ABC and Rosie

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 3, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: The top story tonight, corporate America involved in the ideological war back here in America. The Disney Company finds itself employing the highly visible radical leftist Rosie O'Donnell, now dubbed Tokyo Rosie by "Investors Business Daily."

After siding with Iran and accusing Americans of conspiracy on 9/11, Ms. O'Donnell has become the most controversial person on network television by far. The question is will a corporation like Disney continue to absorb the ill will Rosie O'Donnell is causing?

With us now, FOX News business analyst Terry Keenan and Charles Payne, the CEO of Wall Street Strategies.

Now Disney stock has done well this year, but this has reached critical mass. What do you think is going happen?

CHARLES PAYNE, CEO, WALL STREET STRATEGIES: You know, I think Disney is going roll the dice and continue to stick with O'Donnell. The thing is we've seen this movie before with Bill Maher. And eventually, you had advertisers pull out: Federal Express, Sears. And it hurt them financially.

Listen, Disney's a publicly traded company that's had some ups and downs. Recently, it's been up. But if they miss their earnings by a penny because advertisers pulled out, not only will it hurt the stock now, but it will hurt their reputation, which is battered for a long time.

O'REILLY: All right, Terry, now I would say Ms. O'Donnell has alienated between 60-70 percent of the country with her comments based upon the polls — that they didn't do a poll on Rosie O'Donnell — but 60 to 70 percent of the country are traditionalists. They don't want people rooting for Iran. They don't want somebody telling them Americans killed other Americans on 9/11. Can a company like Disney, which trades on goodwill among middle America, continue with this woman?

TERRY KEENAN, HOST OF "CASHIN' IN": I think they can, Bill. I mean, you're not going like that answer, but...

O'REILLY: No, no, the answer is fine.

KEENAN: ...they're going to stick with — this is a slow motion train wreck. Eventually, she'll crash. But what she does is she accelerates. She starts feuds. And then she pulls back ever so slightly.

And you know, the ratings, I know they're down since January, but they're up 20 percent year over year. She had record ratings for the sweeps perios. And the head of ABC Daytime said we love Rosie.

And she's going to cut a huge deal when her contract comes up in May. And they need to have her in May when the affiliates come to New York and want to see the programming for next year.

O'REILLY: OK, No. 1: There's no feud here unless there's a feud between Rosie O'Donnell and the American people. There's no feud. All right, this woman said things that are, A), untrue, B) offensive, and C) put our people overseas in jeopardy. That's the truth. It has nothing to do with a feud.

And number two, I disagree with you on this. I don't think ABC is going to give her a big number to renew. I don't think it's economically feasible for her to get $40 million, which is what she wants. And I don't think that the company is going to absorb this kind of pain much longer. You say it's a slow motion train wreck. This thing is off the track now, Terry.

KEENAN: Well, she's not going to get that $40 million. She's not going to make more than Barbara Walters, who owns half of the program.

O'REILLY: There's an interesting name.

KEENAN: But you know, if ABC wanted to mitigate Rosie, why don't they get an articulate conservative who can actually argue with her?

O'REILLY: That's a good point.

KEENAN: Put Laura Ingram or Michelle Malkin on there. Instead, they give her a bigger percent of the show.

O'REILLY: Well, we don't want Michelle on there because we like her here. But that's an interesting name, Barbara Walters. The damage that Rosie O'Donnell is doing to Barbara Walters is enormous because Barbara Walters owns part of this program.

Now I know Barbara Walters doesn't want any part of this, doesn't support what Rosie O'Donnell is saying, but is caught in an impossible position. Again, that puts more pressure on Disney because Ms. Walters is more valuable to them than Rosie O'Donnell is.

KEENAN: She is, but Barbara hired her. And I know as well that Barbara has said to people I can't control her. But Barbara's off interviewing Hugo Chavez. And you know, Rosie has the table. And she has control every day.

O'REILLY: All right.

KEENAN: You know, Barbara's backed off.

O'REILLY: Charles, you're the CEO. I'm firing Iger and putting you in the CEO seat of Disney. Not really firing, but just for this show.


O'REILLY: OK, what do you do?

PAYNE: Well, again, you know, he's probably going to roll the dice —

O'REILLY: No, no, Charles, what would you do?!

PAYNE: I would have gotten rid of her a long time ago.


PAYNE: Why? Because I think she's a mean spirited person. And Disney is not supposed to be a mean spirited company. Even though everyone's entitled to their right of opinion, I think what she does is she drags things through the gutter.

It's a one thing to say, OK, you know, I'm a leftist. But she is so anti-American that it's really...

O'REILLY: All right. Now I'm on the board of directors and you're firing her because you think she is mean spirited. —And she is mean spirited. — There's no question about that. She trades in personal attacks. She doesn't control her verbiage. She's go after people in vile ways.

But I'm on the board of directors. And I'm saying hey, Mr. Payne, this woman, as Terry Keenan pointed out, rose this program up 20 percent year to year. We're making some dough. I don't care what you think of her. Do what's best for the company. You say what?

PAYNE: Well, I say you know what? We have to look at this long term. You know at the end of Eisner's career at Disney, Roy Disney said the company was soulless. I don't think Iger wants his legacy to be that the company was classless. And that's where they're heading right now.

O'REILLY: Last word?

KEENAN: You know, if you watch the show, Rosie's outrageous comments are about five percent of the daily show. The rest of the time she's talking about decoupage and her children and the like.

So I think for the average viewer, the women that watch that show, they are not as offended as they would be if they saw the clips of her outrageous statements, just not in their entirety because the rest of the show is about lots of other things. And she gets a pass because of that...

O'REILLY: All right, so if you are the CEO, you just go blithely along and don't say anything to her?

KEENAN: No, I would try to counteract her. Put some people who can put her in her place. Let's have a national discussion.

O'REILLY: So you'd have a mud wrestling show then?

KEENAN: Well...

O'REILLY: Because O'Donnell is not going to book that. O'Donnell is going to go after them personally as Charles pointed out.

KEENAN: Well, that's the problem.

O'REILLY: OK, then you're going to have.

KEENAN: ...someone needs to talk to her about that.

O'REILLY: ...the World Wrestling Federation.

KEENAN: ...the personal attacks she needs to be talked to about that.

O'REILLY: But she's not going to listen. Doesn't listen to anybody.

KEENAN: That's true, including Barbara.

O'REILLY: Terry Keenan, Charles Payne, thank you very much. We appreciate it. Maybe she'll listen to me. Knock off the personal attacks, lady. Got it?

And we would like you to vote in our new poll. Do you think actor Charlie Sheen will be hurt if he narrates a 9/11 conspiracy film? Will Charlie Sheen hurt his career by narrating this stupid, dishonest film? Yes or no?

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