Americans and foreign news

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 24, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly. In the "Weekdays with Bernie" segment tonight, foreign news. Americans really don't consume a lot of it.


This week, there are two huge stories. The President of Ukraine has been overthrown because that country is destitute and under the heel of Russia.

Folks rose up, the puppet president resigns, and a new regime is taken over there. Putin, however, may intervene. So, this is a big story.


In Venezuela, there's chaos all over the place because the socialistic government there cannot control crime or the economy. No surprise. That's what happens in most socialistic countries.

So far, these 13 people have been killed in the Venezuelan riots. Joining us now from Miami, the purveyor of, Mr. Goldberg.

So, you know, I'm doing -- I'm taking a risk, a ratings risk, --


O'REILLY: -- even doing this story with you. First of all, they don't like you -- audience didn't like you. And then I'm given topic -- what do we care -- Ukraine? What do we care about that." How do you answer.

GOLDBERG: Well, first of all, if my email was any indication, they hate me and you equally.

O'REILLY: Oh, that's not good for ratings.

GOLDBERG: That's another subject altogether. No, I think we ask ourselves a key question when we watch a news story.

And that is, "How does it affect me." We know how ObamaCare affects us. We know how taxes affect us. We don't really know Ukraine affects us. And we'll watch --


-- the video because we like shiny objects. So, as long as there's fire in the shot, or people getting their heads beaten in, we'll watch it.

But we don't really care about the details. That's number one. I have three reasons. Reason number, complex foreign stories don't really lend themselves to the fun debate format that cable television news has made so popular.

So, a confrontation between a liberal professor from Yale and a conservative from a think tank in Washington isn't exactly Bill O'Reilly versus Barney Frank. It just doesn't cut it.

And the third reason is the most important because it encompasses all of the reasons. And that is, foreign news, by and large, just isn't entertaining enough for us.

And it's really as simple as that. We like easy-to-follow storylines and complex stories --


-- from Eastern Europe, or Asia, or South America, they just -- they don't amuse us the way we'd like to be amused.

O'REILLY: No, unless American troops are involved or there's a villain. You can sell it --

GOLDBERG: No, I even disagree with that. Afghanistan, American troops are involved and they're getting -- unfortunately, they're getting wounded and killed. And we don't even care about that because --

O'REILLY: Well, that's because it's 10 years old though.

GOLDBERG: Exactly, that's right.

O'REILLY: In the beginning of the Iraq War and Afghan War, there's a lot of coverage. But once it gets to be 10, 12 years old, it's the same story.

GOLDBERG: That's right. It's an old --

O'REILLY: Now, some people --

GOLDBERG: That's right. It's not -- it doesn't amuse us or entertain us rather.

O'REILLY: I think you were with CBS News when television was invented, I believe, all right.

GOLDBERG: That's not necessary.

O'REILLY: You were there -- there was you or Godfrey, a few Muppets.

GOLDBERG: That's not necessary.

O'REILLY: Anyway, you can then bring -- was it -- did it used to be when Cronkite was there and all of this business -- Murrow -- was there more of an appetite among the American public --


O'REILLY: -- back in the 50s and 60s than now.

GOLDBERG: Yes. And I'll give you two reasons, I think. One is, despite the fact that we live in an information age -- I mean, there's far more outlets for news today than there was when I worked for Walter Cronkite.

In a lot of ways, we're shallower than we used to be. We're more interested in being sociable through social media, for instance, than we are with being, you know, knowledgeable.

So, I think we are -- a lot of Americans now don't know very much about America and don't care as much as we used to. So, if we don't care about America, we sure aren't going to care about the Ukraine.

O'REILLY: I have a theory. I have a theory about that. When my father went to World War II as a naval officer in the Pacific, my whole family was galvanized around what was happening in this country. We had to defeat --


O'REILLY: -- Japan and we had to defeat Germany. So, there was just tremendous emotion invested, people putting their lives on the line, our military forces.

Everybody was involved, people back home, people over there. Once the war ended, that emotion didn't end, so that the people took more of an interest in their country and what was happening overseas and here and there because that was inculcated in them by World War II.

And that's why they call it the Greatest Generation, the sacrifices were tremendous. But once you get away from that mass --

GOLDBERG: Right, right.

O'REILLY: -- event . The further away you go and you become safe and secure and that -- in 2001, that attack that jolted us out of there a little bit. But now we're back there.


O'REILLY: That's my theory on it.

GOLDBERG: No, I think that's a good theory. Add to that, that over the years, news organizations, the ones that we work for, for instance, at the broadcast networks, have closed down a lot of bureaus overseas.

So, this is a chicken-and-egg argument. Do we have less interest in foreign news today because the networks are covering less foreign news, or are they covering less foreign news because they know we have less interest in foreign news.

O'REILLY: It's the latter. And they take, as you know, surveys. And they take --

GOLDBERG: Yes, yes.

O'REILLY: -- all kinds of things. It's the latter. But they used to not care. See, when I covered the El Salvador War, nobody really care what was happening down there. But they covered it anyway.


O'REILLY: And, now, they don't do it because they want to make more money. All right, Bernie Goldberg, everybody. There he is.

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