This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 4, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight, political smear sites. They operate on both sides of the political spectrum. There are no rules. These people will do and say pretty much anything to harm people with whom they disagree politically.
The trend started back in the Clinton-Lewinsky days, and now thousands of bloggers (search) are operating, throwing dirt all over the place. Now they're not all bad. Some of these bloggers are good, accurate watchdogs. But there are plenty of awful ones.
Joining us now from Portland, Oregon, is David Kline, author of the book "Blog! How the Newest Media Revolution is Changing Politics, Business and Culture." From Washington, Jed Babbin, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, who was slimed recently by the vile Media Matters outfit.
I think they're the worst, although Smoking Gun is awful. But Media Matters — this is a George Soros (search) funded thing. They've got a lot of money. They have no ethics or scruples. And what did they do to you, Mr. Babbin?
JED BABBIN, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, AMERICAN SPECTATOR: Well, it was fairly typical of what they always do. They disagreed with something I said on television. It was about the Iraq war and the fact that we did not find Saddam's weapons of mass destruction proved absolutely nothing about whether he had them before the war, because we gave him six months to fiddle and diddle with them and Charles Deulfer's (search) report probably shows that they were taken somewhere else, perhaps, into Syria.
Basically, by the time that I got home, they had somehow found my e-mail address and posted it on their Web site, saying that I was a liar and I'd gotten, oh, I don't know, 100, 150 e-mails, all on the basic eloquence level of liar, liar, pants on fire.
O'REILLY: So they violated your privacy by putting out your personal e-mail address. Then the zombies that feed off the trough of these people wrote pretty much the identical e-mail. Because I get identical e-mails. That's what I get. So they're pretty much identical. These zombies can't even think for themselves. They have to tell them what to write, correct?
BABBIN: Exactly. It's a little boys, "Lord of the Flies" kind of atmosphere, some of these things. They don't want to be civilized, so they aren't. But they're really not very efficient or effective. I mean, they're more of a nuisance than anything else.
O'REILLY: I have to disagree with you. I think Soros, his money that goes in, and then hires these assassins, does damage. I mean, these are the people who damaged William Bennett (search). And they tried to damage me.
Before we get to you, Mr. Kline, I'll tell you a funny story. I had Phil Donahue on the air a couple of weeks ago. I had a shoot out with him. And I come in the next day, and I get a big stack of e-mail, of course.
And you could tell the ones that were generated by the crazy left wing Web sites, because the wording was all the same. Here's the wording: "We really like you, Bill, and are big fans of 'The Factor,' but your treatment of Phil Donahue was" — every one was worded the same. And even the misspellings were the same.
Now I don't know what crazy Web site it came from, but it did come from one.
Now how do you see it, Mr. Kline? Are we overstating this?
DAVID KLINE, AUTHOR OF "BLOG!": No, I think there are a lot of nut cases out there. You have Web sites and political bloggers that believe that President Bush orchestrated the 9/11 attacks.
O'REILLY: You mean he didn't? That's what I've been hearing from Phil Donahue and Jeremy Glick and Michael Moore, that he orchestrated it. You mean he didn't? That's not true?
KLINE: Well, there are also bloggers out there who believe that President Clinton had Vince Foster assassinated.
KLINE: These people five years ago, they would meet in a local Marriott Hotel conference room somewhere and order pizza. But now with the Internet, you know, they've got reach. They've got access to thousands, thousands of people.
O'REILLY: But here's the dangerous thing. They also have access to the major newspapers like The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The New York Daily News, Newsday, Washington Post. They have certain columnists that they are friendly with and they spit this stuff right into those columnists, Mr. Babbin, do they not?
BABBIN: Well, absolutely. I mean, we're really in a situation now where, Bill, five or 10 years ago, we had what was called a news cycle. And people waited an hour or two or 12 before putting something in print or on the air. Right now there is no news cycle. Everything is instantaneous, whether it's on television, on the Internet, or anywhere else. And reporters in some cases get pretty lazy. They take uncorroborated stuff right off of a Web site and put it out on the air or in the newspaper. And it's just garbage.
O'REILLY: And you know how they get around it? Then they call you for comment. They print the slander and then they print all the defamation, and then they call you — come on. That makes it OK? Go ahead. Go ahead, Mr. Kline.
KLINE: Well, I think maybe we should take a different tact on this. I mean, let's not be babies about the partisanship.
The kind of partisanship that you're seeing on the Web with these blogs, yes, some of it is vicious, some of it is just loony. But it's not all that different than what used to go on in the media before the advent of corporate media.
I mean, most people before World War II grew up with 10, 15, 20 newspapers all with different points of view. And what's interesting about those times, and I think we're going back to those times with a very partisan media, is that the electorate was much more engaged. And people were much more involved in the democratic process.
O'REILLY: But here's the danger.
KLINE: They argued — but at the same time they were actually more civil.
O'REILLY: Here's the danger. You know, you're making a good point. You've got a big variety of voices out there. It's better than just The New York Times and the network news strangling people and ramming stuff down their throat.
O'REILLY: Absolutely valid, excellent point.
But here's the problem: these people are so vicious and the media is so corrupt in taking their uncorroborated, as Mr. Babbin pointed out — defamation that most people now won't run for office, sir. They won't do television and radio commentary. When we had to book this segment, I couldn't get people to come on and say what you guys are saying, because they were afraid that Media Matters would go after them.
I had people turn down this segment — a bunch of them — what are you, crazy? I'm going to criticize these assassins? They'll come after me. And that's a chilling effect.
KLINE: Well, I'm not naming names here, right? I mean, I don't want to get stalked.
O'REILLY: You see, you don't want to get stalked either. So put yourself in a position of somebody running for office or somebody trying to do an honest analysis of the news and they don't want to do it.
Go ahead, Mr. Babbin, take the last word.
BABBIN: Well, basically, you can't be afraid of these people, because the facts are what they are. And they're easily answered whenever they take these cheap shots. I'm not scared of those guys.
O'REILLY: They can make stuff up — look, they make stuff about me every day.
O'REILLY: Every day of my life. And believe me, I've got to have bodyguards. I've got to have security wherever I go. And it's because of them. I don't fear them; I loathe them.
Gentlemen, thank you very much.
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