Why does the media attack successful people?

Bernie Goldberg on hard times for Jay Leno and Matt Lauer


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 26, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly. In the "Weekdays With Bernie" segment tonight, apparently, NBC plans to replace Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon later -- no, next year. Not this year, next year.

The media is hammering Leno even though he continues to win the late night ratings race. Also, "Today" show star, Matt Lauer, continues to be criticized in the press for that program's slipping ratings and the Ann Curry firing.

Joining us now from Miami, the purveyor of, Mr. Goldberg. So, let's take Lauer first. Do you think this is a fair situation.

BERNIE GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, here's what I think, there are certain number of people out there -- actually, a lot of people, who like gossip, who like to know what's going on behind the scenes, and who wonder if Matt Lauer was the reason that Ann Curry got pushed out and broke out the family.

And, by the way, if anybody out there thinks the NBC "Today" show people are part of the family, you are really, really naive. But -- so, in that sense, it's legitimate entertainment news.

Not for me, but I don't care. The much bigger issue, Bill, is that there are more and more -- I'll put the word in quotation marks, "journalists" out there who like to bring down people in the media whoever achieve success and make money.

So, given the Internet -- and this is where a lot of this is coming from, there are people on the Internet who have virtually no power, they make very little money.

And if they could take a shot at a guy making $25 million, which is more than they'll make in the next hundred years, and this is how they derive their power, they're going to do it.

It's something relatively new. And it's not especially attractive.

O'REILLY: No. I believe every famous and wealthy person in the country is a target now for exactly what you said. But I think the mainstream media enables this.

And I'm going to get to that in a moment. But I want to stay on Lauer for a minute.

What people need to understand is, before a major talent is moved off a program, there's a lot of research done by the company.


O'REILLY: They just don't -- it's not a whim, all right. They research people. They find out who like who, who's watching whom. It's a scientific decision that's made.

I know Lauer for a lot of years. We both worked local news in New York way, way back. And I'm not a buddy of his or a pal of his but I talk to him from time to time. He never mentioned any disenchantment with Ann Curry at all.

So, I think, when this broke, I saw it as just a pure, "Let's get Matt Lauer a play because Matt Lauer is making a lot of money." That's all it was.

And the liberal press joins in even though Matt Lauer is a liberal. They don't care, "He's making a lot of money, so let's go get him."

GOLDBERG: Right. It would have been interesting to read a few more stories about whether Ann Curry was any good at what she did. Well, I know you're not supposed to say that.

O'REILLY: Well, you know, the research --

GOLDBERG: Yes, well, the research that showed that there were problems there.

O'REILLY: Right. That showed whether she was popular or not among -- because anecdotal evidence means nothing. When did it change.

See, you know, Cronkite, when he was in the chair, Arthur Godfrey, all of these people, the early icons, the press never went after them.

But somewhere, it has changed. So, now, everybody is a target.

GOLDBERG: Yes. I think that's a perceptive observation. Look, in the old days, there was Walter Winchell and Louella Parsons and even Rona Barrett.

And they had tremendous power. They could ruin careers but they stuck to Hollywood. They stuck to Hollywood.

What has happened since those days is we have an Internet, we have cable news. Both of these things, for whatever good they do, they also polarized the culture.

And when you have people on the Internet -- what's happened since those days, especially with the Internet, is that, now, being ironic which is a nice way of saying being sarcastic or being nasty, being ironic has value.

Being ironic is important. So, if somebody does a piece -- and, by the way, you're a target just like these other guys.

O'REILLY: The biggest. The biggest.

GOLDBERG: If somebody does a piece about you or one of these other people with a big name and a big following, then somebody else has to be snarkier than the first person.

O'REILLY: Yes. And then it just feeds on itself.

GOLDBERG: That's right.

O'REILLY: OK, Leno. NBC has always had a disrespectful relationship with Leno, I think.

He makes them a lot of money. He's still really the highest-rating skitter. But they're treating him shabbily, I think.

If it were me, I'd be angry. How do you see Leno.

GOLDBERG: Well, in terms of the media, I think one of the reasons the media is not enamored with Jay Leno is that he -- a big part of his audience is in Middle America.

And elites, whether they're in the media or not, look down their long elitist noses at people in Middle America. They think Middle America is a barren desert populated by hay seeds.

And if Leno appeals to those people then --

O'REILLY: Yes, because you Leno beats Letterman. But Letterman is treated much better by the mainstream media than Leno.

GOLDBERG: Yes, because he -- because --

O'REILLY: He's cool.

GOLDBERG: -- one of the most important traits -- what did you say just now.

O'REILLY: Letterman is cool to them.

GOLDBERG: Exactly. That's exactly the word I was going to use. That is the most important trait these days, or at least, seemingly is, if you're cool and hip.

So, Leno was not seen as that. Letterman is. And the people who take down people like Leno, they want to see themselves as cool and hip.

So, if you take down the guy who appeals to Middle America or, at least, get snarky with the guy who appeals to Middle America, that makes you in some way cooler and hipper.

O'REILLY: All right, NBC better be careful with the Leno deal though. There are a lot of money that they could lose there. But, hey, maybe they have research on Jay that we don't know about.

Thanks, Bernie.

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