Rosie O'Donnell vs. Bill O'Reilly

This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, March 25, 2002. Click here to order the complete transcript.

To watch Part I of the interview in streaming video click here .

To watch Part II of the interview in streaming video click here.

To watch Part III of the interview in streaming video click here.

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the Personal Story segment tonight, Rosie O'Donnell. She is on a crusade to legalize gay adoption in Florida, where she has a home. Florida is one of only three states that disallows homosexuals from legally adopting, although they can be foster parents. Does that make sense? No.

Anyway, Miss O'Donnell has three adopted children and had to give away a fourth child she was providing foster care for because of the Florida law.

She wanted to come on The Factor to tell her story, and here it is.


(voice-over): With Rosie O'Donnell walking away from her television program in May, she is dropping all diplomacy and is on a mission to convince Americans that she and others like her deserve to adopt children. For some, it is a tough sell.

(on camera): In America, we have 90 percent of people who believe in God.


O'REILLY: And a large portion of those people -- and you know, as being an Irish Catholic, growing up that way, feel homosexuality is sinful, based upon what's in the Bible. So their thinking is, why put any child into a home that's sinful? Do you respect that point of view?

O'DONNELL: No, I don't, because I think that somebody's values and their morals are shown best in the way they treat others and their children, and the world in general. It's not necessarily the way that they respond sexually and emotionally to the person they choose to live with.

There are some heterosexuals that have heterosexual behavior that is appalling sexually, that is deviant and bad and not really moral and Christ-like and biblical. But those people are never questioned as to whether or not they're allowed to be a parent.

O'REILLY: Yes, they are. In adoption agencies, the responsible ones, there's a screening process. And you had to go through it.


O'REILLY: They check people out. And if you're a group sex swinging person, you're not going to get that kid, again, if it's a responsible agency. So it's...

O'DONNELL: Same with a gay parent, and that's all we're asking.

O'REILLY: That's right.

O'DONNELL: I want the same standard applied to homosexuals as is applied to heterosexuals.

O'REILLY: Would you say, though, it is better for a child, any child, to have a responsible heterosexual mother and father than it would be to be put in a homosexual home?

O'DONNELL: I would say no.

O'REILLY: Really?

O'DONNELL: Yes. And let me tell you this. I fund and work for an adoption agency, and we have many cases -- and you can call them and get the statistics.  When we have a birth mother who is pregnant and she doesn't know the race of the father, she is using drugs, and she is in crisis, usually we cannot place that baby with a heterosexual family. Almost all of the times when we have a drug-addicted child, we place the baby in a homosexual family.

O'REILLY: I would say that the course of nature dictates, all right? This is my opinion. The course of nature dictates that it's better for a child to be in a heterosexual home, again, with good, loving, responsible parents, than a homosexual home, because nature says the best way for a child to be raised is with a mommy and a daddy. That's nature.

So by disagreeing with that, you're disagreeing with nature, are you not?

O'DONNELL: Well, I'm not really disagreeing with nature, Bill, because in every animal kingdom and every species, 10 percent of the population is homosexual.

O'REILLY: Yes, but they can't -- only humans...

O'DONNELL: It's a fact of nature.

O'REILLY: ... can adopt.

O'DONNELL: But it's a fact of nature. So what you're... what you're saying is, by the fact that you were born homosexual -- which I believe people are born, but that's a whole 'nother argument -- you're saying to me, I'm not as qualified to be a parent as someone who is heterosexual.

O'REILLY: No. I'm saying to you it's better for the child to have the natural (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

O'DONNELL: I don't think there's anything wrong with having a mother and a father as good, loving parents. I don't...

O'REILLY: It's better.

O'DONNELL: Than what, than my house?

O'REILLY: Than having two...

O'DONNELL: Let me tell you this. I was raised...

O'REILLY: ... same-sex parents.

O'DONNELL: ... in a heterosexual family, and that was not a good family for children, though.

O'REILLY: I know. I know.

O'DONNELL: OK. So all I'm saying to you, you might think that that image, mother-father-baby, is one that always works, it doesn't.

O'REILLY: Right, but I'm saying...

O'DONNELL: And sometimes, behind the door is a deceptive truth.

O'REILLY: But listen to me for a minute. You're right.

O'DONNELL: I think what children need is love, security, stability, consistency, and kindness. That's what I think children need.

O'REILLY: You said on "PrimeTime"...


