Interviews

Bill O'Reilly and Bernie Goldberg Discuss Run-ins With Andy Rooney

Bernie Goldberg analyzes CBS News icon's impact on country

 

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 3, 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: CBS News icon Andy Rooney said goodbye last night on "60 Minutes."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDY ROONEY, FORMER "60 MINUTES" COMMENTATOR: This is a moment I've dreaded. I wish I could do this forever. I can't though. But I'm not retiring. Writers don't retire, and I'll always be a writer. A lot of you have sent me wonderful letters and said good things to me when you meet me in the street. I wasn't always gracious about it. It's hard to accept being liked. I don't say this often, but thank you. Although, if you do see me in a restaurant, please, just let me eat my dinner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: Here now to analyze Mr. Rooney's impact on the country, the purveyor of BernardGoldberg.com, Mr. Goldberg. How well did you know Andy Rooney when you were working at CBS?

BERNARD GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I knew him from around the halls. We talked more than once. And I had one particular experience with him where -- you know, his segment is "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney." I don't think they were his best few minutes. And I say that acknowledging he's an American icon. He's beloved by millions of Americans. But I saw a weakness in him that I don't think is attractive. Do you want to know the story?

O'REILLY: Absolutely.

GOLDBERG: My book -- my first book, "Bias," came out 10 years ago, and I was on every radio and TV show -- you know how that works – in the country.

O'REILLY: Sure.

GOLDBERG: But I wasn't on "Larry King Live." I have no constitutional right or any other kind of right to be on that show, so I had no problem. The book was No. 1 without Larry, so I was -- I was cool.

But Larry had a number of high-profile journalists on talking about the media in general and about my book, in particular. Let's just say they weren't thrilled with the book. It was about liberal bias, you know, in the news. He had Andy Rooney on, and he asked Andy Rooney what he thought of "Bias," the book, and the topic of bias in the news. Andy said, "Bernie has always had a great knack for being a jerk." I have no problem with that.

O'REILLY: That's true.

GOLDBERG: Not only is it true -- not only is it true, I've been called worse. But then he said, and I'm going to give you two sentences here. Then he said, "There's no -- but there's no question that I, Andy Rooney, that I, among others, have a liberal bias."

Now, I'm watching this at home, and I say, "I don't care if Andy Rooney has a liberal bias. He's a commentator. What does he mean by 'I, among others'?"

He answers it with the next sound bite or the next question to Larry King. He says, "I think Dan," referring to Dan Rather, "I think Dan is transparently liberal. Now he may not like to hear me say that. I always agree with him. But I think he should be more careful."

So after I fell off the couch at home and got up, I'm saying, "I've never said anything that inflammatory about Dan Rather. This is unbelievable. He is saying conservatives have been right all along."

O'REILLY: Making the point in your book valid.

GOLDBERG: Yes, yes, exactly. So, he gets called -- taken to the wood shed by...

O'REILLY: He got yelled at.

GOLDBERG: ...by a senior executive who we both know. The senior executive said he was disloyal. I know this because Andy Rooney told me that in a phone conversation. So what does Andy -- this would have been the end of the story. So what does Andy Rooney do? He's got a nationally syndicated column, and he writes a column about this incident in which he says, "I was a guest on the 'Larry King' show, and I said some things that I would have been better off lying about or avoiding."

So what's the translation? If the subject is bias in the news, dishonesty is the best policy, but an even better policy is taking the fifth and not even talking about it. Look, he's 92 years old. He's had a remarkable career. He's an American original. But my few minutes with Andy Rooney in that episode showed me that he wasn't a stand-up guy in that episode, and he didn't lack -- he should have stood up and had more courage than he did. He was powerful enough.

O'REILLY: But he did tell the truth.

GOLDBERG: He did tell the truth.

O'REILLY: He did tell the truth.

GOLDBERG: Absolutely. And then he backed off of it.

O'REILLY: And how many -– no, he didn't back off.

GOLDBERG: Yes, he did.

O'REILLY: He said, "Maybe it would have been wiser for me not to tell the truth." He didn't say, "Oh, I was misquoted" or anything.

GOLDBERG: No, no, no. That's -- you're absolutely right.

O'REILLY: Right.

GOLDBERG: But a newsman -- listen to what you just said. A newsman…

O'REILLY: But how many of them tell the truth? None of them.

GOLDBERG: On this subject, none of them do.

O'REILLY: Right. He was one of the few, beside you, all right, who actually told the truth.

GOLDBERG: Bill, I know you. We've known each other for a long time. If you say something tough today that's true, you're not going to come back tomorrow and say, "You know, I'm sorry I told the truth. I shouldn't have done it. The world can't go around when people tell the truth all the time."

O'REILLY: Well, they were doing the corporate loyalty thing on him. You can't talk about your company that way. Da, da, da, da, da.

But my -- my great Rooney story is I was in the elevator with him on 57th Street one day. And he looked up and he goes, "You'll never make it."

I go, "Thanks, Andy. Nice to meet you." All right. That was the first time I ever met him. And the first thing he said was, "You'll never make it." And he was right: I didn't make it at CBS. You know, here I am, which galls the heck out of him.

GOLDBERG: It's better that he said that than if he'd said, "Have you ever noticed how people eat corn flakes these days?"

O'REILLY: Well, I wouldn't have tolerated that. But I actually laughed when he said it. You know, the guy -- the reason I respect Andy Rooney and "60 Minutes," the two, is that "60 Minutes" is an honest broadcast.

GOLDBERG: Right, it is.

O'REILLY: Andy Rooney, I think, is an honest guy.

GOLDBERG: Bill, I agree completely. He was honest. He said something…

O'REILLY: And then he backed away because they put heat on him. They said, "Hey, we're paying you half a million bucks a year."

GOLDBERG: And you're -- and you're cool with that?

O'REILLY: I'm not -- that's not what I do, but I understand what he did.

GOLDBERG: I was in a tough spot at that time. Well, I was...

O'REILLY: He could have helped you out. He doesn't care about you, and he doesn't care about me. Come on, you know that. In the shark-infested world of TV news, how many people care about each other? This isn't Up with People here. You know what I'm talking about?

GOLDBERG: I think I do.

O'REILLY: All right. Bernie Goldberg, everybody. Great story.

GOLDBERG: Thanks.

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