Tension Between Obama Administration and FOX News?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 24, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight: How bad is the tension between the Obama administration and FOX News? Joining us now from Martha's Vineyard, chief White House correspondent and birthday guy Major Garrett, who is 65 years old today.

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GARRETT: I thought you and I were friends. Come on.

O'REILLY: All right, well, I hope you have a good time tonight. Now, see, this is a serious story, because look, let's put it all out there on the table. FOX News is now the most powerful news organization in the country. And that means that we reach more people in a stronger way, particularly in prime time, than anybody else does. And we beat Katie Couric in the demographic last week. We beat her in July. We're closing in on all of the other networks, and cable, we just wipe them out. Why then would the Obama administration want to have a testy relationship with us? And do they?

GARRETT: Well, they don't with me, Bill. Look, I'm the senior White House correspondent for our network, and I'm very proud of the job that I have. I'm called on at every single briefing. When the president has sat down for round robin interviews with all five networks, I've been in place just like everybody else. The president has called on me at every single press conference he's had save for one when we were basically punished for the broadcast side of our network operations, FOX broadcast, not caring that prime-time news conference live. I wasn't called on as punishment for that. But other than that, Bill, that's been the only time that I've had to suffer.

Look, there are people within the administration who take a very dim view of some of the primetime shows on our network. That's been communicated to me. Not necessarily yours, but others. And during the campaign, I can tell you because I was out there for the better part of 14 months, down the stretch as we were getting nearer and nearer to November Election Day, I heard at least once a week some riff from then-candidate Obama about FOX News. And of course, he was a red meat crowd pleaser. And you know, I was either in the audience or listening to it in the file center. I took it in stride.

As to the strategy now, I would say it's not a strategy now other than the one time the president mentioned it in the White House, when he was interviewed by John Harwood of CNBC. And he specifically labeled us as a network that wasn't adequately favorable to him. That was way he put it.

O'REILLY: Now, that's ridiculous. I mean, no network should be favorable to President Obama. It's our job to be skeptical of the president.

But let's break it down even further. You got Greta Van Susteren, certainly has no ax to grind against President Obama. You have me, who you know, it's interesting the perceptions. Some Democrats feel that I'm an Obama hater. Some Republicans feel that I'm too soft on Obama. Both of those signals tell me I'm doing my job. I certainly don't have any personal animus or ideological animus against the man. Sean Hannity is a Republican. It is obvious that he does not like President Obama and thinks his policies are bad. But in totality, with Shepard Smith coming at 7:00, with Bret Baier coming at 6:00, you have a presentation that's not overtly hostile to President Obama. What we — what the contention is is that we glorify the protesters, but that's bull. We just don't demean them like all the other networks do. So I'm trying to get in my mind why the Obama people don't see this as a negative toward them. A fight with FOX hurts them. Helps our ratings, hurts their ratings. But they continue, I think, to make an issue of it.

GARRETT: Well, I mean, the one time during the presidency was the one interview we did with John Harwood. There — now, I know other cable networks when they hear the president say cable chatter think the president's talking about them. Many think the president is talking about us. During one of his recent town meetings, he said, you know, if you go across cable and you stop your remote at a certain channel, well, you know you hear some critical things.

O'REILLY: Well, of course that's FOX.

GARRETT: That's how I interpreted that. Of course that's FOX, you know, so…

O'REILLY: And you don't get, and I understand, and you correct me if I'm wrong, you don't get a lot of, you know, information given to you while they do feed it out, particularly to NBC News all the time. You don't get preferential treatment. You don't get pulled aside and say, look, a heads up, Major, this may be coming down. You don't get any of that.

GARRETT: Well, there are times when I've been given a heads up. There are times when I have been tipped to small things. But in the larger course of White House dissemination of information, every White House does it, Republican, Democrat, they all have their selected outlets. It is obvious we are not among them for the Obama White House.

O'REILLY: All right, but you…

GARRETT: I fight and scratch for everything I get. I'm happy to do it. I don't have any problem with it. I show up to work every day…

O'REILLY: Why won't Gibbs come on "The Factor"?

GARRETT: …and this network and this correspondent…

O'REILLY: I've invited Gibbs — Major, I've invited Gibbs on for the last three weeks. Why won't Gibbs come on "The Factor"? What's the matter with him?

GARRETT: Probably doesn't see much percentage in it. Maybe that'll change over time.

O'REILLY: All right. I want you to tell Gibbs for me, all right, that I'd love to have him on the program.


O'REILLY: Will you do that?

GARRETT: I will tell him, absolutely.

O'REILLY: OK. And we want to wish Major a happy birthday.

GARRETT: All right.

O'REILLY: And I hope you enjoy yourself tonight. Thank you, Major.

GARRETT: Thank you.

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