Bernie Goldberg on New York Times Editor Insulting the Eucharist and Media Hype of Hurricane Irene

Bernie Goldberg on the media coverage of Hurricane Irene and the New York Times' irreverent reference to Christianity's holiest sacrament


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 29, 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, two very hot topics: whether the media overhyped Hurricane Irene and the situation you just heard, the editor of The New York Times insulting the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Joining us now from North Carolina, the purveyor of, Mr. Goldberg. So let's take Mr. Keller first. What say you?

BERNIE GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: On his central point that journalists need to ask candidates for high office questions about their religious beliefs if religion is an important part of their lives, I totally agree. I totally agree with Bill Keller. If, let's say a candidate believes that the Earth is 6,000 years old because that's what the Bible tells him or her, and that dinosaurs walked around the earth at the same time as people did. Look, that may not affect his foreign policy or that might not affect her economic policy, but that kind of ignorance is going to affect something, and we need to know about it.

Now, having said that --and you alluded to this just before the break -- Bill Keller, I wish that he and The New York Times were as concerned about religion and politics during the last campaign when it pertained to Barack Obama, who sat in a church with a hateful minister for 20 years. So I'm not sure if Bill Keller is the right person to preach to us about the importance of journalists asking about religion. But on this matter -- on this matter, I think when a candidates' religious beliefs affect policy, that's when we have every right to know what they believe.

O'REILLY: Yes, and I think most people would agree, and I agree as well. But the way he did it with the condescension toward a central part of the Christian religion. I just think, you know, why do these guys feel compelled to do that?

GOLDBERG: Well, I'm going to leave that to Christian people of faith like you. But I will say in a broad sense that -- and this is a generalization -- religion to a lot of journalists, especially to a lot of very important journalists, is almost an alien concept.

O'REILLY: It's superstition. It's superstition. That's what it is.


O'REILLY: But if they had done that to your religion, if Keller had said something about a central Jewish tenet -- God help him he did it about a Muslim tenet, then, you know, he couldn't go out of the house. He would have been branded a bigot. You would have had people all over him, but it's a free-fire zone on Christianity.

GOLDBERG: And it has been for quite some time, but I think the important point you just made is The New York Times won't touch controversial Muslim issues. They wouldn't publish -- and neither would anyone else, for that matter -- but they wouldn't publish the cartoons that set off riots -- riots -- around the world.


GOLDBERG: They wouldn't publish the cartoons.

O'REILLY: They're not going to put themselves in harm's way. They know what they can get away with because we'll be the only news show today that covers this. Go ahead.

GOLDBERG: There will be -- there will be no Christians marching around The New York Times...

O'REILLY: Right.

GOLDBERG: ...threatening to blow it up.

O'REILLY: No, because what Christians do is they pray for Mr. Keller and perhaps offer up their communion for him.

All right. George Will thinks the storm was hyped. Roll the tape.


GEORGE WILL, COLUMNIST: Whatever else you want to say about journalism, it shouldn't subtract from the nation's understanding, and it certainly shouldn't contribute to the manufactured synthetic hysteria that is so much of a part of modern life.


O'REILLY: And you kind of agree with Mr. Will here, right?

GOLDBERG: I want to be very, very careful. Hurricanes are dangerous things, and they're no fun to go through. And if you come out of it in one piece and your house comes out of in one piece, it's no fun living with no electricity for a day or a week, a month, whatever it is. And I speak, unfortunately, from personal experience on that matter.

But I can't help but thinking, Bill, that one of the reasons and, frankly, one of the major reasons that this hurricane got so much attention was because it was heading for the center of the universe. It was heading for where media elite journalists live. It was heading for New York City. And I guarantee you this: If this same hurricane -- no, not this same hurricane, if a bigger hurricane were heading for Biloxi, Mississippi -- I know the population is different in Biloxi than New York City -- but if a Category 3 were heading for Biloxi, Mississippi, it just wouldn't get the same attention. There's a kind of journalistic narcissism that New York-based journalists are guilty of. They think that if it happens to us, it's more important than if it happens to you.

O'REILLY: Well, here's -- there's something you're missing here though. Why it got hyped up -- I think there's a little something to the New York thing, but I don't think that was the overwhelming national perspective. Hurricane Katrina changed everything. Ever since that storm hit now, every storm is hysterical. And plus, it's the end of August. There's nothing else going on, so the media latched onto this coverage. They drove it and drove it and drove it. Was it a bad thing? I didn't think so. I got tired of it. I watched the Little League World Series, Bernie. Nobody broke into my house forcing me to watch Hurricane Irene coverage, so there you go.

GOLDBERG: Well, I think -- I think we're both right, because I think the New York thing was a factor. And I think you agree with that to some extent. But you're right. In the post-Katrina age...

O'REILLY: You bet.

GOLDBERG: ...nobody's -- nobody's taking any chances anymore.

O'REILLY: That's right.

GOLDBERG: That's why you have politicians shutting down subway systems and things like that. They're not going to get caught on the wrong side of a hurricane. And that's why you have -- that's why you have the governor of New Jersey, who was on vacation during a big snowstorm, making sure that he was seen. That's why you have Barack Obama, who suffers from a leadership -- a perception that he's not a leader, taking charge of it. Katrina changed it all, and politicians are not going to get caught the way the bozos in Louisiana were caught back during Katrina.


GOLDBERG: They're just not. And the media has changed, too. You're right about that.

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

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