I suspect that the question you're really asking is can a journalist go to a private party like this, socialize with the president and his political adviser and then the next day be skeptical journalists who cover them? Theoretically, yes. Theoretically.

But let's get real here. We're talking about -- a lot of Washington journalists have been too close to this president. They rooted for him when he ran for president in 2008. Except for an occasional hard question or a hard story, they continue to root for him. Many of them.

So in a way, Bill, it's a charade. And the charade is Saturday night we'll have a good time and socialize but Sunday or Monday morning, I'm going to become a hard-nosed journalist who's going to pepper you with hard questions and cut you no slack. Is it doable? Yes, it is doable. All I'm saying is because of human nature, it's not easy.

O'REILLY: OK. It is a very tough line. I go to the White House Christmas parties. I went under President Bush and I went a couple times under President Obama, because it's a business thing for me. There are, you know, literally hundreds of people floating around, and I do business there. I mean, I, you know, get people, and say, "Look, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah," and it helps me. But it's not...

GOLDBERG: Do you sell "Factor" gear at those parties?

O'REILLY: I do. We have a concession right outside the White House East Lawn. Private parties? A little bit more -- I don't know. I went to a couple of Q&As. I remember Donald Rumsfeld had a Q&A that I went to, but they're all kinds of people there. It really wasn't a party; it was a -- kind of a debriefing in a social setting. Ben Bradlee was there, The Washington Post editor, Sally Quinn.

GOLDBERG: Right.

O'REILLY: That kind of thing. But I think there's too much now. I really do. I think there's too much media power. You know, it started with Kennedy, JFK. He did it. He started it. He was the most successful president at basically making these guys all his friends, and they protected him. And ever since -- Nixon was the only guy that didn't have any friends. He hated the press. But Carter did it, and it makes me queasy.

GOLDBERG: I can understand why. And let me say that in all my years of being a working journalist -- and I've covered literally thousands and thousands of people -- I've only made friends, intentionally made friends with, seriously, Bill, only like three or four over all those years.

O'REILLY: Politicians, you mean?

GOLDBERG: I don't want to be friends. I don't want to be friends with people that I may have to cover again. I'm not saying that a professional journalist can't separate that friendship from his job, but I am telling you that we're all human, contrary to what the public thinks of journalists. And it just isn't easy being friends with somebody and then going after them as a journalist goes after people he covers.

O'REILLY: You made a good -- you made a good point in the beginning, and that's why I'm not criticizing Major Garrett or Todd or Tapper, because access is everything. Access is everything in this business. And you've got to be able to get people on the phone, and you've got to be able to talk to them. And if you know them a little bit, they're much more likely to talk to you than if they think you're some demon. So there is that to be said. I'll give you the last word.

GOLDBERG: Well, I think -- it doesn't happen often, but I think you made a very good point. And the point is that when you go to these things, not the White House Christmas party, but when you go to a private party -- by the way, thrown by a former journalist...

O'REILLY: Yes, Linda Douglass.

GOLDBERG: ...who then joined the Obama administration to spin health care on the press, there's a danger. There's a danger. And the danger is that you're a little too friendly. And when you're too friendly with somebody, you're less likely to be as tough with them as if...

O'REILLY: Or as skeptical.

GOLDBERG: ...they're a stranger.

O'REILLY: Right.

GOLDBERG: A little, yes. It's tougher to be skeptical, and it's tougher to be tough.

O'REILLY: All right, Bernie. Thanks very much.

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