Bill O'Reilly Reacts to Imus Firing

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 12, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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MICHELLE MALKIN, GUEST HOST: I'm Michelle Malkin, reporting tonight for Bill O'Reilly, who we will be talking with in just a moment about the latest developments in the Don Imus case.

Thanks for watching us.

Our top story tonight: Late today, CBS Radio fired Don Imus just a day after MSNBC pulled the plug on him.

On what would be his last radio broadcast this morning, Imus reacted to the controversy surrounding him. Following an offensive comment he made about the Rutgers women's basketball team, Imus said this on his radio show:


DON IMUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You know, I said a stupid, idiotic thing that — that — that desperately hurt these kids. I am going to apologize to them. And then we will move on.

But stop complaining about it. These bastards, they — they went after me. They got me.


MALKIN: Again, that was his final show, as CBS fired him this afternoon.

Joining is now on the phone from Ireland with reaction, your humble correspondent Bill O'Reilly.

Hey, Bill, what are you doing all the way over there?

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Michelle, I got a big award from Trinity College here in Dublin. The philosophical society that was started in 1675 honored me tonight. And it was just great to get it.

But, obviously, I have been following the story with Imus. And you have been writing about it. I have been writing about it.

I think the bottom line on this, Michelle, is when the Rutgers college basketball coach gave the press conference and got it across to every American how painful the remarks were to her and her student athletes, that was the tipping point.

Then NBC and CBS could no longer justify just a suspension. So, technically, that's what happened. The woman was so eloquent, the Rutgers basketball coach was so eloquent in defining how painful it was. And the remark itself was so egregious, in the sense that it had no context, and it basically reflected a guy who, as everybody has reported, has been really make lot of money doing this kind of stuff for a long period of time.

So, that's why it happened. And that's why CBS followed NBC.

MALKIN: A lot of people think that this is a pile-on now. Do you get the sense that people are sort of fed up with all of the constant apologizing? Is there going to be a backlash against the backlash?

O'REILLY: No, I think it's over. I think, tonight, it's over, certainly over for me, as far as Don Imus is concerned. I think there's a karma thing in play here. I think, over the years, Don Imus has hurt a lot of people. And this is the end for him.

It will be interesting to see if NBC now will stop the hate that they have been peddling in on their cable networks for two years.

MALKIN: Well, that is the big question. It may be over for Imus, but is it over for GE and NBC and CBS and Viacom?

O'REILLY: Well, CBS/Viacom doesn't have a lot of exposure in this arena right now, although they do have some rap music stuff, which is another component of this. That's what's next.

The gangster rappers who use this language all the time, they're going get it next. But NBC's got a lot of problems. Their CEO, Jeff Zucker, has consciously moved his cable networks into assassinating the characters of people that they don't like for ratings. The Brian Williams [edition of The Nightly] News has lost a lot of viewership, as has "The Today Show."

So, NBC's got an enormous problem. And, if they continue the hatred that they have been spewing out for the last couple of years, I think that General Electric will move in and wipe them out.

MALKIN: But, Bill, another question is, why did it take so long? Because this was just one in the latest of many, many, many, offensive comments that Don Imus had spewed on the airwaves at MSNBC and on CBS Radio for the last 30 years.

And — and, you know, this coach at Rutgers made a good point about how personally they took it. But what about all the other victims and targets of Imus, who certainly must have taken as personally the kind of insults that were ethnic, that were anti-female, that were just completely as reckless and rude and crude as this one that actually finally led to his downfall?

O'REILLY: A long, but excellent question, Michelle, which is why we have you subbing for me on "The O'Reilly Factor."


O'REILLY: The answer to that question is that there is an industry of shock jocks in America that both NBC and CBS embraced, and they made a lot of money doing it, OK? So, that — America has responded to that. And there is a segment of our population that wants hate. And you can make money. So, that's where you start.

Why did it take so long? Because they were making a lot of money, and because these shock jocks were going up to a certain point, and were pulling back. When they went over, to inflict damage on college basketball girls, then critical mass had been reached.

And we have seen this throughout a lot of people's careers, that they get into a situation where it's too much.

But there is a freedom of speech component here, Michelle. And, you know, that —- in America, we are a land and a people that embrace controversial speech. We don't like censorship at all. And that's what held him up so long. But, once that basketball coach got out there and explained in vivid detail how painful this was, it was over for Mr. Imus.

MALKIN: Well, I guess the rehabilitation of Don Imus will begin. But, I mean, how optimistic are you that the rehabilitation of all of the other hate-mongers and hate-tolerators is going to take place?

O'REILLY: Another excellent question.

I don't care whether their rehabilitation takes place at all. What I'm going to do is, I'm going to spotlight them now. And I think other people will, too, that, when they get back into this groove of hate, we're going to lay it out there, that we're going to layout there the gangster rappers, who they work for, who is paying them.

I wouldn't want to be Snoopy Dogg right now.


O'REILLY: And I wouldn't want to be Ludacris or 50 Cent, because every move they make is going to be on "“The Factor”."

MALKIN: Well, thanks, Bill. They will be waiting for you to return.

And congrats on your award.

O'REILLY: And we will back on Monday, Michelle. Thanks for filling in for me.

MALKIN: Take care, Bill.

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