O'REILLY: ... that you prefer your kids to be heterosexual...

O'DONNELL: Of course I do.

O'REILLY: ... because it's much...

O'DONNELL: It's easier.

O'REILLY: ... it's much tougher...


O'REILLY: ... to be in...

O'DONNELL: To be gay in America.

O'REILLY: Right.


O'REILLY: And I concur. I think gay people have a much harder road. And I always say, don't define yourself by your sexuality.

O'DONNELL: And I don't.

O'REILLY: You -- but you did.

O'DONNELL: You know why I did, Bill? Because I took in a foster kid that I wanted to adopt in the state where I live, and I pay taxes, said to me, based on not your morality, not on how good you are as a mother, not on how much you've given to foster kids in Florida, based on the facts that you're in love with a woman, you can't keep her.

O'REILLY: Look, wouldn't it have been better, not only for you but for all homosexuals, to do these things privately through attorneys, through pressure on the legislature? I believe you could have crusaded and championed this cause without defining your sexuality.

O'DONNELL: Except for, Bill, I was a foster parent who was denied because of that law.

O'REILLY: Listen to me. Ellen DeGeneres...


O'REILLY: ... career has been shattered because of her in-your-face gayness.

O'DONNELL: I don't think so. Would I have...

O'REILLY: But now...

O'DONNELL: ... played my hand the way Ellen did? No.

O'REILLY: No. It was in-your-face...

O'DONNELL: But here's the --. Right.

O'REILLY: ... it was offensive...


O'REILLY: ... and she's paying the price for that.

O'DONNELL: I can understand your opinion.

O'REILLY: You understand why Americans watching right now don't want to hear about (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

O'DONNELL: I can understand, I can understand.

O'REILLY: Don't want.

O'DONNELL: Why do you think people don't think that homosexual parents are good? You don't know what a homosexual family looks like. I will be the role model for the good gay family. Don't let these children suffer without families because of your bias.

O'REILLY: All right. So you understand the in-your-face...

O'DONNELL: Of course I do.

O'REILLY: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Ellen DeGeneres, Anne Heche...

O'DONNELL: Yes, I understand it.

O'REILLY: ... offensive.

O'DONNELL: Yes, offensive to me as well, but I...

O'REILLY: Did you tell her that, Hey...

O'DONNELL: I said to her, You know what? Here's what happened, Bill. Matthew Sheppard was killed, it was horrifying to everyone. Ellen called me, crying, and said, would I march on Washington? And I said no. And she said, "Why?" And I said, "Because you didn't march for James Byrd."

And my worldview was not so myopic that all I see is gay issues. My worldview revolves around children.


O'REILLY: James Byrd, of course, the black man killed in Texas that was used in the presidential election as a campaign issue.

All right. In the next segment, Miss O'Donnell will talk about guns and the Clintons. You'll be surprised by what she says.

And then later on in the broadcast, Toyota finally responds to our investigation of Jesse Jackson getting about $700 million, that's what the Toyota company's going to give to minority concerns because of Jackson's pressure. We will talk with a representative of the company as THE FACTOR continues, and we hope you stay tuned.


O'REILLY: Continuing now with our personal story this evening, a profile of Rosie O'Donnell. She's seeing the world a bit differently these days.


We're from the same middle-class, working-class Long Island. You were the homecoming queen at Commack High School. I was nothing at Shamana (ph) High School.

O'DONNELL: But let me tell you this, we didn't have the money to go to Shamana.

O'REILLY: Right. Well, I didn't either, but my father made a supreme sacrifice to get me there. But anyway, we're the same person. Now I watch you, and I see a person whose values don't reflect Long Island any more. I mean...

O'DONNELL: I don't think that's true.

O'REILLY: Well, let me run down a couple of things.

O'DONNELL: OK, but let's -- let me say after each one, I want to respond, because here's...

O'REILLY: Oh, absolutely.

O'DONNELL: ... one thing. Anything you're going to talk to me about guns, I want to say it's after Columbine. Children were killed, and I am a mother, and I was devastated by that fact. That's number one. And I'm not excusing my behavior, and I stand by what I said, although some of my comments in retrospect seem a little outlandish.

Like the day after Columbine, when I said, Anyone who has a gun should go to jail. I was afraid that children were being killed every day.

O'REILLY: So you would take that back.

O'DONNELL: Yes. It was the day after Columbine...

