This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 27, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.
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It was a match-up the media and political observers have longed for. No, not George W. Bush against John Kerry. It's Michael Moore (search) against Bill O'Reilly.
Moore, the director who made "Fahrenheit 9/11" (search) and created one of the election season's biggest uproars, said he wouldn't go on "The O'Reilly Factor" until O'Reilly saw the entire movie. And he said any conversation would have to be aired without any editing and with the opportunity for Moore to ask O'Reilly questions.
All of the demands were met and Moore sat down with O'Reilly in the FOX News skybox high about the floor of the Democratic National Convention. Following is the full transcript of their meeting:
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: That’s fair. We’ll just stick to the issues.
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: The issues… all right good. Now, one of the issues is you because you’ve been calling Bush a liar on weapons of mass destruction, the Senate Intelligence Committee, Lord Butler’s investigation in Britain and now the 9/11 Commission have all come out and said there was no lying on the part of President Bush. Plus, Vladimir Putin has said his intelligence told Bush there were weapons of mass destruction. Wanna apologize to the president now or later?
MOORE: He didn’t tell the truth, he said there were weapons of mass destruction.
O'REILLY: Yeah, but he didn’t lie, he was misinformed by — all of those investigations come to the same conclusion. That’s not a lie.
MOORE: Uh huh. So, in other words, if I told you right now that nothing was going on down here on the stage…
O'REILLY: That would be a lie because we could see that wasn’t the truth.
MOORE: Well, I’d have to turn around to see it and then I would realize, oh Bill, I just told you something that wasn’t true… actually it’s President Bush that needs to apologize to the nation for telling an entire country that there were weapons of mass destruction, that they had evidence of this and that there was some sort of connection between Saddam Hussein and September 11th, and he used that as a…
O'REILLY: OK, He never said that, but back to the other thing: If you, if Michael Moore is president…
MOORE: I thought you said you saw the movie? I show all that in the movie.
O'REILLY: Which may happen if Hollywood, yeah, OK, fine…
MOORE: But that was your question…
O'REILLY: Just the issues. You’ve got three separate investigations plus the president of Russia all saying… British intelligence, U.S. intelligence, Russian intelligence, told the president there were weapons of mass destruction; you say he lied. This is not a lie if you believe it to be true, now he may have made a mistake, which is obvious…
MOORE: Well, that’s almost pathological. I mean, many criminals believe what they say is true; they could pass a lie detector test…
O'REILLY: All right, now you’re dancing around a question…
MOORE: No, I’m not. There’s no dancing.
O'REILLY: He didn’t lie.
MOORE: He said something that wasn’t true.
O'REILLY: Based upon bad information given to him by legitimate sources.
MOORE: Now you know that they went to the CIA, Cheney went to the CIA, they wanted that information, they wouldn’t listen to anybody.
O'REILLY: They wouldn’t go by Russian intelligence and Blair’s intelligence too.
MOORE: His own people told him. I mean, he went to Richard Clarke the day after September 11th and said, “What you got on Iraq?” and Richard Clarke’s going “Oh well this wasn’t Iraq that did this sir, this was Al Qaeda.”
O'REILLY: You’re diverting the issue… did you read Woodward’s book?
MOORE: No, I haven’t read his book.
O'REILLY: Woodward’s a good reporter, right? Good guy, you know who he is right?
MOORE: I know who he is.
O'REILLY: OK, he says in his book George Tenet looked the president in the eye, like how I am looking you in the eye right now and said, “President, weapons of mass destruction are a quote, end quote, ‘slam dunk.’” If you’re the president, you ignore all that?
MOORE: Yeah, I would say that the CIA had done a pretty poor job.
O'REILLY: I agree. Tenet was fired.
MOORE: Yeah, but not before they took us to war based on his intelligence. This is a man who ran the CIA, a CIA that was so poorly organized and run that it wouldn’t communicate with the FBI before September 11th and as a result in part we didn’t have a very good intelligence system set up before September 11th.
O'REILLY: Nobody disputes that...
MOORE: OK, so he screws up September 11th. Why would you then listen to him, he says this is a “slam dunk” and your going to go to war.
O'REILLY: You’ve got MI-6 and Russian intelligence because they’re all saying the same thing that’s why. You’re not going to apologize to Bush, you are going to continue to call him a liar.
