This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, May 19, 2003. Click here to order the complete transcript.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the Factor Follow-up segment tonight, as we told you last week, the French business association is reporting that an informal boycott by Americans of French products has cost France more than $500 million so far, obviously a huge hit to an economy on the brink of recession. There is no question that millions of Americans are angry with France over their conduct vis-a-vis Iraq.
With us now is Peter Hart, a media analyst at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a liberal group, and Georges Leclere, the executive director of the International TV Academy.
Mr. Leclere, we'll begin with you. Americans are angry basically because they feel that France did not take into account our security problems here, that the war was an attempt to negate a terrorist state that could have very bad consequences for the United States in the future. How do you rebut that?
GEORGES LECLERE, INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY OF TV ARTS & SCIENCES: Well, first, I think the French took care of your constant security. They were -- we were under terrorist attacks for a long time. We knew that 9/11 was much bigger than anything else, but we had terrorist attacks for the last 20 years. So we know what security is. We know what's international terrorists.
And I heard Mr. Chirac, our president, say I'm going to follow the Americans to help fight against international terrorism. So, on this, they totally agree. What you say is that they didn't want to go to war with Iraq. They wanted another means.
O'REILLY: Yes, but another means that was not in the best interest of the United States, according to the folks. You know, we'd taken polls on this.
O'REILLY: So we -- see, I'm not -- I don't want to debate the issue with you guys because this is foolish. You can hold your opinion, and we hold ours. But there's no question the American public feel betrayed by the French, all right?
LECLERE: Yes, I see that every day in my life.
O'REILLY: You see it every day, right?
LECLERE: Yes. A little less now. A little less now than a month ago.
O'REILLY: Well, OK, but still ain't anybody flying over to France. I mean, you know, tourism's down like 70 percent. Is that a just response?
PETER HART, FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY IN REPORTING: I don't know if it's a just response. I know a country is certainly entitled to monitor the media to see how it's being portrayed. I don't think that's unusual.
I also don't think it would be unusual if another country decided to float information that was true or maybe untrue into the media about a country they perceived as hostile. That's what the French say the Americans were doing in this case.
The question is how the media handle that kind of information. [FOX News Military Analyst and former U.S. Army Maj. General] Paul Vallely was on this show a couple of weeks ago saying he endorsed the story that the French were helping Iraqi officials escape the country during the war.
HART: He didn't have any information to back it up. He just said it was going to come out...
O'REILLY: Well, General Vallely basically...
HART: It was going to come out in...
O'REILLY: ... deals with Pentagon people.
HART: Yes, but that's irresponsible, to go on the air...
O'REILLY: No, no.
HART: ... and say this is going to be true eventually.
O'REILLY: No, no, no. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. What's irresponsible is if it's not true. I mean he's using protected sources, which, as you know, in this business -- I don't use them, but it's legitimate to use protected sources because you don't get any information from the government unless you do. So Vallely's on firm ground unless the report isn't true, and you don't know it and I don't know it and Mr. Leclere doesn't know it yet.
HART: But he...
O'REILLY: Let me -- let me raise this question. All right. What we know is true because these -- these documents are now in the hands of Americans, all right, is that, in Baghdad, there was a folder labeled France 2001, all right, and, in that folder, there -- it's revealed that the French government at the highest levels was briefing Saddam Hussein right up until the war started. Now what's that all about? You know when that comes out, Mr. Leclere, Americans are going to go, hey, blank you guys.
LECLERE: Briefing on what?
O'REILLY: I don't know. I'm not there.
LECLERE: Ah, tell me...
O'REILLY: But they shouldn't be briefing them on anything.
LECLERE: No briefing -- I agree with you shouldn't brief, but he should take care of his interests. We have huge interests in Iraq. The oil fields...
O'REILLY: You sold us out for the oil. You sold us out.
LECLERE: No. Well, it's 8 percent of the French consumption oil from Iraq.
O'REILLY: You sold us out for oil, though. You didn't...
O'REILLY: Look, Saddam Hussein's out of there now, OK. Everybody knows now we got mass graves, we got this, we got -- you guys sold us out for the oil, did you not?
LECLERE: No, absolutely not. I think France -- most of the French people are very happy that the U.S. went to get rid of Saddam.
O'REILLY: Oh, they're happy now?
LECLERE: Yes. They always were. They just...
O'REILLY: Oh, they were? They disguised it pretty well...
LECLERE: ... could not do it themselves.
O'REILLY: ... didn't they?
LECLERE: Wait. You are a superpower full of armaments. France is not like this. France is a much smaller country. Going to war like you did -- we cannot do it.
O'REILLY: All right. Let me ask you this, Mr. Leclere. We didn't ask you to go to war. We just asked you to -- not to stand in our way. We asked you not to send your foreign minister down to Africa to try to bribe two African countries to vote against us.
LECLERE: For the Security Council, yes.
