Do Americans care about the fiscal cliff?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 02, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly. In the "Weekdays With Bernie" segment tonight, let's go right to Miami, Florida with the purveyor of who's standing by.

So, Bernie, correct me if I'm wrong -- and I know you love to do that, I don't think most Americans have any idea what this fiscal business is all about.

BERNIE GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Let me answer that by reading just two sentences from your "Talking Points" this evening, two sentences.

"It's now clear that Mr. Obama does not care about the spending problems the U.S.A. has.

"You simply do not run up deficits of more than a trillion dollars a year if you care about fiscal responsibility."

Bingo. You think most Americans understand that? I don't think they do.

But in fairness to the American people and their cluelessness on this particular subject, President Obama portrayed this as a taxing issue and not a spending crisis. And the stenographers in the so-called mainstream media went along with that story line.

Well, I don't think -- as a result of that, I don't think that most Americans understand that these new taxes on the rich and on other people, as you rightly mentioned earlier, I don't think the American people understand that this won't begin to put a dent in Mr. Obama's trillion- dollar-a-year deficit.

So, the longer term, 16 trillion-dollar-and-climbing national debt. And, finally, I don't think the American people have a clue as to how bad things are going to get if we don't get spending under control and pretty fast.

O'REILLY: You know what, that's all speculation though. See, it's not like a natural disaster or the murder at Newtown, or anything where people emotionally can react to what's in front of them.

Even when they see people in Greece, in the streets, rioting, and the cops shooting tear gas at them, "It's far away. It's not going to happen here." That kind of thing.

But the worst part about it, and I might be at fault here because I didn't cover this fiscal stuff very much in the run-up. And the reason I didn't is when I said I knew it was a phony deal, that Obama wanted the crisis so he could demonize wealthy people even more.

He didn't want to solve it, that Boehner and the republicans thought they would defeat Obama in November. They didn't really want to solve it. They wanted it out there.

Nobody really wanted to do what was good for the folks and get a concrete deal of, "All right, you want a little bit more revenue? Fine. Goldberg and O'Reilly will kick it to you, all right."

But you're going to have to cut one-to-one, as the Obama Commission suggested. And, you know, that would have been the way to do it.

They could have done it last August. If they're all honest, they still could do it. But they're not honest. That's what really -- but if I'm out there like a straw man with my arms waving to people who just don't want to lock in on it, it's a hopeless cause.

GOLDBERG: That's right. I mean, it's -- the media has a responsibility but so do the American people have a responsibility. This story was portrayed the way the President wanted it portrayed.

There's a -- you know, there's a tendency in the media to portray stories the way the President wants them portrayed.

O'REILLY: Is that every president or just this president.

GOLDBERG: No, it's this -- it wasn't that way with President Bush. Listen, Mark --

O'REILLY: In the beginning after 9/11, it was. But then, it veered off into a hostile Bush atmosphere when Iraq didn't go well.

GOLDBERG: Right. And this -- look, by the way, I didn't make that observation about how the press tends to cover stories the way the President wants them to.

Mark Halperin of "Time" magazine, as mainstream a journalist as you can get, he's the one who first made that observation. Look, this story was portrayed as the president looking out for 98 percent of the American people.

And he wins the PR battle when that's the case. And even though polls show that most Americans think we're spending too much, and polls do show that on a regular basis, I don't think the American people really understand how bad things are going to get.

And that's -- to answer your question, that's where the press comes in. There needs to be, not just an occasional story here or there, but there needs to be stories about what happens when interest rates go up from near zero percent to a more typical five, six or seven percent.

We're getting away with paying the $16 trillion at a near-zero rate. We can't pay it at a seven percent rate. We will go broke when that happens.

O'REILLY: All right, but you know that Krugman and "The New York Times" --

GOLDBERG: -- there won't be any money for anything other than the debt and entitlements.

O'REILLY: Yes, they don't believe it's going to happen. And they're never going to cop to it. Now, essentially, you have a story that's boring, all right.

The fiscal story is dull. There's no emotion, as I said, floating around. I mean, if you have the chance to watch "Entertainment Tonight" and there's -- they're down in Cabo and this and that, or O'Reilly and Goldberg talking about 16 trillion-dollar --


Where are you going to go. I mean, you know --

GOLDBERG: Yes, it's a -- OK.

O'REILLY: So, that's why the television media and mass kind of stays away from this story in the sense that, "Yes, we could bring in this pinhead economists so they could tell you all day long that our currency may evaporate in five years. But people are just not going to believe it until it happens.

GOLDBERG: Well, that's true. But the role of the press is not to entertain the masses.

O'REILLY: You have to these days. On ratings on television, you have to. You have to.

GOLDBERG: Well, OK, fine, fine. Then if newspapers say, "All we care about is circulation," and television says, "All we care about is ratings," then fine.

Put on the car chases and all that other crap. And then, and then, when we slide into a depression that makes the first one look like a picnic, then the people will have every right to say to the media, "Why didn't you warn us about this?"

But, as I say, the people say we're spending too much. But they -- just like they don't care if your taxes go up. They don't want their taxes to go up.

They don't care if the government cuts your programs. They don't want it to cut my programs.

O'REILLY: Well, all -- everybody's taxes just went up. Everybody is going to be paying more to the feds starting yesterday.


O'REILLY: Bernie Goldberg, everybody.

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