Bernie Goldberg on Media Coverage of Obama's Ground Zero Mosque Comments

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 16, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Weekdays with Bernie" segment tonight: Obviously, a big media story is how the press is covering President Obama's take on the mosque at Ground Zero controversy.

With us now, the purveyor of the very fine website,, Mr. Goldberg. So this breaks on a Friday, you know, and everybody is on vacation in August, and they don't pay much attention to it. But it did get some newspaper play.

BERNIE GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, but I want to go back to the journalistic Ground Zero, to how the media began the coverage of this, because it affects everything else. Big media repeatedly described the imam who's behind the mosque as a moderate.

O'REILLY: Right.

GOLDBERG: That's their word. Repeatedly.

O'REILLY: Moderate guy.

GOLDBERG: Yes. And he is moderate compared to a lot of other Muslims. But let's be honest, that's not saying a whole bunch. Not long after 9/11, this moderate imam tells CBS News that the attacks on 9/11, America's policies were accessories to the crime. His words. That doesn't sound very moderate to me.

O'REILLY: He said that though because he was pointing to the U.S.'s support of Israel and its so-called occupation of places like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, where we have troops stationed, which has been around -- that theory has been around. Michael Scheuer advances that theory, the CIA guy. So it was couched in America's foreign policy ignited this Al Qaeda phenomenon, which led to this.

GOLDBERG: You know what, Bill? You know what? I'm sick of that argument. I'm sick of that argument because that's an argument -- this is a moderate Muslim? What does that tell you about American Muslims? He came here when he was a teenager. He's an American at this point. And that's how moderates think? If some Christian -- mainstream Christian minister said anything that controversial, I guarantee you the media wouldn't call him a moderate. In June, this same imam goes on a radio show, and he's asked if Hamas is a terrorist organization, as the State Department says it is, and he won't answer the question.

O'REILLY: He doesn't answer the question.

GOLDBERG: But he does say -- he does say that terrorism is a complex issue.

O'REILLY: Right. He's coming at it from, certainly that they're freedom fighters and they're oppressed, and this is why they do what they do.

GOLDBERG: And this is -- this is mainstream Muslims? You know what? The American people have been told over and over again to be sensitive to Muslim sensibilities. You know what? It's about damn time that Muslims around the world and in the United States -- I'm talking about this particular imam -- be sensitive to American values. Because when you say that 9/11 is partially our fault, that may be moderate in the Muslim world. That's not moderate compared to American values.

O'REILLY: Well, certainly, because the attack was on civilians. You're killing babies and women and all this other business.

Now, the media basically buys, I think -- and you correct me if I'm wrong – the liberal media, you know, The Washington Post, New York Times, CBS News, this kind of thing, they buy that America's foreign policy is bad and oppressive, OK? Generally speaking. We're the oppressors. We cause all kinds of problems when they go into these places. So that they're not going to condemn Barack Obama for trying to moderate our outlook, even though Barack Obama is very aggressive against Al Qaeda. So is that's what's going on here in the reportage of the Obama mosque situation?

GOLDBERG: You mean?

O'REILLY: Are they sympathize -- sympathetic to the president because they kind of buy into it's really our fault?

GOLDBERG: They're sympathetic to the president because they're sympathetic to the president. That's what it comes down to.

O'REILLY: Have you seen in this reportage -- NBC News on their cable arm obviously...

GOLDBERG: Let's look at it this way. On Friday night, the president of the United States gives everybody, not just in the media, but everybody the distinct impression that he's for the mosque at Ground Zero.

O'REILLY: Right.

GOLDBERG: Saturday morning, he says, "No, no. I was just stating that they have a legal right to do it." Every kid in junior high school knows they have a legal right to do it. The president didn't tell us anything. So, it makes -- it makes you wonder. And the press isn't going to write about this. But it makes you wonder, on Friday night was he tossing a bone to the so-called professional left, as his spokesman puts it, and on Saturday morning was he tiptoeing back to the center? Charles Krauthammer was absolutely correct. It is not courageous in the least to stand in front of a Muslim group and simply tell them what they want to hear and then the next day when you are a thousand miles away say you back off of it and say, "Well, I never said that." That's not what a leader does.

O'REILLY: OK. But he was reacting to the firestorm. Now, what about...

GOLDBERG: The firestorm that he created.

O'REILLY: That's right. What -- going forward, how do you think the media that cheerleaded for Barack Obama's election and basically supported him, even up to this point, are they going to continue to do that as his poll numbers fall and fall and fall, as things get worse and worse and worse?

GOLDBERG: I was speaking in Boone, North Carolina, on Friday night, and I was asked that very same question, except without the last part, as his poll numbers continue to slide. That's key. They slobbered over him during the campaign. They are in his corner. They think he is too historically important to fail. But as his poll numbers drop, they feel safe going after him. They feel safe because...

O'REILLY: Well, Bob Herbert of The New York Times went after him the other day. Some really, really hard...

GOLDBERG: As his poll numbers slide. But -- but my prediction is that when it comes to running against a real person, a real Republican, all will be forgiven, and they will…

O'REILLY: They'll coalesce around him.

GOLDBERG: Yes. They will circle the wagons around him again and support him. With Bill Clinton, the media went up against Bill Clinton with the Monica Lewinsky thing until impeachment came along, and then they remembered who they're for, and they went back to supporting him. And I think the same thing will happen with this.

O'REILLY: All right. Bernie, thanks very much. Bernie's got an HBO deal, what, tomorrow at 10?

GOLDBERG: Tomorrow at 10.

O'REILLY: It's supposed to be quite something.


O'REILLY: We appreciate you coming in.

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