Cracking Down on The New York Times?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 27, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Tonight, the National Review magazine has made the call and is calling for the Bush administration to revoke the press credentials of The New York Times. With us now, the editor of that publication, Rich Lowry.

You know, look, if you do that, if you revoke their credentials or you cuff them around in the hallway or lock them in the bathroom, you then create sympathy for them. You see what I'm talking about? Because then the media says, "Oh, look at the bad Bush administration — they can't take criticism," and all of that. Wouldn't it be far better for the president to get serious about the leaks and then use The New York Times to expose who they are?

RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Bill, I think you have to do both, and they're not mutually exclusive. There should be something tangible and real and immediate that effects The New York Times.

And the problem I have from what we're seeing from the administration and Tony Snow — they say this did great harm, they say it's disgraceful, then Tony Snow is asked today, "Are you going to treat The New York Times any differently?"


Well, if they really harmed national security, let's see some consequence to it.

O'REILLY: All right. And that's a legitimate question. And we're going to talk to Mr. Snow on "The Factor" tomorrow night. And that'll be my first question, just that you pose. I'll ask him, "If they're hurting us so bad, if they're hurting the War in Terror, putting our lives in danger, why aren't you after them?"

But I know the answer to it, you know, because the Bush administration, they've never been a confrontational crew ever, and they don't want to fight. They feel the fight isn't worth...

LOWRY: You seem to be right about that, unfortunately.

O'REILLY: But the leakers — now, they've got to go after the leakers. Because if Valerie Plame can get Scooter Libby — now here, you've got a chance to go after these guys through the back door.

LOWRY: Legally, I think there should be two steps. One, revoke their credentials, two, go after the leakers. And in the course of going after the leakers, you subpoena the reporters who reported the story and ask them who their sources are. And that's, Bill, when we'll see this double standard, which you've exposed and talked about so much brought to the fore.

The New York Times does believe in secrets. Its own secrets. It believes in keeping its own sources secret when it's convenient for itself. The secrets of the U.S. government apparently don't matter.

O'REILLY: All of them would have to protect, but you couldn't just go after The New York Times. You'd have to go through the L.A. Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post. You'd have to go after all of them.

LOWRY: Do them all. But, Bill, I think if the Bush administration really means it, if they mean what they say — the president of the United States said The New York Times did great harm to our nation — something has to happen. And Alberto Gonzales can open an investigation on his own tomorrow. Let's see that happen.

O'REILLY: What good would it do for the Bush administration to kick The New York Times out of the press briefings and revoke their credentials?

LOWRY: Well, there's consequence to harming the nation. You know, you can say on the one hand, "Oh, you just harmed the nation. Oh, but come into our press briefing; we'll joke around and chum around with you as if nothing happened."

O'REILLY: But you know as well as I do, some people say it didn't harm the nation. The Bush administration — that's what my point is. They believe that they're protecting you and me. "The New York Times" believes they're protecting our rights because the Bush administration is a bunch of neo-fascists overrunning the Constitution, overreaching, and using the War on Terror to do it. You know that's the core belief on the part of the far left.

LOWRY: Right. But the Bush administration believes — at least are leading us to believe — that this harmed national security. So if you actually believe that, and you say it, do something about it.

O'REILLY: Do you believe it?

LOWRY: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: You do?

LOWRY: Absolutely. The government has a right to certain secrets. There are certain programs out there that are helping track down these terrorist. And there's no reason to expose them. The only person who's helped by the story are potential terrorists.

O'REILLY: Is this the same thing about the NSA tapping calls abroad to suspected Al Qaeda locations?

LOWRY: I would say it's the same, but the case for publishing the story, I think, was weaker. The NSA, at least it's of dubious legality. I don't think anyone seriously doubts that this banking tracks...


LOWRY: The New York Times probably talked to every financial legal expert in the country, and the most they could come up with was a gray area cited in that story.

O'REILLY: Last question for you. I'm going to ask you to make a prediction, all right? Now, I'm going to put the question to Tony Snow tomorrow night. "If it's so bad, Rich Lowry and a lot of other people want to know, what are you going to do about it?"

I don't know what he's going to say, but Tony is an honest guy. He's going to tell us what the story is; he's not going to weave. You make a prediction. What's the Bush administration going to do vis-a-vis about The New York Times?

LOWRY: I fear it's not going to do anything. I fear, even if there is a leak investigation, it'll peter out into nothing, it'll drag on, you know, for months and months and months until it's forgotten. They should revoke their credentials because they do not deserve that privilege. It's a privilege. They don't deserve it anymore.

And there should be an investigation beginning tomorrow of the leakers that ultimately goes to these reporters and asks them for their sources who broke the law to expose...

O'REILLY: And you can go to the editor, too, because Keller surely knows who the sources are in this one.

LOWRY: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: He has to know because he was in negotiations himself with Treasury Secretary Snow in the office. So he's got to know that his information's solid in that. So you could throw Keller in jail. And you'd like to see that, wouldn't you, Rich? Come on, Rich! You want to see him in jail.

LOWRY: I don't like to see anyone in jail. I'd like to see them reveal their sources. I'd like to see the leakers in jail.

O'REILLY: All right. Rich Lowry.

And here are the results of our poll question. Do you believe the anti-war media has intimidated the Bush administration? About 30,000 of you voted, 69 percent say yes — wow — and 31 percent believe the opposite.

Now, the new poll question is this. Who is the real villain in the terror-money story? The New York Times, the people who leaked it, no villains at all? You select one. poll.

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