Brit Hume on Media Reaction to Tea Party Convention

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This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 8, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Continuing now with the top story, the Tea Party Convention and media reaction to it. This statement by the keynote speaker Sarah Palin has received some attention.


CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": Why wouldn't you run for president?

SARAH PALIN: I would. I would if I believed that that is the right thing to do for our country and for the Palin family. Certainly, I would do so.


O'REILLY: Wow. Joining us now from Boca Grande, Florida, Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume.

All right, the Bill Sammon thing annoys me because I think Sammon is telling the truth. And we spend a lot of time researching this thing and found two stories that have been positive, and it's just hard to believe two out of thousands? Yet, you can't convince Jim Vandehei of that.

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BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Bill, it seems Bill Sammon has a point if you look at the blend of reporting and commentary on the Tea Party movement going back really to its inception when it began to emerge as a force, as Jim Vandehei acknowledged, the mainstream media were very late to the story, very late to the party and didn't really begin to take it seriously until recently. I would say though that the coverage of late has been, at least the news coverage commentary aside, has been more neutral and more extensive and I think better than it was.

O'REILLY: All right, but…

HUME: I think there has been some improvement.

O'REILLY: ...let me stop you there. You're now down in Boca Grande, on the Gulf Coast of Florida living large, OK?

HUME: Right.

O'REILLY: You and Sammon and all the other Washington bureau people in Fox News, you guys, you know, you get around. And you know the Washington players. You know the press corps, you know the politicians. You can't sit there and tell me that the press corps in D.C. or New York or anywhere likes the Tea Party. They think they're a bunch of rube idiots…

HUME: Well…

O'REILLY: ...who are out there causing trouble, and they want to demean them. Come on, that's the general tone. Not everybody. But certainly it's the general tone.

HUME: I think there's a pretty wide cultural divide between most Washington journalists…

O'REILLY: I love that.

HUME: …and most New York political journalists for that matter and the people who participated in the Tea Party movement.


HUME: Which is why I think, you know, so many of them find Sarah Palin so abrasive to them. In fact, I think, you know, that's been one of the wonders of the world in the last couple of years has been the sheer force of the reaction to her. And I think it manifests itself much more in the commentary than it does in the coverage, but you see signs of it in the coverage as well. As you point out, very few really favorable stories about the Tea Party movement. Certainly about her as well.

O'REILLY: Right, because you couldn't — what I — look, some of these Tea Party people are nuts. They are. They're crazy. I mean, we sent Jesse Watters down there, and he puts the number at about 10 percent that are just loons, out of their mind. Every group has that. But, when you go down and you see what the mainstream media does, covering the Tea Party, it's not gee, look at these people. They're taking the time, they're spending the money, they're getting involved with their government. Even if you don't agree with them, that's a good thing. Citizens get involved. Citizens having energy on a cause of their country. And you assume they're sincere, that's a good thing. You know, we don't get any of that, Brit. And that's what I'm talking about. You don't have to agree with the movement.

HUME: Right.

O'REILLY: But just the fact that these people walk the walk, they don't get any respect. And Sammon was highlighting that.

HUME: Well, I think also, Bill, it's fair to make a comparison between the kind of coverage let's say the big anti-war demonstrations that went on during the last part of the — last parts of the Bush administration, the kind of coverage they got. They there would be a parade of extremists up on the platform saying the most remarkable things and the coverage in a lot of mainstream media outlets would be focused on the nice couples and the little families that are down in the crowd and their kind of civic.

O'REILLY: That's a great analogy. It's a great..

HUME: But you were talking about — and you see a distinction between the way that movement was covered and the way this movement is covered. That's a fair point.

O'REILLY: All right, real quick. Sarah Palin, I know you have questions about her. Is she rising — her stock rising or falling right now in the "Hume Zone"?

HUME: Well, I thought her performance with Chris Wallace was more impressive in terms of her command of material and information than I had seen in some of her other performances. And she made it very clear in the course of that interview that she's working on that, that she's trying to bone up, that she's trying to become more conversant and more knowledgeable on national and international events. And I think she's showed signs in that interview that she has begun to do that. I'm not sure she expresses all of it in the most eloquent of way, but that's — maybe that's part of her appeal that she…

O'REILLY: Yeah, (INAUDIBLE) the folks.

HUME: …is plainspoken and speaks like the rest of us.

O'REILLY: Right. Andrew Jackson wasn't that eloquent either. Do you know what I'm talking about?

HUME: Exactly.

O'REILLY: OK, final question. Jack Murtha, Congressman from Pennsylvania, passes away from complications from surgery he had. Is there any way you can put him in perspective in 30 seconds?

HUME: Well, he had — he was — he had a great career in the sense here's a Vietnam War vet who rose to become one of the most powerful members of Congress in terms of defensive appropriations in particular. And he was a very strong advocate of a strong national defense and a friend of the military for most of his career and was honored by the Navy for that in the end. Along the way, however, once he turned against the war in Iraq, he said some remarkably intemperate things. He accused Marines of severe war crimes, murdering people in cold blood. I think it was a baseless charge. He refused to apologize. And he was a world-class pork-barreler. But on balance, in many ways, he had a great and distinguished career.

O'REILLY: All right. Brit Hume, everybody. Thanks very much.

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