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Paul Ryan attacked over poverty remark

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 24, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly. In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, Congressman Paul Ryan has made himself a target by talking about poverty.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

PAUL RYAN, SENATOR, WISCONSIN (R): We have got this tailspin of culture in our inner cities, in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work. And so, there's a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O'REILLY: And that's true. There is a cultural problem that THE FACTOR has documented for years. And that problem holds certain Americans back from competing in the marketplace.

But as you may know, if you say that, you become a target. You are called a racist, as I have been many, many times.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee issued this statement after the Ryan statement, quote, "My colleague, Congressman Ryan's comments about inner city poverty are thinly-veiled racial attack and cannot be tolerated."

Ms. Lee, by the way, a notorious race hustler. With us now, George Will, the author of the brand new book, --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- A Nice Little Place on the North Side, Wrigley Field at One Hundred. Now, you -- I'm going to ask you a baseball question in a moment. But you wrote a column on Ryan and you said, "This is ridiculous. Ryan pinpointed something that is true."

So, my question to you is, why does Lee and all of these and other people -- Sharpton, all of them -- continue to do this. Why.

GEORGE WILL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there are three reasons. In ascending order of importance, the first is it's a verbal attack.

It's a reflex on their part to call people racist, just as it was for Joe McCarthy to call people communist in 1954. People stopped listening to him. People stopped listening to these people.

Second, they're frightened of Paul Ryan. He's a political talent and might be a very strong presidential --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- candidate. But, most important, they're terrified of his fundamental message which the president himself has said and which social scientists have documented, that the fundamental problem is cultural.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

That's the word. Until the 1960s, we had this serene hope that, in Jack Kennedy's words, arising economic tides will raise all boats.

But we found that a lot of boats were stuck on the bottom and we tried to figure out why. Pat Moynihan and others looked into it and came to the conclusion that family structure is the best predictor of life chances.

That is, growing up in a two-parent family. When Pat Moynihan published his report 49 years ago this month, saying that there is a crisis among African-Americans because 23.6 percent of African-American children were born to unmarried women, he was called a racist.

Today, the figure is 72 percent.

O'REILLY: Right.

WILL: Fifty-four percent for Hispanics, 41 percent for all American children.

O'REILLY: Yes.

WILL: This isn't a white-black problem. This is a cultural problem across the board.

O'REILLY: And that's what Ryan was pointing out. He wasn't saying anything about color.

Now, we have said that this cultural problem, here on this program, we've attacked the entertainment industry for debasing and marketing to children things that you know are going to hurt them.

But the crucial thing is, when you talk about two parents in the home, you're talking about people who have to emphasize education. They have to look at the report cards.

They have to emphasize reading. They have to get the kids away from the terrible entertainment. They have to create a structure.

If you don't have that structure, what's a child going to do. The child is going to fall back on, unless it's an extraordinary child.

What's the easiest path. And the easiest path is to hang in the hood. Go ahead.

WILL: Family is the primary transmitter of social capital. By social capital, I mean the habits, mores, customs, dispositions, values --

O'REILLY: Right.

WILL: -- that enable you to take advantage of opportunities. The tragedy of America was, just as the Civil Rights movement was heroically removing barriers, legal and other barriers to opportunity, social regression set in as a result of the fact that the attitudes, aptitudes, the dispositions necessary to seize opportunity were not being developed among large cohort of children who didn't have intact families.

O'REILLY: That's right. All right, so that's the truth. And Ryan stated it and then he's attacked as a racist. So, I want everybody to remember who's doing the attacking.

Now, you are a big baseball fan, as am I. You're a Cubs and my -- you know, my condolences to the Cubs. Greatest Park ever, Wrigley Field. But the team just can't --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- win, as simple as that, can't win. It's not going to win this year. Why.

WILL: Well, that's a good question. One of the problems might be that Wrigley Field itself is so gorgeous that people, for so long, could go there on the principle that the --

(LAUGHTER)

O'REILLY: They don't care if --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILL: -- the ivy is so lush and the grass is so green and the beer is so cold and the sunshine is so beautiful.

(LAUGHTER)

P.K. Wrigley, one of the owners of the Wrigley Family --

O'REILLY: Yes.

WILL: -- said in the 1950s, "We're after people who aren't all that interested in baseball."

O'REILLY: But is it really that they don't want to spend the money to win. Is that what the crux of it is.

WILL: They've had inferior ownership, to put it politely, until recently. They now have, and the Ricketts family, serious business people who are also passionate baseball fans.

O'REILLY: All right. Now, Red Sox did it. The Red Sox, for decades, were horrible. And, now, they're one of the best franchises in baseball. Are you predicting the Cubs are going to turn around.

WILL: Yes, but not --

O'REILLY: Not in our lifetime. Not in our lifetime. You see, I love going to Wrigley. You're right, I love going out there.

I don't really care if the Cubs win because I'm a Mets fan but, you know, it's a great -- it's a great place.

WILL: Well, the Cubs haven't won since 1908.

O'REILLY: Yes.

WILL: Which means they're in their second century --

O'REILLY: They're due.

WILL: -- the second century of their rebuilding effort.

O'REILLY: They're due.

(LAUGHTER)

WILL: Which is taking a while.

O'REILLY: All right, the book is A Nice Little Place on the North Side. George Will, thanks for coming in.

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