O'REILLY: Right.

O'DONNELL: ... and I was watching these children be pulled out of windows with their bloody bodies, and...

O'REILLY: You reacted emotionally.

O'DONNELL: Well, emotionally. And you know what else, Bill? I also have some issues with depression in my life, and feeling as though sometimes the bad guys are in control.

O'REILLY: OK, so you weren't at your, the top of your game there.

O'DONNELL: No, I wasn't.


O'DONNELL: But I do think that the passion with which I spoke about why we shouldn't have these instruments that kill so many kids around so readily. I still stand by that.

O'REILLY: OK. No one wants children to have access to guns...


O'REILLY: ... and no one wants dead children.


O'REILLY: But the point of the matter is that when people like you speak out, it makes headlines...

O'DONNELL: Correct.

O'REILLY: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- but my point (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is that you, Barbara Streisand, and a lot of the celebrities who come off very judgmental. You have bodyguards, right?

O'DONNELL: Do I have a bodyguard?

O'REILLY: You have bodyguards.

O'DONNELL: Yes, I do.

O'REILLY: Because you need them.


O'REILLY: You're controversial, OK?


O'REILLY: They pack. And they...

O'DONNELL: They have guns.

O'REILLY: To protect you and your family.


O'REILLY: You have to give that same right to other people.

O'DONNELL: But I never said, I said I want all guns licensed and registered -- except for the day after Columbine, when I said nobody should have a gun.

O'REILLY: Right.

O'DONNELL: Because I was hysterical, crying and trying to do a show. And be funny. And I was emotional, and that's what I said.


O'DONNELL: But do I think that celebrities shoot their mouths off too much? Yes. And I can say one thing about what you did with -- after the September 11th thing? When I was called and asked to do that telethon, I said to the director and the people who were putting that telethon together, if you have a $1 million cover charge, I will show up.

If you don't, shame on you. The fact that they were able to raise that money and where it went is irrelevant to me, because the Red Cross is a national organization that does very good work, but the fact that every single person who appeared on it who had the ability to give that kind of money yet did not and was not expected to by America stunned me. It stunned me, Bill.

O'REILLY: So you felt the way I did.

O'DONNELL: The day after the September 11th, I called six celebrities myself on September 12, crying in the morning. I said I want to throw light into the dark, give me $1 million. All different kinds of celebrities, and we'll make a $20 million donation and start a fund today. It was 9:00 in the morning, September 12. All of them said no. So what did I do? I called my manager and said just give $1 million to the Red Cross today, and challenge every other person with the means to do the same. I'm not on a high horse.

I'm saying you and America, you should expect your millionaires to give millions. Especially if they're going to stand on TV and ask the peasants for pennies.

O'REILLY: All right. But you saw how much heat I took challenging the celebrities.

O'DONNELL: Because you like to do it. How you taunt them. You like it for ratings. You called George Clooney an idiot, and then Sean Penn called you a moron. And then everybody is talking about it.

O'REILLY: But it was more than that. I mean, we forced the Red Cross and the United Way to....

O'DONNELL: And that was great.

O'REILLY: But why didn't you put me on your show and get behind my cause?

O'DONNELL: I said on my show what I said. I said on -- we don't usually have political debates on my show.

O'REILLY:  Are you sure it's that or are you sure that you think I'm a right-wing guy? And...

O'DONNELL: Well, I wouldn't be here. Here I am. That woman right there didn't want me to come. My publicist, Lois Smith, 74, cried on the phone last night. People were saying to me are you out of your mind? I'm not out of my mind. Because I'm not afraid of you. You're smart, you went to Harvard, you went to B.U. like I did.

You grew up around the block. I know where you're coming from. I don't think you are a mean-spirited guy. September 11 changed a lot of things for me, Bill. I will say this, before September 11, I was definitely mildly myopic in terms of my political agenda. If you were Democrat you were probably right, and if you were a Republican you were probably wrong. Everything changed for me that day.

O'REILLY: Really?

O'DONNELL: My entire worldview changed. If you would have told me September 9 that I would have been at the world series game filming George Bush throwing out the first pitch with my 6-year-old son crying, I never would have believed you, but I was. Because my whole worldview changed.


O'REILLY: And when we come back, Ms. O'Donell on the no spin zone. Why she defied her advisers and came on THE FACTOR? Now the very thought of appearing her made her somewhat queasy.

