Michelle Obama Under Fire for Controversial Comments About America

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 19, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight, reaction to [Michelle Obama's controversial comments]. Joining us from Philadelphia, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, who teaches at Temple University, and from South Florida, Angela McGlowan, a FOX News analyst.

Angela, what say you?

ANGELA MCGLOWAN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: The statement, Bill, was reckless, especially for someone who is vying for the job to be first lady of a nation that she's just now becoming proud of.

The statement also represents the polarizing liberal rhetoric of today that's dividing our nation and that has been the catalyst that has caused hopelessness and despair in my community, the black community.

And you know, people are saying that she misspoke. You just said the right thing. She said it not once, but twice. It's code word, saying in essence that America isn't fair. And people in the black community today do feel hopelessness and some despair. And Obama's message is of hope and change and the American dream, but that message that she gave didn't say that.

O'REILLY: OK, but the explanation from the Obama campaign is that she was talking about politics, not her country in general. Are you buying that, Angela?

MCGLOWAN: I'm not buying that, Bill, because, listen: Princeton grad, Harvard grad; she's a very articulate lady. She knew exactly what she was saying. It's very polarizing.

O'REILLY: But why would she say it then? Why would she go out and run down her country when she's trying to get her husband elected president of said country? It doesn't really make sense that she'd want to do that.

MCGLOWAN: Hey, listen, Bill. John Edwards has said that there are "two Americas." And certain people in certain communities do believe that America is not fair. And here you have a black America.

O'REILLY: So you believe — let me get this on the record — you believe that Michelle Obama has never been proud of her country until her husband decided to run for president? You believe that?

MCGLOWAN: No, I'm not saying that she's never been proud of her country. I don't know her. But I'm saying in essence what she said was reckless, Bill. And you have folks out there that are victim-hood vendors like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. And I was proud of Obama and Michelle for making intelligent statements, but that is not an intelligent statement.

O'REILLY: What say you, doctor?

DR. MARC LAMONT HILL, TEMPLE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: I think that we're over-interpreting her statement. This really represents this type of political pettiness the Obama campaign prides itself on getting above.

I mean, they're in the middle of the most hotly contested political primary that we've had perhaps in the nation's history. Surely, even if Michelle Obama thought that, she wouldn't make such a divisive claim in the middle of election season. Clearly, she was making a claim about America's political participation.

She was born in 1964. She became an adult in the middle of the Reagan administration. For her, this is the first time that the American people have come together and organized around change. That's the message.

O'REILLY: OK, OK. But if that's the case, doctor, if you're buying that, then why didn't Michelle Obama go out today, hold a press conference, clarify her remarks, and say exactly what you said?

Instead, she put her hired guns out there, gave it a 24-hour news cycle. Every program's covering it. I can't read her mind. I don't know whether she has an ax to grind against this country. I don't know if she thinks it's a fair country. I don't know anything. But I think it's on her and her husband to clarify the remark. Am I wrong?

HILL: I don't disagree with that. And I think at some point, Barack or Michelle may step out and say something. But I think — particularly in light of the political opportunism that the Clintons have engaged in over the years, so Hillary has already taken this up — but I think her idea was to get away from this because she didn't have any bad intentions. I think she didn't want to draw more attention to it, which is exactly it's a miscalculation.

O'REILLY: Come on, doctor.

HILL: No, Bill.

O'REILLY: It's 24/7 now. It's Internet, it's talk radio. I mean, I get two hours on this on talk radio. The lines blew out. All right? This is...

HILL: But Bill, you would have done that anyway.

O'REILLY: Hold on. Hold on.

HILL: You would have been suspicious.

O'REILLY: No, I wouldn't have. I mean, if I didn't think the topic was important, I wouldn't have. But there is a suspicion, rightly on wrongly, there is a suspicion that the Obamas, both of them, don't know what they're doing, doctor.

HILL: No, I think the issue here is — and the same thing happened yesterday with this so-called plagiarism thing…

O'REILLY: That was small potatoes.

HILL: They make a brief statement on it and then they move on. They don't dwell on it. They do the same thing that many politicians do. They make a brief statement and they keep moving. To draw attention, to have press conferences and then to continue to dwell on it and talk about it to just adding fuel to the fire.

O'REILLY: Doctor, that's so naive, it's pitiful. You're going to see that in the John McCain commercial for the next eight months. Go ahead, Angela.

MCGLOWAN: But Dr. Hill, listen, the bottom line is that they're both intelligent people. And Bill, I believe they know exactly what they're doing. They're preying on the fact that there is a division in America. And Michelle could have said in essence I'm very proud that my husband is uniting this country, that he's bringing everybody together. Young people are getting out and voting for the first time. She said in essence this is the first time that she's proud of her country.

O'REILLY: Now that's what I don't understand.

MCGLOWAN: The bottom line is Obama...

O'REILLY: That's what I'm not getting. Angela, hold it, hold it, hold it. That's what I'm not getting. See, I'm not getting that because she's a Harvard grad, she's a Princeton grad, she's a smart woman, she's articulate. I'm not getting that statement. I'm just not understanding the statement, because you can't win an election, you cannot win an election telling the American people I've never been proud of my country until now.

What, you've never been proud of the Berlin Wall coming down and all of Eastern Europe being free? You're not proud that American taxpayers have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Africa to fight AIDS? You're not proud that our brave military people have removed the Taliban? You're not proud of any of that? You've never been proud of your country until now? Dr. Hill? That's suicide. That's a suicidal statement.

HILL: But now we're taking the text out of context. What she was talking about was the everyday American people. Didn't tear down the wall per se. What she's talking about is the ability of everyday American people to call for change and to bring about radical change in Washington.

O'REILLY: She's got to explain it. She's got to explain it, not you.

HILL: I think that's what she said though.

O'REILLY: I think you're doing — and by the way, I think you're doing Michelle Obama a very good service, doctor. But unless she steps up and she clarifies it, this is big-time damage.

HILL: But I think that's what she said. I mean, she said this is the first time that the American people have really been about real change.

O'REILLY: No, no. She said it's the first time in my adult life that I've been proud of my country. That's exactly what she said.

HILL: And there was a sentence after that. The sentence after that is equally critical. She was talking about people wanting to bring about change. That change she's talking about is through partisan politics. Again, she became an adult during the Reagan administration which highlighted difference, rather than sameness.

O'REILLY: Let's give Angela the last word. Go ahead, Angela.

MCGLOWAN: But Dr. Hill, in our community, a lot of folks believe that America is against them. The gangster rappers, the whole nine yards. And Michelle Obama was preying on that, saying in essence, this is the first time she's ever been proud of a country that's given her so much opportunity, doctor.

O'REILLY: All right, very good debate. Very good debate both of you. Angela, Dr. Hill, thank you.

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