This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 5, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: The top story tonight, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there isn't an anti-Christian bias in the media. Joining us now from Austin is Bob Mann, who teaches journalism at the University of Texas. Professor Mann was Ted Kennedy's press secretary. And from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Janet Folger, author of the book, "The Criminalization of Christianity".
Ms. Folger, we'll begin with you. Ladies usually go first on "The Factor."
JANET FOLGER, "CRIMINALIZATION OF CHRISTIANITY" AUTHOR: Thank you.
O'REILLY: I know you agree with me on this issue. Can you point to some data that supports your belief?
FOLGER: Sure. I started noticing the attack on Christians about a dozen years ago where The Washington Post said that Christians, the followers of Pat Robertson (search) and Jerry Falwell (search), are largely poor, uneducated, and easy to lead.
Say that about any other group of people, and it would never have been tolerated, especially in a news story. Ted Turner said Christians are losers. Christianity is for bozos. Again, insert the word Muslim, insert the word -- the Jewish faith and it would never, ever have been tolerated.
What we see now in sitcoms, in movies, in news reports is that Christians are depicted as the kooks. They're the idiots, they're the criminals.
And it's interesting to see that now the attack is so intensified. We've got Reggie Rivers from the -- in Colorado, he's writing to say that we ought to throw Christians to the lions, the kinds of things that Robert Reich...
O'REILLY: Who's Reggie Rivers? I don't know who that is.
FOLGER: Reggie Rivers writes for The Rocky Mountain Times.
O'REILLY: Rocky Mountain News.
FOLGER: We've got - Rocky Mountain News rather.
O'REILLY: But I mean, all right, all right, you got a lot of these kooky columnists. And I don't think we're going to give any credibility to him. But I do agree with you.
FOLGER: How about the former Labor Secretary under Clinton, Robert Reich, said that Christians are more dangerous than the terrorists who blew up the World Trade Center?
O'REILLY: OK, but you take...
FOLGER: These are the frightening things that are being reported in the news.
O'REILLY: Dr. Reich's comments were a little bit more sophisticated than that. I don't want to take him out of context. And I don't have the full track here.
FOLGER: You can get the exact quote in "The Criminalization of Christianity".
FOLGER: But that's in essence what he was saying. And that's...
O'REILLY: How do you reply to that, professor?
O'REILLY: How do you...
BOB MANN, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, JOURNALISM PROFESSOR: Well, you know, first of all, you ought to give -- correct your assumptions. That reference that she made was referencing one paragraph in one story that I think appeared in The Washington Post. And the insertion of background material by one reporter, it was immediately caught. The Washington Post apologized for it. It was a one-time incident by a young reporter who did not have very good judgment. And it should have been caught. The Post recognized that and took care of it.
As one who has worked for six daily newspapers, I have never encountered a single editor or a single reporter who would be opposed to presenting both side of that issue.
O'REILLY: OK. But you read Molly Ivans for sure.
MANN: I did.
O'REILLY: And you read Maureen Dowd.
MANN: And I did not see either one of those people say that Harriet Miers was not fit for public office because she's a Christian. We had a discussion on this yesterday in the class that I also teach...
O'REILLY: Well, wait a minute. Dowd pretty much said at the end of her column, you want me to read it -- well I don't know if I want to read it.
MANN: Oh, I read it to a class today.
O'REILLY: OK. Well, let me just get it.
O'REILLY: And I have it here. Because it is an attack on faith by Dowd. I mean, there's no question it is. And let me just read it to the folks so they know.
All right. She says, "President Bush is asking for a triple leap of faith. He has faith in Ms. Miers as his lawyer and as a woman who shares his faith. And we're expected to have faith in his faith and her faith, and her opinions that derive from her faith that could change the balance of the court and affect women's rights for the next generation. That's a little bit too much faith, isn't it?"
Now come on!
MANN: Well, no...
O'REILLY: This is all about her belief system! It's all about that...
MANN: But when you link the feeling about one issue as to whether someone who's a Christian or not, you know, one of the most visible people in this country who tends to lean to pro choice is the First Lady. And I don't think you're going to say she's not a Christian.
If indeed -- you want to extend that, then George W. Bush is not a Christian because he is running a war that results into taking a life.
O'REILLY: I think you're going out there on a little bit of a tangent.
MANN: But I have never known a journalist or an editor or reporter...
O'REILLY: All right...
MANN: ...who said let's not...
FOLGER: How about a senator?
MANN: ...get both sides of the story.
O'REILLY: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Stats...
MANN: Senators are --
O'REILLY: Stats talk and here are the stats. The country is 90 percent religious in the sense that 90 percent of Americans believe in some kind of God. Journalists, 70 percent. USA 9 percent atheist/agnostic. Listen to this stat: 20 percent of American journalists are atheist/agnostic.
So you might not know them, but they're in the journalistic media field far beyond the rest of society. Now...
MANN: I think...
O'REILLY: We've got two minutes to go. It's only fair to give Ms. Folger one minute and you the final minute.
MANN: Thank you.
O'REILLY: OK? Good ahead, Ms. Folger.
FOLGER: How about what U.S. senators are saying, like Senator Chuck Schumer, who incidentally put Harriet Miers on his list of judges he wanted to the president. But when it was coming time to confirm Bill Pryor (search), he said that we can't confirm him because it's unclear whether he can leave his deeply held beliefs at the courthouse doors.
O'REILLY: OK, but Schumer is a one trick...
FOLGER: It'll be interesting...
O'REILLY: To be fair, Schumer, I don't think it has anything to do with faith. He's a one-trick pony, abortion. That's all he cares about. It's all about abortion.
FOLGER: And that's really -- you're absolutely right. And as you've said in the beginning of your "Talking Points", if they don't bow down to the altar of Roe vs. Wade (search), they need not apply. But what Article 6 of the Constitution says, there's no religious test for any office, nor can there be. But you watch, keep track and see how many times you hear the words extremists, you hear hate monger, you hear right-wing evangelical. You're going to just be able to keep a tally.
O'REILLY: All right...
FOLGER: And it's all aimed as an attack against her Christianity.
O'REILLY: ...we're going to absolutely keep that tally. All right, professor, why don't you wrap it up for us? Go.
MANN: Well, the rhetoric goes both ways. I also teach at Texas State University down in San Marcos, which has a very fine School of Journalism and a lot of young people of Christian values. And our discussion yesterday was not about Harriet Miers feeling on abortion. It was about whether she has the qualifications to be a Supreme Court justice or if she's just another crony of President Bush.
O'REILLY: But nobody knows.
MANN: So -- nobody knows. And I think part of the reason you have the hearing, part of the reason you have the debate -- now frankly, Bill, I've talked to seven or eight of my liberal lawyer friends in Dallas who know Harriet. And they do not fear Harriet. And maybe it is because they just think she will approach the issue fairly, listen to both sides, and go forth in a way that works...
O'REILLY: And on the other spectrum, we have Ann Coulter coming up. And she doesn't want Miers at all. So it's an interesting choice. Professor, I should say. Ms. Folger, thanks very much.
MANN: How do you like my beard, Bill?
FOLGER: Thank you.
MANN: I named it after you. I have Bill beard.
O'REILLY: Is that right?
MANN: No black and white, just gray.
O'REILLY: Very dapper.
MANN: Bill beard.
O'REILLY: Have fun in Texas over the weekend.
MANN: OK, thank you, Bill.
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