Can Libya be compared to Watergate?

Journalist Bob Woodward compares the Benghazi scandal to Watergate


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 19, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: "Impact Segment" tonight.

I trust most of you are up to speed on the Libyan situation. We still don't know who ordered UN Ambassador Susan Rice to say the attack was motivated by a stupid videotape when the Obama administration well knew it was a coordinated terrorist situation from the jump.

Congress is trying to get to the bottom of it and most of the press are sitting it out. Joining us from Washington journalist Bob Woodward, author of the best-selling book "The Price of Politics" -- we're going to get to that in a moment about the budget and all of that.

Mr. Woodward of course broke many of the Watergate stories back in the early 70s. Do you see any parallels here? And I say that because the government right now, the Obama administration is stonewalling. They don't want to tell the folks -- and I don't know why, maybe you do, why wouldn't you want to just say here is what happened? I don't get it do you see any parallels?

BOB WOODWARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Not yet. I mean we don't know that there is a crime of corruption here but I do agree we should dig into it. At least the Obama White House has not come out and said it was a third rate terrorist attack. They have just been basically silent. And --

O'REILLY: But why? Do you have any theory on why? I just don't understand if you know it's a terror attack, tell the American people we can take it.

WOODWARD: Well, they kind of did. And they kind of didn't. And, of course, that's the problem here. The way I look at this is how do you go about finding out what really happened? And you need a procedure and a method and that is you've got to find the non-political appointees, the -- you know, the regular government workers in the White House, in the intelligence agency and dig into it and that takes time.

I've spent some time -- not enough -- because I've been working on other things. But talking to some people about this and I don't -- as I said -- see a corruption here. This could be explained by misjudgment -- clearly it is a serious situation. And you know let's -- let's keep working in.

O'REILLY: But here -- here is the parallel that I see with Watergate. And by the way I got into journalism because of you and the "The Washington Post." I mean I just slammed the "The Washington Post" but I got into journalism.

WOODWARD: Well you don't want to blame us.

O'REILLY: All right, because of Bernstein and Woodward and the Watergate thing because I saw how you guys basically took on the establishment. And you got to the truth and it was painful and it was bloody. We don't have that kind of a press now by the way. We don't have a lot of that anymore. We have a few that do it but very few and so it's changed.

WOODWARD: Not enough of it, I agree.

O'REILLY: Yes right, it's changed. But -- but here is the parallel I see. Nixon clearly could have said at the very beginning hey, these -- these idiots broke into the Watergate headquarters and they shouldn't have done it. And I'm sorry about it. And if I had anything to do with it, I apologize. But that's not what I meant.

And he could have gotten a lot, you know, he got in deeper and deeper and deeper by trying to cover it up. I don't understand why President Obama at that press conference last week didn't just say look, it was a screw up. We screwed up. I don't know why Susan Rice went out but, of course, he does know why. Who told -- he -- I don't know why he's not being upfront about it. I just don't.

WOODWARD: But he said, I mean give him credit. He said don't come after Susan Rice. Come after me.

O'REILLY: So what? But I'm coming after you. Tell us the truth. You know the truth, tell us the truth.

WOODWARD: Ok, exactly. And you've got to dig into it. But you can't do it on a supposition because there are unanswered questions --

O'REILLY: But can't we hold the President of the United States responsible for stonewalling an important issue like this?

WOODWARD: I think keep digging at it but you've got to have facts. And unfortunately I've listened to all the coverage. I have read the things. There are serious issues here. I mean, my God, four people died. The job of the President is to protect everyone. It didn't happen in this case.

O'REILLY: I'm not accusing -- listen, I'm not accusing the Obama administration for anything other than failing to tell the American people what it knows. That's all.

WOODWARD: Well --.

O'REILLY: And that's beyond of a reasonable doubt. They just won't.

WOODWARD: Yes, I agree. We should -- we should dig into it and the last thing I ever want to do is to be anywhere particularly on your show saying there is nothing to it and then it's going to turn out to be a big deal.

O'REILLY: Yes. And I don't know that. And I don't know that but I'm disappointed that Mr. Obama won't explain it.

All right, now, your book is about obviously these -- the Democratic and Republican Party trying to get some kind of budget, trying to get things under control with the $16 trillion debt. Do you think they are going to get this deal before the end of the year?

WOODWARD: Yes, but it's more than about a budget or $16 trillion in debt. The issue is, do we have the financial House of the U.S. government in order and as I'm sure you would agree, we don't, we don't even come close. It's a mess. And if they don't fix something on the fiscal cliff, the tax rates, which are going to go up for everyone, the automatic spending cuts, which make absolutely no sense. If you and I sat down and devised it this way, we would have our head examined.

O'REILLY: Yes it's crazy. But do you think, I think they are going to come to some kind of deal. I don't think they are going to lead that happen.

WOODWARD: Let's -- let's hope not because if they do it's going to be an economic catastrophe.

O'REILLY: Sure the stock market is going to be down 700 points. Right.

WOODWARD: But it's going to be -- it's going to be a leadership catastrophe.

O'REILLY: Were you surprised that -- were you -- after writing this book and you know, it's fairly critical of the President and the Republican Party as well. Were you surprised he was re-elected?

WOODWARD: You know, you never -- never can tell -- but the issues in this book, which I think are central to what this country really is and how we fix things, you know, there is a foreign minister or finance minister out there from another country saying the U.S. government is one budget deal away from being a great country. And that's -- we need to fix that.

O'REILLY: Yes absolutely. Bob Woodward thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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