Blogger Who Challenged CNN Exec Jordan's Comments in Switzerland Talks with Bill

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Feb. 14, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight, an eyewitness to Jordan's comments. Joining us now from Miami is Rony Abovitz , who was at the Jordan event in Switzerland and challenged the CNN executive almost immediately. Mr. Abovitz is the co-founder of the Mayco Surgical Corporation.

Let me set this up for the folks: You're over in Davos. You're getting an award. And they asked you to write Internet articles on whatever you want. You show up at the Eason Jordan (search) event, and you hear Jordan say what?

RONY ABOVITZ, ATTENDED WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM: Well, the discussion was talking broadly first about journalists being killed around the world. And he had described that he had recently been in Iraq and was, you know, even thinking about pulling CNN reporters out of Iraq, because it was getting so dangerous.

And then he went on to say that basically, it wasn't just Iraqi rebels or terrorists who were killing reporters; it was U.S. troops, and they were targeting both American and foreign journalists.

And when I heard this, I was in great shock. I thought this was going to be the biggest story, much bigger than Abu Ghraib (search). I was amazed. And he went on, and he seemed quite convinced and passionate about this.

O'REILLY: But did he actually say -- did he actually say that American troops killed journalists?

ABOVITZ: He was saying the U.S. troops had targeted both American and foreign journalists, and that at least 12 had been killed -- Under that...

O'REILLY: Really?

ABOVITZ: Under that. And that more had been killed overall not targeted by American troops. He talked about -- I don't know if it was 30 or 40 that had been killed overall.

O'REILLY: Yes, I know. I know. But the important thing is here we have an international audience -- here we have an international audience just looking for this kind of stuff, and this...

ABOVITZ: Not just international. I mean, you're talking about Arab journalists, people that want to hear this kind of thing.

And one part of my brain was thinking he's telling the absolute truth, this is shocking. This is horrible. This is really bad for the United States. And the second part of my brain was thinking, my God, is this just feeding this audience what they want to hear?

O'REILLY: So you asked him a question.

ABOVITZ: My challenge to him was tell...

O'REILLY: What did you ask him?

ABOVITZ: I basically asked him, you know, you just made a horrendous charge against the United States, its military, and its troops, and what's the truth? You know, do you have objective data, evidence, anything to back up what you just said in front of an audience, which and I said it there. -- This is not a very friendly audience right here. This is a lot of people who have a bone to pick with America. And is what you said true?

Because I mean, I was hoping that he'd have a response, which was, "Yes, I'm the head of CNN. I've got all this data. I've got these -- this team that is going to put this giant report out."

But what we got was sort of waffling and backing down and evasiveness. And -- I just left that discussion confused about what was really going on.

O'REILLY: Did he -- did he -- All right. But he didn't say, "No, I don't have any backup for it, and maybe I misspoke"? Or he didn't apologize or anything like that?

ABOVITZ: He started to say first he did believe it, then he didn't believe it. Then someone else told him and he didn't think it was true. But then other people in the audience started talking about this, as if, like, you know, keep going with what you originally said. Then he started going back and forth... And you really didn't know what to think anymore. It really looked like he got caught...

O'REILLY: All right. So he didn't correct himself on the record by saying, you know, that comment wasn't accurate. He didn't correct himself right away?

ABOVITZ: I don't think it was correct. And I think people there didn't think it was corrected.

O'REILLY: All right.

ABOVITZ: And there's a tape of the whole thing.

O'REILLY: Now you had Barney Frank, the liberal congressman from Massachusetts, who was on the panel, too, correct?

ABOVITZ: Yes. He's sitting right there, watching this.

O'REILLY: And what did Frank say to Jordan?

ABOVITZ: Well, I believe David Gergen, who was the moderator, brought Frank in and said, look, you're representing the United States government here. What do you have to say?

And Frank just looked aghast, like, "Oh, my God, I can't believe what the guy said." And he said that his briefings from the Pentagon basically were that it was all collateral damage, and he had never heard about this.

But let's give Frank credit. He did offer to investigate. He said, you know, "Eason, if you can give me any real data, I'll go lead a congressional investigation into this."

O'REILLY: What did Dodd, senator from -- Democratic senator from Connecticut, what did he say? He said something to you, Dodd, right?

ABOVITZ: He came over to me after the session, and he shook my hand. And he said, "Thanks for standing up and for basically, you know, defending the United States in this case, because the guy made outrageous claims. And you know, you're the only one who took him on right there. And you took him on hard."

O'REILLY: All right. So both Frank and Dodd were skeptical of Jordan. That's good to hear.

Now you put your article, then, out on the Net, and all hell broke loose, right?

ABOVITZ: Yeah, I came home, and that night I posted it. I was just invited to write whatever I felt like. I was an attendee. I'm not a journalist. I'm not right or left wing. I just wrote what I saw, what I thought.

And the thing just blew up all over the Web. And it's been just incredible the power of the blog here...

O'REILLY: You bet.

ABOVITZ: ... on how it's really shaped the media.

O'REILLY: Well, listen, sometimes it takes guys like you, Mr. Abovitz, to, you know, pin down. You can't be saying, running around, if you're the president of CNN or any other news organization, that American troops are killing journalists. Because you know that's going to be used for propaganda against us. We already have enough problems from throughout the rest of the world.

So nice job. We appreciate it. And thank you for appearing tonight.

Our brand-new poll asks you this question: "Do you perceive CNN as having a left-wing bias?" Brand-new poll. And we would like you to go there and vote.

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