MOORE: Oh, he lied to the nation, Bill, I can’t think of a worse thing to do for a president to lie to a country to take them to war. I mean, I don’t know a worse…
O'REILLY: It wasn’t a lie.
MOORE: He did not tell the truth, what do you call that?
O'REILLY: I call that bad information, acting on bad information; not a lie.
MOORE: A seven year old can get away with that…
O'REILLY: All right, your turn to ask me a question…
MOORE: “Mom and Dad it was just bad information…”
O'REILLY: I’m not going to get you to admit it wasn’t a lie. Go ahead.
MOORE: It was a lie, and now, which leads us to my question.
MOORE: Over 900 of our brave soldiers are dead. What do you say to their parents?
O'REILLY: What do I say to their parents? I say what every patriotic American would say: “We are proud of your sons and daughters. They answered the call that their country gave them. We respect them and we feel terrible that they were killed.”
MOORE: But what were they killed for?
O'REILLY: They were removing a brutal dictator who himself killed hundreds of thousands of people.
MOORE: Um, but that was not the reason that was given to them to go to war: to remove a brutal dictator.
O'REILLY: Well, we’re back to the weapons of mass destruction.
MOORE: But that was the reason…
O'REILLY: The weapons of mass destruction…
MOORE: That we were told we were under some sort of imminent threat…
O'REILLY: That’s right.
MOORE: And there was no threat, was there?
O'REILLY: It was a mistake.
MOORE: Oh, just a mistake, and that’s what you tell all the parents with a deceased child, “We’re sorry.” I don’t think that is good enough.
O'REILLY: I don’t think its good enough either for those parents.
MOORE: So we agree on that.
O'REILLY: But that is the historical nature of what happened.
MOORE: Bill, if I made a mistake and I said something or did something as a result of my mistake but it resulted in the death of your child, how would you feel towards me?
O'REILLY: It depends on whether the mistake was unintentional.
MOORE: No, not intentional, it was a mistake.
O'REILLY: Then if it was an unintentional mistake I cannot hold you morally responsible for that.
MOORE: Really, I’m driving down the road and I hit your child and your child is dead.
O'REILLY: If it were unintentional and you weren’t impaired or anything like that.
MOORE: So, that’s all it is, if it was alcohol, even though it was a mistake — how would you feel towards me
O'REILLY: OK, now we are wandering.
MOORE: No, but my point is…
O'REILLY: I saw what your point is and I answered your question.
MOORE: But why? What did they die for?
O'REILLY: They died to remove a brutal dictator who had killed hundreds of thousands of people…
MOORE: No, that was not the reason…
O'REILLY: That’s what they died for…
MOORE: …they were given…
O'REILLY: The weapons of mass destruction was a mistake.
MOORE: Well there were 30 other brutal dictators in this world…
O'REILLY: Alright, I’ve got anther question…
MOORE: Would you sacrifice — just finish on this — would you sacrifice your child to remove one of the other 30 brutal dictators on this planet?
O'REILLY: Depends what the circumstances were.
MOORE: You would sacrifice your child?
O'REILLY: I would sacrifice myself — I’m not talking for any children —to remove the Taliban. Would you?
MOORE: Uh huh.
O'REILLY: Would you? That’s my next question. Would you sacrifice yourself to remove the Taliban?
MOORE: I would be willing to sacrifice my life to track down the people that killed 3,000 people on our soil.
O'REILLY: Al Qaeda was given refuge by the Taliban.
MOORE: But we didn’t go after them, did we?
O'REILLY: We removed the Taliban and killed three quarters of Al Qaeda.
MOORE: That’s why the Taliban are still killing our soldiers there.
O'REILLY: OK, well look you can’t kill everybody. You wouldn’t have invaded Afghanistan — you wouldn’t have invaded Afghanistan, would you?
MOORE: No, I would have gone after the man that killed 3,000 people.
MOORE: As Richard Clarke says, our special forces were prohibited for two months from going to the area that we believed Usama was…
O'REILLY: Why was that?
MOORE: That’s my question.
O'REILLY: Because Pakistan didn’t want its territory of sovereignty violated.
MOORE: Not his was in Afghanistan, on the border, we didn’t go there. He got a two-month head start.
O'REILLY: All right, you would not have removed the Taliban. You would not have removed that government?
MOORE: No, unless it is a threat to us.
O'REILLY: Any government? Hitler, in Germany, not a threat to us the beginning but over there executing people all day long — you would have let him go?
