Is the Minority Media Majorly Biased?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 11, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: There's no question the media will be a factor in the upcoming election. And the media favors Kerry by a wide margin, according to a Pew (search) research study, among others. Last weekend, a convention of minority journalists was held in D.C. and both President Bush and Senator Kerry showed up to speak there.

Joining us now from Atlanta is Condace Pressley, the treasurer of the Unity Organization (search), which sponsored the conference, and from Washington, Gregory Clay, who works for the Knight Ridder News Service. Both Mr. Presley and Mr. Clay watched both speeches from Bush and Kerry. Mr. Clay, you had some problems with the way the crowd behaved. Why don't you tell us about them?

GREGORY CLAY, KNIGHT RIDDER EDITOR: Yes, Mr. O'Reilly, I had some major problems with the John Kerry (search) speech, particularly. The Kerry speech was more of a pep rally mentality — tremendous applause, whistling, whooping, hollering, et cetera. And George Bush received basically somewhat polite applause and the disparity was very marked. And I think George Bush, the applause he received was more so out of respect for the presidency.

O'REILLY: All right, so from the jump, you believe the crowd was predisposed to like Kerry, is that correct?

CLAY: Oh, no doubt. Oh, no doubt. There is no question, no doubt. I mean, if you didn't know better, you would have thought that the Kerry speech at the convention center here in Washington was a Democratic Convention without the confetti and the goofy hats and the balloons.

O'REILLY: Well, let Ms. Pressley, jump in here. Go ahead.

CONDACE PRESSLEY, UNITY TREASURER: What Mr. Clay has failed to acknowledge for the audience is that there were two very different speeches by Senator Kerry and by President Bush. Senator Kerry's speech was tailored specifically for the Unity Conference. He was speaking to a group of journalists of color, many of whom were not on the clock, who were not working that day and he spoke to issues that were relevant to us as individuals who happen to work in the media.

His speech was not about coverage of him, coverage of his campaign, or coverage of the race for the White House, but about what he would do if he were elected president of the United States. He spoke specifically about making appointments to the Federal Communications Commission. He spoke specifically about what he would do to try and encourage diversity in his cabinet and greater diversity in the news management offices.

O'REILLY: All right, and what did Bush do?

PRESSLEY: And the president, who did receive, and I counted — he was interrupted by applause 17 times. And, in fact, when there was a heckler, who was not a member of any of the journalism organizations, rose up and interrupted the president, the crowd shushed the heckler so that that person would leave and then wanted to continue to listen to the president.

The president delivered more or less of his basic stump speech. As I was sitting there listening — and I was there for both speeches, Bill — there were applause lines in the president's speech before any other group would have received applause, but before our group did not.

O'REILLY: But Ms. Pressley, surely you don't think that the crowd was equally disposed to like them both the same. You know, you know that's not true.

PRESSLEY: I can't speak to the intentions or what, as voters, what disposition exists for either. But I will say again, the Kerry speech was written to speak to a group of voters...

O'REILLY: I got it, I got it. Right, OK.

CLAY: But that's not the issue, though.


CLAY: The issue is not what kind of speech you gave. It's not about that. This is a gathering of professional media people, OK. This is not a cheerleading section.

PRESSLEY: Right, it was a gathering of professional media people...

CLAY: Right, so you shouldn't go...

PRESSLEY: ... it was a conference many of those people...

CLAY: ... to hear a presidential candidate and cheer him as if you are at a football game.

PRESSLEY: Well, I strongly disagree that there was cheering, Greg.

CLAY: It had the feeling of being at a football game, you know.

O'REILLY: All right, well, look...

PRESSLEY: One person and one opinion...

O'REILLY: ... we weren't there, so we don't know.

CLAY: I mean, the issue's about professionalism, OK. That's the issue here.

PRESSLEY: No, no, no, here's the question, here's the question...

O'REILLY: Let Ms. Pressley have the last word.

CLAY: No, no, no, no, it's not about who's covering Kerry and who's not covering Kerry.

PRESSLEY: It's not about that. The fact is, we were conference attendees and these were newsmakers who came to discuss issues with us. The question is, when are journalists on the clock, when are journalists off the clock...

O'REILLY: Right, I got it, I got it...

PRESSLEY: ... and I submit that the majority of folks there were not on the clock for this conference.

O'REILLY: OK, and we'll let the audience decide and we appreciate both of you putting forth your point of view. Thank you very much.

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