An Outrageous Act of Betrayal? An Author Reveals Secret Tapes of G.W. Bush

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Feb. 21, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, there's a new book out written by a close friend of the Bush family, at least he used to be. The guy's name is Douglas Wead (search), whose last name is appropriate.

Apparently, Wead secretly taped George W. Bush in 1998 when he was thinking about running for the presidency. Wead then used those tapes to sell a book to Simon & Schuster, which is owned by Viacom (search) and is the parent company of CBS.

Wead does not quote from the secret tapes, but has used them to promote his book, playing the tapes for "The New York Times", among others.

This is just sleazy, but it is acceptable, it seems, to Simon & Schuster. Joining us now from New York is Dennis Kneale, the managing editor of "Forbes" magazine.

Now I'm not going to mention the name of the book. I don't want anybody to buy it. I don't care what the book says particularly. But I think the fact that now in America you can secretly tape anybody and then use this to make money is — sends a chilling message and it's disgraceful. How do you see it?

DENNIS KNEALE, "FORBES" MAGAZINE: I mean, there's no question you're totally right here. This is reprehensible, it's unethical, it's odious. And I can't wait to read more

I mean, in the book business now more than ever, where thousands of titles come out every year and very few books ever make their money back, and now more than ever you need to do something to hype it up. And clearly, Simon & Schuster found a great way to hype this book.

O'REILLY: You know, it's dining with the devil, Mr. Kneale. You know, you make money honestly. I respect you. I'm a capitalist to the core, as you are in your publication.


O'REILLY: This, as you said, is deceitful and odious. And Simon & Schuster buying into it makes them deceitful and odious, does it not?

KNEALE: It makes Simon and Schuster deceitful and odious. You know what? If you're a shareholder in Viacom, the thing that you want Simon & Schuster to make as much money as it can.

And sales of this book, which now rate somewhere around 150th or something on , are going to pop because of this. As a shareholder, as an investor, you are happy they're doing this. As a human being and a person who tries to be ethical, you've got to be a little distressed.

I mean, where is trust? When have we ever seen a presidential confidant do this to him while he's still in the White House?

O'REILLY: It's over in America for everybody. Not just President Bush and the powerful. It's over for Sally and Vinny. It's over. Because people are now going — any conversation that you have anywhere, any time, all right, is subject to sneaky people.

But here's what I don't understand. I want you to clarify. I respect "Forbes" magazine and I respect you. You've been a guest on this program many times.

KNEALE: Thank you.

O'REILLY: Are you justifying this kind of terrible behavior by saying it makes money so we should look the other way? Or what should we do? I think that everybody should condemn it and no one should buy the book. Am I wrong?

KNEALE: You know, we can preach about what we hope will be and then we can also just kind of tell the truth about what we know will be. And more people will go buy this book tomorrow because of "The New York Times." And even though you've been kind enough to try to not even mention the title of the book, more people will now go out and look for this book and figure out where to find it because we're talking about it right now.

O'REILLY: Yes, but if everybody condemned it, I understand that you're going to have people who don't care. All right. I got it. But it's not being condemned in society.


O'REILLY: I will submit to you that only on "The O'Reilly Factor" will you hear this kind of a discussion. You will not see it in "The New York Times," which gleefully did the article on it, gleefully.

KNEALE: Right.

O'REILLY: You know, give me the dirt, give me the sneaky stuff.

KNEALE: There's certain things...

O'REILLY: That's what I want.


O'REILLY: The New York Times just won a bunch of Polk awards. Give me the dirt. You know, and I'm getting fed up with it. I think that Americans have got to make a stand and say there's an honest way to make money and there's a dishonest way. And this for a friend of anybody's family to do this, I hope Bush gets them. I hope Bush audits them. I hope Bushes has guys follow them around and gets them. That's what I would do.

KNEALE: OK, two points on that. I'm amazed that this guy had the courage to do this. It made me wonder maybe a Bush aide said to him "you want to release the tapes, you go right ahead" because the tapes actually make George Bush look really good, I think.

To know in 1998 before he even ran, that he believed the things that he believed. And that — to hear him say "I don't want to kick gays" even though the evangelicals want me to. It makes Bush look good. Did a Bush advisor tell Wead, hey go ahead and do this?

Second, you read in "The New York Times" story and you'll see that Wead says to the writer, you know what, I'll let you listen to 12 conversations. I've got more tapes. Is he sending a warning to the White House that says don't come out hard against me because I might have some stuff on tape that's embarrassing.

O'REILLY: But I want to — you say it makes the president look good. The left-wing Web sites are going crazy trying to nail him with it. I don't care. I'm not a partisan. I'm not in the middle of this. I don't care whether it makes him look good or not.

I think this guy Wead is the lowest form of debris in the country. I don't think he should make any money. I think Simon & Schuster should be ashamed of itself. And I'll give you the last word.

KNEALE: You know, Wead is clearly slime here for doing this. And Simon & Schuster knows what it's doing.


KNEALE: And now let's see how America reacts and let's see whether this book sells or not. I want to see the transcripts of the tape come out. And watch, on the Internet, you're going to hear a copy of the tape of the president speaking.

O'REILLY: Probably so.


O'REILLY: Mr. Kneale, thanks very much.

KNEALE: Thank you, Mr. O'Reilly.

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