NBC's Anti-Iraq Bias

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 5, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight: a different view of the Iraq reportage and the news business in general, with us now, veteran NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell, whose book "Talking Back to Presidents, Dictators and Assorted Scoundrels" that might be me, is out in paperback.

I wanted everyone to know that you've been a correspondent over there for 30 years at NBC. And we checked you out thoroughly. — We could not find any bias in your reporting. None. OK. So I don't have a problem with you. I do have a problem with NBC News. Tell me where I'm going wrong.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT AND AUTHOR: You're wrong because things are taken out of context. Tom Brokaw said it's not helpful. I think he's absolutely right. It wasn't helpful.

O'REILLY: No, he said flat out that it was going to lead to a rise in more violence. He was wrong.

MITCHELL: And we've only had a week.

O'REILLY: It's been a week. It's been wrong.

MITCHELL: We don't know what the timeframe is for that.

O'REILLY: Well, so far, he's been wrong. Would you give me that?

MITCHELL: No, because what you took was...


MITCHELL: ...five seconds out of a much longer conversation.

O'REILLY: It was much worse. I took — what Brokaw said was that you want me to run the whole clip, which we did last night. It was much worse.


O'REILLY: I mean, he condemned every part of that execution as a fiasco, "a Wild West hanging." It was much worse. I gave the most benign...


O'REILLY: Go ahead.

MITCHELL: There's no question that that execution and the way it was portrayed, which is why the White House did not want it portrayed, which is why they didn't want exactly what happened. They said it wasn't helpful. The president of the United States said it was not helpful, which is exactly what Tom Brokaw said.

O'REILLY: It was an Iraqi screw up, not a USA screw up.

MITCHELL: Well, there was no question that it was an Iraqi screw up.

O'REILLY: Right.

MITCHELL: Not a USA screw up.

O'REILLY: That's not the impression that NBC News put forth.

MITCHELL: That's not correct.

O'REILLY: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. OK.

MITCHELL: Bill, Bill, Bill...

O'REILLY: All right, go ahead.

MITCHELL: We're talking about NBC News is NBC Nightly News. It's NBC News on msnbc.com. It's a cable channel. It's cell phone video.

O'REILLY: "Today Show."

MITCHELL: "Today Show."

O'REILLY: On and on.

MITCHELL: Absolutely. So you're talking about...

O'REILLY: You're telling me.

MITCHELL: ...a major news network, which has a wide variety of reports in a lot of different contexts.


MITCHELL: And you're taking a teeny little bit.

O'REILLY: Why would the Center for Media and Public Affairs say that you favoredJohn Kerry more than any other?

MITCHELL: That is a very subjective judgment. What you're saying.

O'REILLY: You don't believe that?

MITCHELL: I don't believe that.


MITCHELL: I really don't. I think that.

O'REILLY: So you think that they were — they have it in for...


O'REILLY: ...like I have it in for NBC. I'll admit it. I don't like you guys. I like you.


O'REILLY: I like "The Today Show."

But I think your management is — made a conscious business decision to go to the left.

MITCHELL: That's just not true.

O'REILLY: All right, that's my opinion based upon reams of material.

But anyway, why would the Center for Media and Public Affairs — which is non-partisan, doesn't have any ax to grind against NBC — come out with a study analyzing all the reportage about the Kerry, Bush race in 2006 and conclude that NBC News was by far and away the most biased?

MITCHELL: I think those studies are invariably misleading, because they're attaching a value judgment to a particular sound bite or a word or a phrase, and weighting it, saying this is pro, this is con, this is subjective.

I don't think that any of our reports — yours, mine, CNN's, any of — CBS, ABC — I don't think that you can take that kind of a statistical analysis to the textual and contextual work that we do.

O'REILLY: But then there's no reality. See, if you can't analyze what is actually said and written in any journalistic enterprise, there's no reality.

All right, you've been 30 years at NBC. Can you tell me one conservative thinker at NBC News?

MITCHELL: How do you define conservative?

O'REILLY: I don't know — traditional values, maybe supports...

MITCHELL: Are you talking about commentators? Are you talking about.

O'REILLY: Anybody, give me anybody. Is there anybody over there who's conservative, in your opinion?

MITCHELL: Well - yes, I think there are a lot of people.

O'REILLY: Give me one.

MITCHELL: ...who are privately conservative or privately liberal.

O'REILLY: Give me one.

MITCHELL: But I — we don't judge ourselves by how we approach the news.

O'REILLY: OK, I just look at all your on-the-air- talent and "The Today Show"— and I love those guys. All right? They're all liberal. Everyone of them.

MITCHELL: I disagree.

O'REILLY: All right? They'll admit they're liberals, Andrea.

MITCHELL: I don't think that.

O'REILLY: Have you asked Lauer and Vieira and Ann Curry? They'll admit they're liberal.

MITCHELL: I think...

O'REILLY: When Katie was there, she admitted she was liberal. Come on!

MITCHELL: That's not the way we approach the news.

O'REILLY: But that's who they are. They...

MITCHELL: They're journalists, Bill.

O'REILLY: ...that's who they are. That's true. And you're entitled to your public and private beliefs. You are. And I don't have any quibble with that. But if it's all one way, if it's all of them across the board, then I'm saying where's the diversity?

MITCHELL: I strongly disagree. In fact, we are attacked...

O'REILLY: But you can't tell me one conservative.

MITCHELL: We — I can't tell you one liberal thinker. We.

O'REILLY: You can't? Chris Matthews.

MITCHELL: ...we're...

O'REILLY: Chris Matthews.

MITCHELL: He is...


MITCHELL: ...on MSNBC and...

O'REILLY: No, no, he's on "The Today Show" and on "The "Nightly News". He's your main political commentator.

MITCHELL: As an analyst...


MITCHELL: And I wouldn't call it...

O'REILLY: And he's a liberal thinker.

MITCHELL: I don't think he's a liberal thinker.

O'REILLY: He's not? He worked for Tip O'Neill. How much more liberal can you get?

MITCHELL: He worked for Tip O'Neill how many years ago?

O'REILLY: I don't think he's changed his spots. I am giving you way too much of a hard time.

MITCHELL: No, but...

O'REILLY: I am. And I apologize. It's not your fault.

MITCHELL: But I don't think that it is fair to describe journalists as liberals or conservatives.

O'REILLY: I do, because I think that it's filtered through a prism. But I want to apologize to you. I'm giving you way too hard a time.

It's not your fault. And your book is excellent.


O'REILLY: And I have to tell people to buy your book because you are fair. You are balanced. And you are accurate. And you have had a window on history for the last 30 years that none of us have had. And you are going to learn a lot from reading your book.

But I am distressed and I am about what's happening over where you work. And I'm sorry that I had to take it out on you.

MITCHELL: Well, I appreciate your comments. But I have the tell you that I don't feel that there is bias in what we do at NBC News. And I don't think there's bias in CBS or ABC.

O'REILLY: How about FOX?

MITCHELL: I feel — I don't think — look, I think that FOX News is a terrific news organization.

O'REILLY: Are we biased?

MITCHELL: And I — there are commentators who are biased. And I don't think that the newscasts are necessarily biased. I don't.

O'REILLY: Shepard Smith will be thrilled.

Andrea Mitchell. Buy her book. All right, just for sitting here and listen to me bloviate - she deserves you to buy her book. Thank you, Andrea. Thank you so much.

MITCHELL: Thank you.

O'REILLY: Thank you so much. Nice to see you.

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