Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart Debate Common Controversy

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 16, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: If you watched "The Factor" last week, you know we thought inviting a rapper named Common to a poetry reading at the White House was a big mistake by the administration. That's because Common has openly sympathized with two convicted cop killers, including the notorious Joanne Chesimard, a member of the Black Liberation Army who was convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper, escaped from prison and is now living in Cuba. Common actually visited her in Cuba. But our pal Jon Stewart disagrees with the criticism of Common. So I challenged him last week to a debate and he answered the call.


O'REILLY: All right, Stewart, I'm shocked. I am shocked that you don't understand why people like me and millions of other Americans are upset, annoyed and looking for answers that a guy like Common would be entertained at the White House. Common traveled to Cuba to meet with Joanne Chesimard, who was convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper. Common said, "Damn. This was somebody who fought for my freedom." This is a cop killer. This is a woman who gunned down, along with two other accomplices, a woman who is a member of the Black Liberation Army…


O'REILLY: …who they found 16 live rounds in her purse, and this guy thinks she is great.

STEWART: Thinks she is innocent.

O'REILLY: No. She is great.

STEWART: Well, but, also…

O'REILLY: This was somebody who fought for my freedom. It made me want to do better in life. Come on.

STEWART: I can't speak for him because I'm not him, I don't think.

O'REILLY: Not yet.

STEWART: I can rap. I rapped on the show. I think it was pretty impressive.


STEWART: O'Reilly, oh really. I know that you feel me. I joke to the folks while you choke on that smoke.


STEWART: You are saying that he is celebrating a cop killer or promoting cop killing.

O'REILLY: No, I didn't say he's promoting cop killing.

STEWART: Well, people on your network are.

O'REILLY: Let's just speak to me.

STEWART: All right. I'm talking to you.

O'REILLY: Celebrating, celebrating a cop killer, yes.

STEWART: Here is the only distinction I would make there and I can't speak for him. What I think he is doing is not celebrating but honoring someone he thinks was wrongly convicted of cop killing. I think he believes she was convicted unjustly.

O'REILLY: OK. That's fine and Common wasn't even born when this crime took place, thinks that based on nothing because the evidence is overwhelming.


O'REILLY: He is entitled as an American to do that. The president of the United States, though, takes him into the house, all right, thereby validating him. Come on, that was a bad decision. You know it was a bad decision.

STEWART: You are saying that by having him at the White House, that, in essence, was tacit approval of everything he has ever done to some extent?

O'REILLY: No. It validates him -- all right -- it elevates him…

STEWART: As an individual.

O'REILLY: -- as a poet or whatever. Do you know how many poets would have liked to have been there?

STEWART: Let me ask you something.

O'REILLY: No, let me ask you a question.

STEWART: All right.

O'REILLY: Why was he selected in your opinion? Why did he get that honor in your opinion?

STEWART: Because I think he's not defined as an artist by this Assata Shakur court case.

O'REILLY: This is big.

STEWART: I think he's defined -- well, I think it probably isn't as big in his career as you might think it is. Let me go to a different point, if I may. It sounds like what you are saying is --- and correct me if I am wrong and I don't want to be wrong when I'm with you because you know I got mad love for you -- that's a rap phrase.

O'REILLY: I got it.

STEWART: Correct me if I am wrong. What you are saying is if an artist supports someone that has been convicted of killing a cop, they should not be allowed to go to the White House?

O'REILLY: No, it's a little bit more than that.

STEWART: OK. Say it again.

O'REILLY: I'm saying that when a president invites someone -- in this case the first lady invites someone -- the resume has to be put in front of them and they have to select people who are almost unimpeachable, all right, because they are getting that honor to go to the White House. This guy is controversial all day long with this stuff. Not only did he support this cop killer, or celebrate the cop killer, he celebrated another one in Philadelphia.

STEWART: Again, he is celebrating someone he thinks was unjustly -- he is not celebrating…

O'REILLY: Is this Perry Mason we are talking about now? Is this the most brilliant lawyer of all time?


O'REILLY: This Common.

STEWART: Oh, Common. Let me ask you a question. Are you familiar with Leonard Peltier?


STEWART: Leonard Peltier was convicted of killing two…

O'REILLY: Now we are going to Wounded Knee.

STEWART: It's similar.

O'REILLY: No, it's not.

STEWART: Why is it not?

O'REILLY: Because you are pettifogging the issue.

STEWART: It's the exact same thing. It's a guy convicted of killing a law enforcement official. No? Guess who wrote a song about Leonard Peltier?




STEWART: Guess where he was? The White House. Booyah! That's a rap word.

O'REILLY: All right. Did Bono…


O'REILLY: Did he actually come out and say that he was innocent?

STEWART: I think that's the crux of the song.

O'REILLY: I think it was raising questions about it.

STEWART: Now who is pettifogging? Now I can't even see you. Here you pettifog. No. That is exactly the same. Bob Dylan wrote a song about a convicted killer named Hurricane Carter. He has been to the White House. Why are you drawing the line at Common? There is a selective outrage machine here at Fox that pettifogs only when it suits the narrative that suits them. This guy is in the crosshairs in a way that he shouldn't be, whether you agree with him or not. You may think he is ignorant in believing that Assata Shakur is innocent. You may think he is ignorant in believing that mummy is. But then guess what? Bono can't go to the White House. Springsteen can't go to the White House. Bob Dylan can't go to the White House. You have got a lot of people that aren't allowed to sit in the White House because they have written songs about people convicted of murder.


