Why Did White House Shut Out 'Fox News Sunday'?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 28, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Weekdays With Bernie" segment tonight: Yesterday, Secretary of State Clinton and Defense Secretary Gates went on ABC, CBS, and NBC talking about Libya. They avoided "Fox News Sunday." Chris Wallace was not pleased.


CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": The Obama team felt no need to explain to the millions of you who watch this program and Fox News why they have sent U.S. servicemen and -women into combat. We thought you'd like to know.


O'REILLY: Joining us now from Miami, the purveyor of BernardGoldberg.com, Mr. Goldberg. So, was it was a big diss, disrespectful to Fox News?

BERNIE GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I wouldn't choose the word "disrespectful." I would say it was -- "dumb" is a better word. I think it was a dumb decision not to go on Fox.

First of all, if -- and I'm underlining the word "if" -- if this was an honest decision to simply go with the more traditional media, the White House has to understand that this is the 21st century and there's a lot more out there than just ABC, NBC and CBS. Fox matters, and it matters a lot. That's why I don't think it was that. I think the war between the White House and Fox is continuing. I don't think -- I think it cooled down for a while, but it never went away.

The idea that these smart people -- and I'm not saying that sarcastically -- smart people at the White House either don't understand or refuse to understand the distinction between partisan anchors, in some cases rabidly partisan anchors, on Fox and a straight-shooter, hard news solid journalist like Chris Wallace is absolutely ridiculous. I mean, to not understand that distinction is really dumb.

O'REILLY: Well, Ted Koppel was on CNN yesterday and didn't seem to understand it either. But to be fair to the Obama White House, they didn't do CNN. CNN has a bunch of morning shows, Sunday morning shows. I think they hid behind the fact that, well, we didn't do cable; we just did broadcast. But as you pointed out, "Fox News Sunday" is on broadcast.

GOLDBERG: Fox is on -- Fox is on the broadcast network, right.

O'REILLY: I can't really figure this out because -- here's why I can't figure it out. The Fox audience is divided on the Libyan action. They're divided on it. BillOReilly.com polling, Fox News polling, very close. There isn't any anti-Obama juggernaut on this network.


O'REILLY: Some of us, like me, support the action. Some others don't. But it's evenly divided. So I don't -- I don't get why they want to stoke this up.

GOLDBERG: Neither do I. But from a -- I'll say this, from a political point of view, it doesn't make any sense. Barack Obama is going to need the independents that he lost in 2010. A lot of independents watch the Fox News Channel. Barack Obama won't win any Republicans who watch Fox, but he has a shot at some of those independents. But when he disrespects, to use the word that you used in the lead-in, Fox News, and more importantly, when he disrespects the viewers, who hear Chris say what he said about the White House or -- and the administration, and what he correctly said, I don't think that endears the independents to Barack Obama in 2012.


GOLDBERG: So, politically, I don't think it's a smart move.

O'REILLY: You know, it's interesting, because I just did this in the No Spin News we have for BillOReilly.com premium members after the program. The No Spin News are stories that I don't cover. The same thing's happening to Sarah Palin. Her favorability among Republicans and independents has dropped four points in a month, and the reason I think it's dropping is because she's not engaging directly. You know, when I had her on this program, I asked her some specific questions, she didn't want to answer, and she wanted to the give a speech, this, that and the other thing.


O'REILLY: So I think you're absolutely right that Barack Obama, if he looks like he doesn't want to go into the tougher venues -- and I don't think Wallace would be any tougher than the other guys -- that people are going to say, "Look, you're not confident in your position. That's not leadership."

GOLDBERG: I rest my case, your honor.

O'REILLY: All right. So what you're saying to the audience is I summed it up so beautifully that you're at a loss for words?

GOLDBERG: Something like that.

O'REILLY: OK. Now last week you predicted Katie Couric is leaving the CBS anchor chair on the "Evening News." It looks like that is true. Some people felt that she might stay there through the 2012 election, but it looks like she's out of there come June. And who do you think is going to take her place?

GOLDBERG: Well, first, let me say, the news I broke on your program exactly one week ago, that wasn't an educated guess. Let's just say I knew what I was talking about.

O'REILLY: You knew. Somebody told you that you trust.

GOLDBERG: I'm not saying -- I'm not saying that. I said I know what I was talking about.

O'REILLY: Then you went to Ms. Cleo, who told you, in Miami?

GOLDBERG: I'm not prepared to go beyond that.


GOLDBERG: As far as who's going to take over, let me cite the great American philosopher Yogi Berra, who said, "Making predictions is hard, especially when it's about the future." So I can tell you -- I can tell you, again, this is not an educated guess. I can tell you that it is not a settled case. I mean, there's a lot of talk about Scott Pelley. He could very well end up in that chair, but it is not game over yet.

O'REILLY: All right. So they don't know yet who they're going to replace Ms. Couric. Now, Katie Couric may stay with the CBS network as a syndicated daytime host and do some "60 Minutes" spots we read. But she's going to take a big salary cut, but there are other opportunities in other places for her.

GOLDBERG: Right. Right. In daytime television if she's prepared to do, you know, the kind of stuff that succeeds in daytime television.

O'REILLY: Well, she did the "Today" show for all those years, and they did all that stuff.

GOLDBERG: And that's -- and let me say this about that. The reason she didn't succeed on the evening news is because a lot of people like corn flakes for breakfast but not for dinner. Katie Couric was corn flakes. She was immensely popular at breakfast time but not at dinnertime. That's why it didn't work. And she may be popular again at, if not breakfast time, at you know, a little after breakfast time.

O'REILLY: Brunch time.

GOLDBERG: Some people work in the early morning hours, and some people work in the evening hours.

O'REILLY: I also think though if Katie Couric had had the Oprah Winfrey juggernaut that most of the ABC stations have, then she would have performed a lot better. There's a lot of lead-in stuff going on there.

GOLDBERG: Lead-ins count. No question about that.

O'REILLY: All right, Bernie. Thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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