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Network links Tea Party with massacre in Colorado

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 23, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET!

BILL O'REILLY, FNC HOST: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly.

In the "Weekdays with Bernie" segment tonight, President Obama has taken a few shots at FOX News recently. Here's what he said in Virginia Beach.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just in case some of your friends or neighbors or, you know, Uncle Jim, who's a little stubborn and been watching FOX News. And, you know, he thinks that somehow I've raised taxes. Let's just be clear. We've lowered taxes for middle-class families since I came into office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: All right. Joining us now from North Carolina, the purveyor of BernardGoldberg.com, Mr. Goldberg.

I don't think this is a big deal. I don't mind him taking shots at us. Because we are the FOX News Channel and more skeptical of the president than the other networks. And that's the truth.

BERNIE GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I'm glad you said that, because I don't think that, in and of itself, is a big deal either.

O'REILLY: NO.

GOLDBERG: He takes -- he takes a shot at an easy target. The audience laughs or boos.

O'REILLY: Right.

GOLDBERG: And he moves on.

But at another level there is something significant going on here. Barack Obama, no bulletin here, really doesn't like FOX News.

And it isn't just because of those commentators who won't give him the time of day who are on FOX. It's because this is the network that covers Solyndra. This is the network that covers Fast and Furious. This is the network that covered his intemperate remarks about small-business owners last week.

Does FOX go heavy on those stories? Yes, but the so-called mainstream networks, the ones that are nonpolitical at all, the ones that are above the fray, they come to those stories very late. They downplay those stories. And you don't have to be a right-wing nut to get the impression that if they didn't cover them at all, that would be just fine with them.

O'REILLY: Yes, I mean it's all -- it's all a matter of degree. And I don't think the president has a thick skin anyway.

GOLDBERG: Exactly.

O'REILLY: I don't think he likes to be criticized by anyone at any time.

GOLDBERG: Exactly.

O'REILLY: So that's why he does it.

All right, ABC News, Bernie and I know Brian Ross very well. He's an excellent reporter, one of the best. He makes a fairly significant mistake in the opening salvo of reporting on the Colorado movie massacre. Roll the tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: I want to go to Brian Ross here, because Brian, you've been looking at investigating the background of Jim Holmes here. You've found something that might be significant.

BRIAN ROSS, ABC NEWS: There's a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea Party site, as well. Talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. Now we don't know if this is the same Jim Holmes, but it's a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. We'll keep looking at that. Brian Ross, thanks very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: All right. It turned out it wasn't, and that story was bogus. And ABC apologized, but the damage, of course, was done.

GOLDBERG: Yes. This is a big mistake not just on Brian Ross' part, who is a very good reporter normally, but also on George Stephanopoulos' part. He shouldn't -- he shouldn't be allowed to get by on this one.

The mistake isn't what ABC News and a bunch of critics, both on the right and the left, say it is. They say the mistake is that he jumped the gun. He said, maybe this is the same Jim Holmes who was in the Aurora Tea Party.

That's not the mistake. The mistake was bringing the Tea Party into this at all. Does the Tea -- what's the relevance of bringing the Tea Party into this? They don't have a reputation. Its members don't have a reputation for shooting up movie theaters or for shooting up anything.

The reason too many reporters drag the Tea Party into stories like this is because they have a predisposed disposition about the Tea Party, and it's not a good one. They think a lot of their members are unhinged, so they tie them to the Aurora shooting. They tie them to the massacre in Arizona. They even bring them in to the Times Square bombing, which was the work of a Pakistani because, you know, they think it's going to bring Tea Party in enough times.

O'REILLY: Well, they're looking for something to denigrate the Tea Party. Now what do you think Stephanopoulos should have done if you're laying at his doorstep? What should he have done?

GOLDBERG: I'll tell you what he should have done. But let's make something clear. You and I know how this works. When he asked Brian Ross that question, he knew what Brian Ross was going to say. Brian Ross didn't come up with this just on the spur of the moment on the set.

What he should have what he should have done -- I'll tell you what I would have done. And this is what he should have done: "Brian, I'm just curious. What's the significance of bringing the Tea Party into this at all? Let's say it is the same Jim Holmes who shot up the theater who's in the Tea Party? What's the significance of that, Brian?"

O'REILLY: I don't know. I think that would have been newsworthy. Look, if somebody from Move On...

GOLDBERG: Would it be newsworthy -- would it be newsworthy if he were a registered Republican?

O'REILLY: Well, let me ask you this. I know where you're going here. But if somebody from Move On, if that guy was a member of Move On and that was, you know, he was out demonstrating and this and that, that would become a huge story. Any kind of political activism attached to a mass murder is going to be a story.

Here's what I would have done. You tell me if I'm wrong.

GOLDBERG: Hold on. Bill.

O'REILLY: Go ahead.

GOLDBERG: Bill, if he had said before he opened fire, "I'm sick and tired of government intruding in my life," then, it might have been relevant.

O'REILLY: I disagree with you. I think that any kind of political component...

GOLDBERG: What's the relevance?

O'REILLY: The relevance is you're tying politics into violence. That's just irrelevant.

GOLDBERG: Only a certain kind of politics. If he were...

O'REILLY: Well, that's right. As I said if he were Move On, we would have reported it here at FOX and we would have been...

GOLDBERG: Wait a second.

O'REILLY: Go ahead.

GOLDBERG: What if he was a run-of-the-mill Democrat or a run-of-the- mill Republican?

O'REILLY: No. It would have to be an organization that has a high profile, that that's what it would have been. If he -- if he had been...

GOLDBERG: There were a lot more Democrats than there are Tea Party people. No, the reason they do it -- let's make sure -- at least let's make sure that you understand my take on this. The reason they do it is because they don't like Tea Party people.

O'REILLY: Absolutely. But I don't think Brian Ross has any ax against the Tea Party. I just don't think he does.

GOLDBERG: He shouldn't have done it. And it wasn't just jumping the gun.

O'REILLY: He was looking for the headline. He was looking to break the headline story. That's what I'm saying. So Bernie and I are actually agreeing in a kind of roundabout way.

GOLDBERG: Yes. OK. I will buy that.

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