Growing Anger Over Military Analyst William Arkin

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 9, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Factor follow up" segment tonight, anger aimed at NBC News and The Washington Post over analyst William Arkin. As we reported, he called U.S. forces 'mercenaries', and implied they were lucky they weren't spit upon.

That has angered our troops in the field and some in the Defense Department because NBC's parent company General Electric does more than $2 billion dollars a year in business with the Department of Defense.

Joining us now from Austin, Texas, Senator John Cornyn. And from Orlando, Florida, Lieutenant General Thomas Mcinerney, a FOX News military analyst.

Now gentlemen, we'll begin with you, because I'm getting a lot of mail from our forces in the field. And everybody knows about this because FOX News is on everywhere. What are you hearing? Are they angry or do they just think this is not even worth thinking about?

LT. GEN. THOMAS MCINERNEY, U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.): No, Bill, they're very angry. I talked to Rear Admiral Fox today at 2:00 on the helicopter issues. I just read, from the time I'd left the hotel to come over to the studio, an e-mail, a lengthy one from Sergeant Eddie Jeffers, which was brilliant. He wondered what the soft politicians were doing. "They send us to war, and then they don't support us." There is great anger.

And because I think they understand the difference between freedom of the press and aiding and abetting the enemy. Arkin has crossed the line to aid and abet the enemy, as well as NBC and The Washington Post by supporting these kind of articles.

O'REILLY: All right. So it would be fair to say from your research and from my e-mails, but that's anecdotal, that the troops in the field don't like the comments. --They understand they're under the banner of the freedom of speech. But wonder why news organizations like The Washington Post and NBC News haven't distanced themselves from this man, because they have not.

As you know, NBC News refuses to issue any statement. And The Washington Post, the same thing. They will not distance themselves from this man, which is to me unbelievable. That's the summation? That's accurate?

MCINERNEY: That's very accurate. And in addition to probably the numerous numbers of general officers and captains and sergeants and colonels I've seen down here at the Air Force Association that are expressing the same anger.

O'REILLY: All right, now Senator, General Electric has condemned the comments. We've got another segment from them today. And they are angry.

Now we asked [Jeffery] Immelt, the CEO of General Electric. We asked him, well, if you're angry about it, and you've issued the statements that say it, why are you not ordering your subsidiary, NBC News, to distance itself from Arkin? And his reply was, well, we don't tell them what to do. Is that acceptable?

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: Well, I think stonewalling this is not acceptable. This is really reprehensible conduct on Mr. Arkin's part. And unfortunately, it's not the first time.

In 2003, he referred to one of our generals as a "Christian jihadist." And then in 2005, he published a primer on code names for covert military activities by the United States government. --This is not the first time he has strayed across the line.

O'REILLY: Now is this a topic of conversation on the Hill, senator?

CORNYN: Well it is. -- And thanks to you for helping to keep this thing alive. I think The Washington Post and Mr. Arkin are just hoping it'll blow over.

O'REILLY: Yes, well, sure. The left wing media mentioned it one time. And they are. They're doing the rope a dope, hoping it blows over.

But I'm wondering whether, you know, there's enough anger to go to General Electric and say listen, $2.2 billion in 2005 is what you guys billed the DOD. And you've got a responsibility here. Do you think it will rise to that level?

CORNYN: Well, you know, I'm glad that they have issued a statement. But I would like to hear a statement from The Washington Post, from the editors, who are responsible for editing Mr. Arkin's written columns and commentaries and some acknowledgement that they have a responsibility.

We appreciate freedom of the press. But with that free comes responsibility as well. And they're demonstrating no sense of responsibility now.

O'REILLY: Personally, general, are you angry about this? Because we had two other generals on earlier in the week. And they were kind of philosophical about it. They weren't happy, but they weren't like jumping off the chart here.

MCINERNEY: Well, look, I think Dennis Miller who articulates things very well, Bill, called him a "low life." I would only add to Dennis Miller that he's a low life scum bag.

The American people ought to be outraged about this. Every one of those troops overseas in the States are fighting for this nation. And we do not need low life scum bags like this aiding and abetting the enemy.

This is a fight of wills. And when you deliberately go out and try to undermine the will of the American people by putting out lies and falsehoods, then you are aiding and abetting the enemy.

O'REILLY: All right.

MCINERNEY: We ought to be outraged.

And by the way, I didn't fight my Air Force career for people to aid and abet the enemy. I fought for freedom of speech -- but responsible speech.

O'REILLY: All right, general.

Thank you very much, gentlemen. We appreciate it. And we'll obviously stay on this story.

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