The media and religion

Howard Kurtz weighs in on media's attitude towards faith


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 15, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: "Impact" segment tonight. The national media continuing to demean religion -- it's been happening for years. And now NBC correspondent Luke Russert, son of the late Tim Russert, is speaking out about it.


LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I think the current world in which we live in, specifically with the American media, snark is valued. And it's very easy to come after people of faith no matter what their religion is -- Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, that you are sort of tagged with this -- this label of being puritanical and not understanding of others or different -- a different viewpoint.

I think that's kind of, it's -- it's -- it's lazy, number one, and I think it's just something that feeds the snickering masses if you will in that regard.


O'REILLY: And here is a perfect example of the snark. Last Thursday in "USA Today" the book guy Bob Minzesheimer wrote quote, "After Bill O'Reilly's interview with CBS's `60 Minutes' in which he said he was inspired by the Holy Ghost to write his new book "Killing Jesus" jumps from number two to number one. O'Reilly fan the critics saying the anti- Christian people don't want you to read "Killing Jesus" unquote.

Joining us from Washington Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz. So do you agree, first of all, with Russert?

HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS MEDIA ANALYST: I agree with Luke Russert that, in much of the mainstream media, there is a wariness, a condescension -- and good for him for speaking out, by the way, toward very religious people. But, I think, he goes too far in saying there's an effort to come after people of faith.

To me, it's more of a cultural divide, Bill, based on, in part, on ignorance because some mainstream media, particularly in the big cities, tend to be a very secular business.

O'REILLY: All right. When you say a cultural divide though, what does that mean. So, you're a secular person living in Manhattan or Georgetown, D.C, or Malibu, California. So what.

I mean, you're comfortable in your agnosticism or whatever it is you embrace, why would you try to demean somebody who believes.

KURTZ: Well, I think that a little many of the people in those cities may be, you know, churchgoing Christians or synagogue-attending Jews. There aren't a lot of -- for example, evangelical Christians in those ranks.

And so, they almost seem like an alien species at times. And so, when you get televangelists or politicians who wear their religion on their sleeves who get into trouble, there's not only an effort to pounce on that but also maybe a lack of understanding of what they believe in their hearts.

O'REILLY: Well, but there's got to be a reason why they do it. For example, the priest scandal in the Catholic church was met with glee in much of the liberal press. And they used it as a hammer.

KURTZ: Glee? It was a horrifying story.

O'REILLY: It may be a horrifying story but don't you tell me you don't know how much they enjoyed printing the horror. Because they celebrated it and the columnists went wild.

And I'll give you examples, I mean, all day long. "Huffington Post," a guy named Larry Doyle, Bill Maher on HBO, Joan Walsh on MSNBC, a bunch of gay activists, a bunch of abortion people.

All day long, just hammering, "Everybody in the Catholic church is an idiot. All the priests are perverts." And you know what happened. You saw it happened. So, I mean --

KURTZ: Well, I don't think that applies to the reporters of "The Boston Globe who first broke that story. You were mentioning some liberal pundits.

But here's another side to it. The History Channel runs this series on screen, "The Bible," record-breaking ratings, more than 10 million --

O'REILLY: That's the folks though. That's not the media. The folks have no problem with religion --

KURTZ: Not the media, Bill. It's by NBC. OK, here's another example, and I think this is an important one.

Pope Francis has gotten glowing coverage and deservedly so that you'll say --

O'REILLY: But why is he deservedly so. Because Pope Benedict --


-- did not get glowing coverage. Now, I know the reason why Pope Francis is getting glowing coverage --

KURTZ: Well, I bet you --

O'REILLY: You want to tell me the reason. You want to tell it --

KURTZ: Well, you'll say it's because he's more tolerant toward gays, at least in his words --


O'REILLY: Absolutely. There's no doubt about it.

KURTZ: -- and a lot of action. Right, but he's also a very media- savvy pope. He's a humble leader. And I think he's on Twitter. And I think that a lot of people --

O'REILLY: Well, here's the deal though --

KURTZ: -- who aren't even Christian --

O'REILLY: You're making my point for me.


O'REILLY: The left is basically against religion. Because religion opposes things like gay marriage and abortion. That's what it's all about, all right.

So, a guy like me then who writes this book -- and I firmly believe that the secular national media doesn't want anybody to find this book. And I'll point to the fact that very few have even mentioned it.

I mean, this is the -- far and away, the bestselling book in the world.

KURTZ: It is. But wasn't it CBS' "60 Minutes" that put you on to talk about "Killing Jesus."

O'REILLY: We're talking about a different animal though.

KURTZ: Is it right.

O'REILLY: "60 Minutes" is a different animal. That's a reportage program. They report on what's happening in America.

KURTZ: A lot of people jumped on you. A lot of people jumped on you for saying that you --

O'REILLY: A line that you've --

KURTZ: -- you woke up out of a dream and you felt that God --

O'REILLY: I didn't wake up out of a dream. That's a -- look, --


O'REILLY: -- I simply put forth what every Christian believes if he or she is a Christian, that inspiration comes from God, that there's an interactive God. And that was used, as you know, all right, --

KURTZ: Yes, I'm agreeing with you.

O'REILLY: -- to attack me.

KURTZ: There's nothing remarkable about that statement for a person of faith. It was used to attack you, all right.

People don't like you. But, at the same time, you love to take on your critics on this and help you sell more books.

O'REILLY: Well, that's not my primary motivation for talking about what I did. But why did they attack me.

Why did they use that, which is all that is, as an expression of what every Christian believes. Why would they use that to attack me, why.

KURTZ: You have a lot of detractors out there, Bill, who are happy to take anything that you say that's controversial. And I'm not saying that this was controversial.

O'REILLY: But why use the religion thing. Why not just say it's a boring book like somebody said, which is unbelievable, but they did. Why attack me on the religion then.

KURTZ: Well, I think where you and I disagree is that --

O'REILLY: No, no, you answer the question. Why attack me on the religion then.

KURTZ: Because, to some people in the media, and clearly, people who are not big fans of yours, saying that you were inspired by God to write this book sounds like, "Oh, he's kind of a fanatic. He is," --

O'REILLY: But everybody is inspired, --

KURTZ: I'm not agreeing with that.

O'REILLY: -- all Christians are inspired by God to do things.

KURTZ: And that's the --

O'REILLY: I'll tell you why they did it. I'll tell you why did it. Because they were playing to their crew, all right.

Their crew despises religion and any expression of it. And that's what these people were playing to. That's why the "U.S.A." guy put it in there, playing to his anti-religion crew.

Think about it. And that's what's wrong with the national media. It's a little pack and they all think the same.

KURTZ: Well, the media is a very big sprawling. I don't think everybody is just that. But I guess there are many religious people in the media.

But I will give you this. There is a cultural divide and I think there should be more, better and more sympathetic coverage of organized religion.

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