Turkey, the attack in Nice and campaign 2016

Bill O'Reilly weighs in on Turkey, terror and presidential politics on 'The O'Reilly Factor'


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 15, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Bret Baier in for Bill O'Reilly. Reporting from Cleveland tonight.

Thanks for watching this special edition of The Factor, "Terror and Politics." Bill O'Reilly will join us on the phone in just a moment to talk about the latest political developments and the Nice terror attack.

But we begin with breaking news. A military coup attempts in Turkey. President Erdogan of Turkey is out of the country. Said to be on vacation. He claims his government is now pushing back while the military there has announced it has taken control. There are reports from multiple officials in the government claiming that the coup has failed at this hour. But the situation remains confused with conflicting reports over who is actually in charge.

There is already bloodshed. Turkish media reporting at this hour, 17 police officers are dead after a helicopter attack on police Special Forces headquarters in the outskirts of Ankara. There are reports of police loyal to the government firing on crowds there are civilian casualties we're told at this hour. Thousands are taking to the streets confronting police. And military loyal to Erdogan. Wires are reporting explosions in Ankara.

Turkey has a history of military coups. And experts say, this is a result of President Erdogan shifting away from a secular government and towards an Islamic model with crack downs on the population. Enormous international implications with these developments in Turkey which of course is a U.S. ally and a member of NATO. We're told Twitter, Facebook, YouTube have all been blocked at this hour.

We are following this story very closely. We will bring you updates throughout the hour. We have a guest on this in just a bit. We will want to turn now to the brazen terror attack in Nice, France yesterday that killed 84 including two Americans. Wounding more than 200. That attack has vaulted terror to the top topics in the presidential campaign. Trump's supporter Newt Gingrich had the most provocative proposal to deal with the terror threat.


NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is a Muslim background and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported. Sharia is incompatible with western civilization. Modern Muslims who have given up Sharia, we're glad to have them as citizens, perfectly happy to have them next door. But we need to be fairly relentless about defining who our enemies are.

Anybody who goes on a website favoring ISIS or al Qaeda or other terrorist groups that should be a felony and they should go to jail. Any organization which hosts such a website should be engaged in a felony. It should be close down immediately.


BAIER: President Obama responded the Gingrich comments today.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: In the wake of last night's attacks, we've heard more suggestions that all Muslims in America be targeted, tested for their beliefs, some deported or jailed. And the very suggestion is repugnant and an affront to everything that we stand for as Americans.

We cannot give in to fear or turn on each other or sacrifice our way of life. We cannot let ourselves be divided by religion because that's exactly what the terrorists want.


BAIER: Gingrich later clarified his comments today saying he wasn't referring to any U.S. citizens or to any Muslims who are loyal to the United States. All this on a day in which presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump made it official naming Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate.

With us now for reaction to all of this on the phone is Bill O'Reilly. Hi, Bill.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": Thanks for sitting in for me, Bret.

BAIER: You got it. What about this, Gingrich and the response from President Obama?

O'REILLY: I think the speaker overdid it a little bit because, you know, I always go back to the fact that you can't single out any religion under our constitution for scrutiny. So, I -- you know, the sentiment is correct, I mean, Sharia Law is not compatible with the United States and the constitutional freedoms that we have. All right. We all know that. But, you know, we have tolerated in this country communism fascism. We have tolerated all of that. And I don't think you can basically say, well, we are going to give every Muslim a test to see if the Muslim passes the test.

And then it gets political. I think President Obama distorted the remarks and tried to, you know, he obviously knows that Gringrich is part of the Trump campaign and part of the Democratic strategy is to demonize Trump as this guy who is going to come after minorities Muslims, Mexicans, gays whoever it may be. I didn't like either the Speaker's remarks or the President's remarks.

BAIER: All right. So today Donald Trump makes it official. We talked about it last night on your show, about Mike Pence, Indiana governor.

O'REILLY: Right.

BAIER: There was some back and forth about it. But your thoughts and how this plays out. Not the process of how we got there but how this plays out for Donald Trump as he unveils this pick here at the GOP convention next week?

O'REILLY: Well, I think it's obvious that the Trump campaign wants to tamp it down a little bit. So they pick a guy who is deliberate in his actions, who is not hot like Newt Gingrich would have been. They are going to say, you know what? We haven't won on the Republican side. So, let's now try to convince people in the middle who aren't, you know, decided yet, and there is not many of them by the way. And we can do that a little bit if we tamp down the rhetoric and we tamp down the presentation.

So, they picked Governor Pence, evangelical guy. Social conservative. Conservatives in America should like him. That choice. Very smart guy. Capable of running the country in my opinion, but he is not an exciting guy. So, I guess they are just going to let Trump do all the excitement. It makes sense.

BAIER: So do you think that Pence is going to shore up the conservatives who --


BAIER: -- may have, you know, some concerns about Donald Trump and how he has been campaigning, what he has been talking about?

O'REILLY: Yes. I think that the combination of Pence as VP and the conservatives disdain for Secretary Clinton will get many conservatives out to vote for Trump even if they don't like him.

BAIER: All right. We were just covering at the top of the show the breaking news out of Turkey. And we are still trying to get a sense Bill - -


BAIER: -- of exactly what is happening and whether this coup has failed, whether it's still going on. We keep on getting these items coming over the wires of these attacks. In Ankara, the plane flights in Istanbul shut down. The President has sided with the Erdogan government. You would expect him I guess to do that.


BAIER: But if this coup fails, it seems like it would empower Erdogan to continue cracking down in Turkey, keep moving closer to this Islamic government.

O'REILLY: The picture for the American citizen who doesn't particularly care what happens inside Turkey is that the whole region in the Middle East is now in an uproar. The whole region. And this is what happens when the United States steps back and tries to become one nation of many and doesn't lead. Now, it would be interesting to find out if the CIA had a heads up on this coup, which they should have had, all right?

So if U.S. intelligence knew that this was coming down, I don't know if we will be able to find that out or not. I hope we will be able, to but the importance to Americans is that the Middle East is absolute chaos, anything could happen. And, you know, we are in a war against radical Islam and this kind of stuff just makes it more difficult to fight that war.

BAIER: Last thing before I let you go. You have a special this weekend, this Sunday "Legends & Lies."

O'REILLY: Yes. "Legends & Lies" really taking off now, become a major ratings for us and we have Benedict Arnold, the greatest traitor in American history, the most infamous, probably is a better word. And his relationship with George Washington which is not widely known. So, I think everybody interested in history and then the country will enjoy it.

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