MOORE: That’s not true. Hitler with Japan, attacked the United States.
O'REILLY: From '33 until '41, he wasn’t an imminent threat to the United States.
MOORE: There’s a lot of things we should have done.
O'REILLY: You wouldn’t have removed him.
MOORE: I wouldn’t have even allowed him to come to power.
O'REILLY: That was a preemption from Michael Moore. You would have invaded.
MOORE: If we’d done our job, you want to get into to talking about what happened before WWI, whoa, I’m trying to stop this war right now.
O'REILLY: I know you are but…
MOORE: Are you against that? Stopping this war?
O'REILLY: No, we cannot leave Iraq right now, we have to…
MOORE: So, you would sacrifice your child to secure Fallujah? I want to hear you say that.
O'REILLY: I would sacrifice myself..
MOORE: Your child? It’s Bush sending the children there.
O'REILLY: I would sacrifice myself.
MOORE: You and I don’t go to war, because we’re too old…
O'REILLY: Because if we back down, there will be more deaths and you know it.
MOORE: Say, “I, Bill O’Reilly, would sacrifice my child to secure Fallujah.”
O'REILLY: I’m not going to say what you say, you’re a, that’s ridiculous…
MOORE: You don’t believe that. Why should Bush sacrifice the children of people across America for this?
O'REILLY: Look it’s a worldwide terrorism — I know that escapes you —
MOORE: Wait a minute, terrorism? Iraq?
O'REILLY: Yes. There are terrorist in Iraq.
MOORE: Oh really? So Iraq now is responsible for the terrorism here?
O'REILLY: Iraq aided terrorists. Don’t you know anything about any of that?
MOORE: So, you’re saying Iraq is responsible for what?
O'REILLY: I’m saying that Saddam Hussein aided all day long.
MOORE: You’re not going to get me to defend Saddam Hussein.
O'REILLY: I’m not? You’re his biggest defender in the media.
MOORE: Now come on.
O'REILLY: Look, if you were running he would still be sitting there.
MOORE: How do you know that?
O'REILLY: If you were running the country, he’d still be sitting there.
MOORE: How do you know that?
O'REILLY: You wouldn’t have removed him.
MOORE: Look, let me tell you something in the 1990s look at all the brutal dictators that were removed. Things were done; you take any of a number of countries whether its Eastern Europe, the people rose up. South Africa the whole world boycotted…
O'REILLY: When Reagan was building up the arms, you were against that.
MOORE: And the dictators were gone. Building up the arms did not cause the fall of Eastern Europe.
O'REILLY: Of course it did, it bankrupted the Soviet Union and then it collapsed.
MOORE: The people rose up.
O'REILLY: Why? Because they went bankrupt.
MOORE: the same way we did in our country, the way we had our revolution. People rose up…
O'REILLY: All right, all right.
MOORE: …that’s how you, let me ask you this question.
O'REILLY: One more.
MOORE: How do you deliver democracy to a country? You don’t do it down the barrel of a gun. That’s not how you deliver it.
O'REILLY: You give the people some kind of self-determination, which they never would have had under Saddam…
MOORE: Why didn’t they rise up?
O'REILLY: Because they couldn’t, it was a Gestapo-led place where they got their heads cut off…
MOORE: Well that’s true in many countries throughout the world…
O'REILLY: It is, it’s a shame…
MOORE: …and you know what people have done, they’ve risen up. You can do it in a number of ways . You can do it our way through a violent revolution, which we won, the French did it that way. You can do it by boycotting South Africa, they overthrew the dictator there. There’s many ways…
O'REILLY: I’m glad we’ve had this discussion because it just shows you that I see the world my way, you see the world your way, alright and the audience is watching us here and they can decide who is right and who is wrong and that’s the fair way to do it. Right?
MOORE: Right, I would not sacrifice my child to secure Fallujah and you would?
O'REILLY: I would sacrifice myself.
MOORE: You wouldn’t send another child, another parents child to Fallujah, would you? You would sacrifice your life to secure Fallujah?
O'REILLY: I would.
MOORE: Can we sign him up? Can we sign him up right now?
O'REILLY: That’s right.
MOORE: Where’s the recruiter?
O'REILLY: You’d love to get rid of me.
MOORE: No, I want you to live. I want you to live.
O'REILLY: I appreciate that Michael Moore everybody. There he is.
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