O'DONNELL: If you want to lose weight, book yourself on the Bill O'Reilly show. Because for two days I've had diarrhea.



O'REILLY: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly. Continuing now with our look at Rosie O'Donnell, one of the most surprising things I heard in the interview was the change in Ms. O'Donnell's political perspective.


O'DONNELL: Sometimes when you get to a level of fame in America, you are given a podium that you're not --

O'REILLY: I do that, too.

O'DONNELL: Well, you know what. You've got to fill an hour a day. So do I. Anybody that you put on TV five hours a week is at some point is going to say something stupid.  I've been on six years...

O'REILLY: Yes, me too.

O'DONNELL: Five hours a week and I've said some really stupid things. And Giuliani, you know what? Like most of the people before September 11, at least the Democrats in New York thought he was a fascist. And that's a very strong word. After the 11th, needless to say, in cheers on my show, I said I have found a tremendous solace and strength in him and his leadership, and I have looked to him as a child would a father and it astounded me.

Also I will say, Bill, that President Clinton and the saga that he went through with Monica Lewinsky profoundly changed my die hard Democratic stance in my own mind.

O'REILLY: So his conduct offended you?

O'DONNELL: Terrifically and still has. And I have yet to see him personally since that day.

O'REILLY: You know what really turned me against both Clintons, Hillary and Bill Clinton was the Today Show fiasco. Now picture this, the person closest to you in the world -- all right -- says, oh go on the Today Show and defend me because I'm innocent. I didn't do anything.


O'REILLY: So Hillary jumps up and does it. Right-wing conspiracy, my husband didn't do anything like that. Bingo, bango, bongo, Hillary looks like a fool.

O'DONNELL: Correct. But do you think Hillary knew?


O'DONNELL: No way. I agree. She did not know.

O'REILLY: But did she do anything about it?

O'DONNELL: Afterwards?


O'DONNELL: Well, she was probably so stun and ashamed. Kathie Lee Gifford had the same situation.

O'REILLY: No. But it is different.

O'DONNELL: No. But one is elected, one's not.

O'REILLY: Hillary attacked, Hillary attacked...


O'DONNELL: But so did Kathie Lee. In the world of fame, Bill, seriously it reminded me of it.

O'REILLY: All right. This is what it showed me about Hillary Clinton. Her ambition and her lust for power over road her dignity.

O'DONNELL: And I think you're right. And what surprised me about Hillary Clinton, to this day, I assumed as soon as she was elected senator she would divorce him. I am shocked that she did not. I told all my friends, as soon as she's in the Senate seat she will be a single senator. From New York.

O'REILLY: You still have a great affection for Mrs. Clinton. Why?

O'DONNELL: Because the sins of the husband don't taint the wife.

O'REILLY: But she's not a truthful person.

O'DONNELL: Well, that's not true. What she chooses to share, you just said to me yourself, you don't want to hear about the bedroom activities but you want to hear about hers? How she chooses to work it out with her husband is her business it's not what I would do.

O'REILLY: They just released the Whitewater yesterday and we have looked at it. And there's no question that Hillary Clinton lied to the investigators about the billing records and about this and that. And if you look at career, with the Hasidim votes up in -- Hasidim votes up in New York, with a whole bunch of things. You find not a truthful woman.

O'DONNELL: Well, here's the stuff that I'm not educated enough to say --

O'REILLY: But you have power.

O'DONNELL: You're right, I do. I have too much power really. America gives too much credence to celebrities, to what they think and what they say.

O'REILLY: Did you misuse your power?

O'DONNELL: I don't think I misused it. But would I have -- you know, I would say that I have had a blind allegiance to Democrats in the past.

O'REILLY: Now you have referred to me, your humble correspondent as the Spin Factor on your show.


O'REILLY: Do you really think that I spin?

O'DONNELL: But isn't that what -- you have the no spin zone?

O'REILLY: Yes. But no spin -- the no spin zone.

O'DONNELL: But surely you don't think there's no spin in your no spin zone.

O'REILLY: Do you think I spin?

O'DONNELL: Yes, but I think everyone spins. You would just be an empty vacant shell reporting facts. I mean, you have your life that you bring with you to every moment that happens.

O'REILLY: But I don't think sincere beliefs that I hold --

O'DONNELL: Are spin?

O'REILLY: That's not spin.