O'REILLY: Ah, but there is another point to be raised, and in a moment we will continue our debate with Mr. Stewart. And then you can vote on as to who won the shootout.


O'REILLY: Continuing now with the wisdom of inviting the rapper Common to the White House. The Obama administration, of course, did that last week. Now, I tried very hard to make Stewart see it my way.


O'REILLY: OK. So you say that because Bono, Springsteen...

STEWART: No, no...

O'REILLY: ...and Bob Dylan wrote songs defending people who were accused of heinous things...


O'REILLY: ...that I have to give Common a pass...


O'REILLY: ...because he did the same thing?

STEWART: You have to be consistent with your outrage.

O'REILLY: Let me give you...

STEWART: Be consistent.

O'REILLY: I will. Common visited, went to see…

STEWART: So what if Bono went to see Leonard Peltier?

O'REILLY: …in Cuba...

STEWART: So now that's your line? You're putting yourself in a smaller and smaller box.

O'REILLY: No, I'm not. I'm not.

STEWART: So this guy is worthy of it because he actually visited. And by the way, I don't agree with you that that's what puts it over the top. I completely disagree with you.

O'REILLY: This makes it beyond a reasonable doubt.

STEWART: Oh, please.

O'REILLY: Come on. You know this guy is sympathizing with two cop killers.

STEWART: I don't know this...

O'REILLY: You know that.

STEWART: I don't know him. He believes they were unjustly convicted. That's what I imagine this is. He doesn't...

O'REILLY: You just whipped this visit to Cuba. You put it in your little drawer. It never happened.

STEWART: No. It happened.

O'REILLY: OK. That's enough for a sitting president to say, "You know what? This guy might be radioactive. I'm not doing it."

STEWART: G. Gordon Liddy. In the Randy Weaver case, after the ATF stormed that facility, right? When he was talking about the ATF, do you know what he said on his radio show? He said, "If they break down -- if they break down your doors, don't shoot them here, because they're wearing protective gear. Shoot for the head."

O'REILLY: Was that before or after Liddy made the gold commercial? OK, you see, your craziness, you bring this stuff in. OK. I'm making you president of the United States, which is just...

STEWART: Every time I come here you make me president of the United States.

O'REILLY: It's insane. I know. All right. So you're sitting there, and you know on your resume, OK?

STEWART: Uh-huh.

O'REILLY: You already have Reverend Wright. You've got Bill Ayers, OK? And then a guy named Common comes in and...

STEWART: You mean that Fox News has already...

O'REILLY: All these things.

STEWART: ...put these people as they basically connected the dots as though these are the most influential people in my life?

O'REILLY: You have a history of associating with dubious people. You know that. I know it. Everybody knows it. And then you say, "You know what? It's a good idea to bring in a guy who sympathizes with a cop killer." Do you think that's a good decision?

STEWART: Here's what I think. I think Common believes that this woman was unjustly...

O'REILLY: You're the president. Will you make that call?

STEWART: Can I be honest with you?

O'REILLY: Yes, please.

STEWART: If I'm the president...


STEWART: ... and I'm booking my own poetry slams, throw me out of office.

O'REILLY: OK. With pleasure.

STEWART: Because I would believe, as president, I would have things to do...


STEWART: ... rather than go over the list of poetry slammers.

O'REILLY: How about your guys? You already have Wright. You already have Ayers. You already have Bernadette Dohrn. So let's bring in Common.

STEWART: Here's what I think. It's a poetry slam. Who gives a crap?

O'REILLY: A lot. A lot of people do. This is National Police Week.

STEWART: You know what? Let's do something nice for National Police Week. You and I. Let's have us agree to promote a reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons, because that doesn't celebrate killing cops metaphorically or figuratively. It tries to get weapons that kill cops literally off the streets. That's important. This is nothing.

O'REILLY: As you know if you've ever done any research…

STEWART: No. You do support it.

O'REILLY: Correct.

STEWART: I'm saying let's -- and why don't we get the entire apparatus here.

O'REILLY: The apparatus?

STEWART: The infection machine that is...

O'REILLY: You mean the diverse opinions that we have here unlike you -- your network?

STEWART: You have not a diversity of opinion.

O'REILLY: Oh, stop it.

STEWART: You bring in people like Colmes so you can beat him around the head with pillows.

O'REILLY: He has no defense mechanism here? He's kind of like -- Colmes is a smart guy.

STEWART: A very smart guy.

O'REILLY: He actually likes you, which...

STEWART: I like him, as well. He's a very -- can I say this? I like you, as well. It saddens me to see you wasting your time.

O'REILLY: All right, now...

STEWART: And by the way, songs are not literal. You know that, right?

O'REILLY: Oh, stop.

STEWART: When The Weather Girls sing "It's raining men," it's not really a precipitation of males.

O'REILLY: I got it. All right.

STEWART: It's a metaphor.

O'REILLY: Stop attacking The Weather Girls. One of my favorite groups.

STEWART: Are they really?

O'REILLY: I love them. All right. The thing I like about you is you do take cheap shots all the time, but you defend those cheap shots.

STEWART: Let me tell you something. That's not the only thing you like. I'm like a shot of Levittown right in your ass, like a B-12, boom.

O'REILLY: I think I'm going to commit suicide.


O'REILLY: All right. We also taped an interview about the presidential race with Stewart, a separate topic. We're going to have that for you tomorrow. It's very interesting.

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