O'REILLY: Oh, yes. You got Spain right on the other side of the Pyrenees, right? Spain, France, pretty -- pretty equal in size, pretty equal in -- Spain figures it out because they've got a big, big Basque terrorism problem, right?
LECLERE: Tell me how many Muslim people live in Spain, how many Muslim people live in France?
O'REILLY: I don't know the populations.
LECLERE: OK. It's over five million in France.
O'REILLY: So you're pandering to the Muslims?
LECLERE: It's an internal problem. You cannot just ignore a huge 10-percent part of your population. You have to be more...
O'REILLY: You've got to pander to them? You've got to do the right thing, Mr. Leclere.
LECLERE: Which is what?
O'REILLY: You've got to do the right thing.
LECLERE: Which is what?
O'REILLY: The right thing was to remove him. He's gone. He's out. Saddam is...
LECLERE: To remove Saddam?
LECLERE: Again, France agrees on that. They don't want to do it themselves.
O'REILLY: Yes, they want -- well, they didn't have to do it themselves. Just get out of our way. Am I wrong here, Mr. Hart?
HART: I think the point it has to come back to is whether or not -- you say, you know, they have these documents, it's briefing, we don't know about what. Vallely says the story's going to be true. We don't know when. Ollie North...
O'REILLY: Well, give him a little benefit of the doubt.
HART: Ollie North at the beginning of the war says I've heard stories that people are at the French embassy in Baghdad destroying documents. Turns out that story was bogus. Because we hear things and because it happens to be France...
O'REILLY: Look, I...
HART: ... that doesn't give...
O'REILLY: I'm not basing...
HART: ... that doesn't give us as media outlets the right to say whatever we like.
O'REILLY: Mr. Hart, I'm not basing any of my analysis -- and you know I'm the driving force behind this French boycott -- on any speculative reporting at all.
I'm basing it all on facts, and the facts are that France sent emissaries into Africa to try to bribe them to vote against us on the Security Council -- unacceptable to me -- that the French media was all over us with the most vicious reporting up until war.
Now Mr. Leclere says -- and I believe him -- that the French are relieved he's out, but they didn't -- certainly didn't show...
LECLERE: I saw the cover is of "Le Fran (ph)." "Is Chirac Doing Too Much?" That's was...
O'REILLY: Yes. Well, Chirac's done.
LECLERE: That's was in middle of the war.
O'REILLY: All right. Because...
LECLERE: So French media are very balanced, and part of French media...
O'REILLY: Oh, man. The French...
O'REILLY: ... and Fairness and Accuracy in the Media is a conservative outfit. Come on. They're not balanced. They're pandering.
LECLERE: OK. I'll bring you the cover next time, Bill.
O'REILLY: You can bring me any cover you want, but the French television blasted us, us being the USA, and everybody knows it. But, look, let me just tell you one more thing.
LECLERE: We had French journalists who died in Iraq...
O'REILLY: Can I -- yes.
LECLERE: ... and he was -- his body was flown by the USA to France to help us. I mean do you think TF1 -- that was the channel. Do you think they would have blasted you?
O'REILLY: All I know is...
LECLERE: They're very, very grateful.
O'REILLY: All I know is that our reporters in France consistently told us that the coverage was not of the allied coalition forces doing well, but of the brutality, of this, of that. It was like Al-Jazerra West.
But let me tell you one more thing -- and I know this to be true. I know this to be true. France lied to Secretary of State Powell, which is why he went to the U.N. and gave that powerful presentation.
In the beginning of the implementation of the U.N. resolution, they -- Powell went to them and said, look, if you vote for this and he doesn't cooperate, all right, within three or four months, you've got to support us in military action. France said yes.
They double-crossed him, all right. That is the God's honest truth, all right. Now that's why Bush doesn't want Chirac. That's why the anger is there.
LECLERE: You flew over France, and -- we gave you the permission to fly over France full of bombs. The bombers who took off from England flew over France, and you had the specific blessing of the French government to do that.
O'REILLY: Not enough.
O'REILLY: Not enough.
LECLERE: That's an opinion.
O'REILLY: You made up for Libya when you wouldn't give us the right to fly over there and an airman died.
LECLERE: Incorrect. Libya was the day I went to the U.N. I left French TV to go to the U.N. on April '86 for Libya. The U.S. planes flew over the Pyrenees to avoid embarrassing the French government.
O'REILLY: I don't want to get into that now, but all -- just take this message back to your government.
LECLERE: Please. I'm not...
O'REILLY: All right.
LECLERE: I'm not representing the government.
O'REILLY: No, I know. Just you take it back. Americans are teed off, and they're going to have to do something over there...
LECLERE: That -- that's -- I agree with you entirely.
O'REILLY: ... or we're going to remain teed off.
LECLERE: We have to do something...
LECLERE: ... and I'm very grateful for you to invite me today.
O'REILLY: Well, it's a pleasure, Mr. Leclere. Thanks for coming on.
Mr. Hart, nice to see you.
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