O'DONNELL: Well, spin is not always --

O'REILLY: Spins is taking the truth and then twisting it around, that's spin. James Carville.

O'DONNELL: Well, I don't think that you're deceitful. I just think that you present your side loudly and articulately and with great showmanship.

O'REILLY: What's my side?

O'DONNELL: Whatever it is that you -- well, I believe that you are a conservative right-winger more than you are left-wing liberal. If I had to pick were you Republican or Democrat, I would pick Republican.

O'REILLY: But I'm against the death penalty.

O'DONNELL: Well, not only are you against the death penalty, you supported Geraldine Ferraro and you think Bobby Kennedy was one of the best leaders this country ever had.

O'REILLY: Right.

O'DONNELL: So when I read that about you, I said I will do Bill O'Reilly's show.

O'REILLY: But if I hadn't thought -- if I had thought that J. Edgar Hoover was a great guy, you wouldn't do the show?

O'DONNELL: It allowed me not to be frightened of you, when I read your stance and your views.

O'REILLY: Are you scared of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and those guys?

O'DONNELL: No. Not at all. But they're not journalists. I know the teachings of Jesus Christ, I know what they are, kindness, love, compassion, empathy, understanding.

O'REILLY: Do you think he's going to look at your negatively when you die, because of your homosexuality?

O'DONNELL: No way. Because he was there for the first 20 years. I think God is happy I can love in any capacity.

O'REILLY: When you see things like the Andrea Yates trial, for example. I thought that Andrea Yates got the proper sentence, life imprisonment. Because I think she's a danger to society because she can't control herself. Am I wrong?

O'DONNELL: No. I think that she probably should be locked away for the rest of her life, and it's tragic that mental illness is left unchecked for so long in our society. And that more people -- she was hospitalized four times with psychosis.

O'REILLY: And she tried to kill herself twice.

O'DONNELL: But this is a troubled woman. And I was thrilled that they did not give the death penalty, because we are not so savage in this country that we kill mentally ill people. Is she a danger? Yes. Is that a tragedy of epic proportion? Yes. Could it have been prevented? I think so.

O'REILLY: Maybe. Psychotropic drugs, maybe. I came down hard on her husband, Russell Yates who I think bears much responsibility.


O'REILLY:  People have to acknowledge wrong doing for the compassion to kick in. That's a basic tenant of the church. You get forgiveness when you ask for it.

O'DONNELL: But there is a gray zone between black and white, and that's where most truth lives.

O'REILLY: But his arrogance was: not my fault. Everybody's else's fault, not mine.

O'DONNELL: I don't know if it was arrogance as much as ignorance.

O'REILLY: Maybe.

O'DONNELL: I don't think you ever think your wife who home schools her kids, who struggles with depression --

O'REILLY: But that's insane. Home school five kids when you've got that kind of a psychological problem?

O'REILLY: Correct. Never mind psychological problem. When my kids go to school I'm the happiest woman in the world for three hours.

O'REILLY: But that's his fault for not...

O'DONNELL: Well, he should have picked up on that, I agree. And it's something he will kick himself for the rest of his life.

O'REILLY: I'm not sure. I'm not seeing a lot of compassion, as you put it, in his eyes.

O'DONNELL: Well, right now she's in shock, Bill. He lost his wife and his children were drowned in the tub.

O'REILLY: Well, is that why he did Larry King? Because he was in shock?

O'DONNELL: I didn't see him do Larry King.

O'REILLY: He was on Larry King. OK, last question. This interview, very tough? Was this --

O'DONNELL: I was very nervous at the beginning. As I said, if you want to lose weight, book yourself on the Bill O'Reilly show, because for two days I've had diarrhea. I also had to fight with every single member of my -- quote/unquote -- "staff or team" or whatever you want to say between Cindy, Lois -- between members even in my own family saying are you insane to go do that?

Everyone had told me it was a bad idea. But, you know what, I knew in my heart and soul that I had to come here, because I knew what I had to say is more important than how stupid I might look if you asked me something about Afghanistan. Because I don't know anything about Afghanistan. I know it's a place where terrorists are, and we have to go in there and our men and women should come home. That's all I know. I'm speaking as a mother. Every time you've ever heard me speak about anything, politically, it's as a mother.


O'REILLY: So there you have it. Tomorrow we will devote a good amount of time to your e-mails about Rosie O'Donnell so shoot them over to us. [Our e-mail address is]

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