Karl Rove Hits Back at Critics of His New Book

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 15, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Fox News analyst Karl Rove's on the road in Texas promoting his new book "Courage and Consequence."

OK, so you've been on, what, 80,000 shows. And "The Factor" is No. 1, you know, so I want to do something a little bit different here with your book. I want to read you two criticisms and then play you a third, and you can respond.

Joe Klein, TIME magazine, liberal guy, you know Joe, says: "There is much news in Karl Rove's memoir, 'Courage and Consequence,' which is something of a moral triumph for the author. A significant amount of dirt is dished here, an astonishing amount actually. This is the work of Titanic pettiness."

Forgive me for laughing, but you…

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KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Enough said about Joe Klein. We have now both — you laughed and I giggled.


ROVE: So enough said about Joe Klein. Actually, it was a much more positive review than I thought it would be coming from Joe Klein, whom I've crossed swords with and who really doesn't think much of me. And I frankly used to admire him a lot more than I do today.

O'REILLY: OK, but what — you know, you — this is what I don't get from Klein. You and President Bush got pounded unmercifully in the media. So you write a book and basically say here's my side of the story. This is what I think.

ROVE: Yes.

O'REILLY: This is what happened. But when you defend yourself and the president…

ROVE: Yes.

O'REILLY: …you're petty. When you go after guys like Klein and your other critics…

ROVE: Exactly.

O'REILLY: …you're petty.

ROVE: Yes.

O'REILLY: So they can do it, but you can't.

ROVE: But let me give you an example. Yes, let me give you an example. There are a lot of liberals, including his boss, Rick Stengel at TIME magazine, who accused Bush of saying "Go shopping" after 9/11 and condemned him for it. The only problem was Bush never said "Go shopping." It was actually said by a colleague of Joe Klein's, a writer at TIME named Pellegrino, who wrote that Bush said go shopping in a laudatory article about the president's speech to the Congress following 9/11. So I try and set the record straight, and you're right: The thinnest-skinned people in our political world are political journalists. And Joe Klein just demonstrated that in his snarky little comment.

O'REILLY: All right. Now I'm going to read another snarky comment. And it's little too, from Dana Milbank, who's a very far-left guy, The Washington Post. But before I read you the column — the comment I should say, why do they hate you so much? I mean, I know why they hate me. But why does the left hate you so much? What do you think?

ROVE: You know what? I — first of all, I'm not certain they do. It's just…

O'REILLY: Yes, Mr. Rove, let me break this to you.

ROVE: …anybody on the right has to be vilified. So it's not personal.

O'REILLY: Mr. Rove…

ROVE: It's not personal.

O'REILLY: Yes, it is. Let me break it to you. They hate you, all right. The far left…

ROVE: And I don't care.

O'REILLY: …they hate you. No, I know you don't care, but they do. But why? Why do you think?

ROVE: You know what? I don't spend any time thinking about it. I'm not going to change their opinion, and they're not representative of the country as a whole. And, you know, look, when they say things like Joe Klein said or like Dana Milbank said or even, you know, a seemingly pleasant guy like, you know, like Tom Hanks who is a pretty conventional Hollywood liberal, I get it. That's the way — that's what, that passes for, you know, you got to say those kind of things in order to be a member of that club. I get that. And you know, frankly, it doesn't affect me and I don't care about it. It says more about them than it does about me.

O'REILLY: OK, Milbank says: "What Rove divulges nearly made me choke on a pretzel. The White House…

ROVE: You know what I noticed about his comment?

O'REILLY: Go ahead.

ROVE: There was not a single specific that he cited.

O'REILLY: No, no, here's one. Here's one.

ROVE: And we all know Dana Milbank dismisses the whole thing.

O'REILLY: No, here's one. That business about President Bush misleading the nation about Iraq didn't happen. Did Bush lie us into war? Absolutely not. So Milbank is basically saying…

ROVE: Yes, and there — and look at that.


ROVE: So dismissive about it. And yet, I devote an entire chapter to it in which I quote Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, Bob Graham, Jay Rockefeller and a vast number of other Democrats who said the same thing that Bush said, that namely that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

O'REILLY: But what you don't understand…

ROVE: If Bush lied, then to be honest, every one of these liberals who said it as well has to be castigated in the same.

O'REILLY: But here's what you don't understand.

ROVE: I'm confident that Dana Milbank would never say that Ted Kennedy lied to the American people when he said Saddam had WMD, or that John Kerry lied, or Hillary Clinton or Al Gore or Bill Clinton or Bob Graham or Jay Rockefeller or Jane Harmon, or a whole — Barbara Boxer with 67 Democrats stood up on the floor of the Senate or House and said…

O'REILLY: And you know each one of them.

ROVE: …Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. They weren't lying to America.

O'REILLY: All right. All right, but here's what you don't understand. Dana Milbank knows. Everybody else doesn't know, but he knows.

OK, now Tom Hanks. Roll the tape.



TOM HANKS, ACTOR: I can't wait to buy Karl Rove's book when it's discounted in the discount bin. He has the right to write a book, you know. It'll be interesting to a degree. I'm sure he's going to just blow the lid off of everything and tell the complete truth.


O'REILLY: All right. So, you know, it's nice of Mr. Hanks to give you props that you have a right to write a book. You know, it's great that he…

ROVE: I'm grateful. I'm grateful that he gave me this privilege. Look, I didn't write this book with the expectation that it would be picked up by, you know, Tom Hanks and Danny Glover and Sean Penn and Barbra Streisand as part of their book club reading. I just, you know, look, these are — look, he's a wonderful actor. He's a superb director. He's a good storyteller. But he is, look, he is a conventional Hollywood liberal. He is impervious to rational discussion. This is the kind of book. He has no intellectual curiosity. He receives his opinions in whatever they drink or smoke or eat out there in Southern California in the acting community. And he's stuck. And I get that.

You know what though? I don't want the boy — because I know he's hard up for cash — to wait until it's discounted. I'm thinking about actually sending him a free copy if he would actually read it. But you know what? I don't think he's got any interest really in reading it because…

O'REILLY: I don't think you should do him any — I think Hank's next miniseries should be "Courage and Consequence." And who would play Rove? Who do you think, ladies and gentlemen? E-mail me on who you want to play Karl Rove and we'll read those e-mails tomorrow. Mr. Rove…

ROVE: Red Buttons is…

O'REILLY: What was that?

ROVE: Red Buttons isn't available. He has now passed. Red Buttons has passed. He's not available to play me.

O'REILLY: Red Buttons. No, he's still down in the "Villages." All right, the book is "Courage and Consequence." Thanks, Mr. Rove. Good luck with it.

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