This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 14, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight. How is the media being responsible here or not in the Cheney situation? Joining us now from Washington Bill Sammon, senior White House correspondent for the Washington Times and Clarence Page, nationally syndicated columnist out of the Chicago Trib.
Now Clarence, you are not going to sit there and tell me this is an important story. Are you?
CLARENCE PAGE, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I would like to ask you, if this has happened with al gore when he was vice president would the situation be reversed? Would you be wanting to know everything that you could?
O'REILLY: Not at all. I would have been bored to tears then as I am bored to tears now.
PAGE: On the record, Bill, you wouldn't care if the vice president happened to shoot somebody while off on the weekend and the story didn't come out except through a small Texas newspaper leaked to them on tip.
O'REILLY: Clarence, I have got to tell you the truth. I was not a nitpicker on Clinton or gore.
PAGE: To your credit, Bill.
O'REILLY: I don't think this is a big story.
PAGE: I was a nitpicker on both of them.
O'REILLY: Why do you care about an accident that took place in South Texas? What is the big deal about that?
PAGE: The way it was handled. The fact it looks like one more cover- up in administration that censors and cover-ups.
O'REILLY: Cover-up of what?
PAGE: Well, you don't know until you ask the questions, Bill. You are a journalist. You and I have both been in this business a long time. And our job is to ask questions and the job of the administration is to give some answers. It's not rocket science.
O'REILLY: If you get in a fender bender and I get in a fender bender.
PAGE: It's more than a fender bender. This is live ammo, you know, I mean, we are lucky the man wasn't hurt more seriously and we still — he is not out of the woods yet.
O'REILLY: It's about him and it's about a bad accident. If I have a bad accident, somebody falls down in high house and breaks their leg, I don't hold a press conference.
PAGE: Because you are not the vice president.
O'REILLY: No, but I'm a public figure and if I were a vice president I wouldn't hold a press conference either.
PAGE: When Bill Clinton broke his leg when while he was on a golf outing that was big news. What time it happened. How it happened.
O'REILLY: It wasn't big news to me.
PAGE: The administration is supposed to give a release to the AP. That's the normal procedure. You know that.
O'REILLY: It is the normal procedure. Cheney was foolish not to do it. It's not a big story. Go ahead. Bill?
BILL SAMMON, WASHINGTON TIMES CORRESPONDENT: You took the words right out of my mouth. Cheney made a mistake obviously by accidentally shooting someone, A. B, he compounded that mistake by not coming clean and being forthright about disclosing this information. And, C, the press has a right to be upset to a degree, that they were kept in the dark about this important development. Somewhat important development.
O'REILLY: I don't think it's important, Bill.
SAMMON: But having said that, having said, that the problem, Bill, is the matter of degree. The press is treating this thing like it's World War III. They are letting all their pinned up frustrations with this administration come pouring into the briefing room because they have always had contempt for Cheney. They have never been able to nail him on anything. They didn't get him on the energy task force. They didn't get him in the Fitzgerald probe and now they have got him on something and it's out of all proportion to what — it's using up so much more oxygen than it deserves.
O'REILLY: It's the hate Bush-Cheney media once again. Clarence, let me ask you this I want to you vote in the poll. The billoreilly.com poll. What's more important in al gore in Saudi Arabia making accusations that Americans are brutalizing Arabs on American soil or quail accident.
PAGE: If I was the editor, and I am at this moment, thank you very much. No question. What the vice president does. The current vice president does is more important.
O'REILLY: The quail thing is more important than in a war on terror, a former vice president possibly inciting anti-American feeling around the world.
PAGE: I'm not saying don't cover the Gore story. I'm not saying that.
O'REILLY: It wasn't covered.
PAGE: I will buy that if it wasn't covered. I don't know how you and I could be talking about it if it wasn't covered because it was covered.
O'REILLY: So you go with Cheney. So in your opinion I made the wrong editorial decision last night by going Gore over Cheney. Cheney should have been the lead.
PAGE: Bill, we are a daily business and every editor makes the decision.
O'REILLY: Both happened over the weekend.
PAGE: The easiest way to criticize when you covered that story instead of that story. The fact is both stories deserved to be covered but what the current vice president does is more important.
O'REILLY: Bill, do you agree with that?
SAMMON: Well, I think it's a matter of context. We cover the story at the Washington Times, we put it inside. I did a story on Iran's nuclear ambitions we put it on the front page. By contrast the New York Times, Washington Post put this Cheney thing on the front page. That's a judgment call. That tells you where the press is coming from.
The other thing is, Bill, I think by overreacting to this, the press is in danger of overreaching, you have got network correspondents in the briefing room calling the press secretary a jerk. Now, this is why America hates the mainstream media. There was a poll out in November by the Pew Research Foundation that showed the number of Americans who think the press covers Bush in a biased way has jumped 20 percent in two years. There is a reason for that and that's because they behave this way.
O'REILLY: I definitely think that the hate Bush media has had an impact. I want to say one thing. I did two hours of radio on this and I asked my listeners today tell me why this Cheney thing is important. Tell me why. You are the folks. Tell me why. Nobody could. Not one person could tell me why the quail accident, shooting quail down in South Texas was important to them or germane to their lives or had anything to do with their lives at all. Not one in two hours.
PAGE: I will be happy to tell you why it's important.
O'REILLY: To their lives?
PAGE: Absolutely. What if this had been a terrorist attack. We don't know what went on until we ask the question.
O'REILLY: What if martians come down and kidnap you tonight, Clarence? Come on. We deal with reality.
PAGE: If this story doesn't change in a couple days, Bill, and it's still on page one, then you have got an argument. Let's face it. This story may a one-day story. But it's lasted for three days because of the way the administration has handled it.
O'REILLY: I don't think it affects anybody's life at all. Gentlemen, very interesting as always. We appreciate you guys coming on.
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