Bill O’Reilly on his new book, Culture Warrior.
HH: The sound of breaking china is not breaking china. It’s Bill O’Reilly walking into any room with an S.P.’er, and knocking over the furniture and having a brawl. Bill O’Reilly, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
BO: Hey, how are you doing, Hugh?
HH: Good. I laughed my way through Culture Warrior. I think your Christmas card list just got a lot shorter.
BO: Well, it’s a book that needed to be written, and names are named, and you know, you didn’t see anything wrong with it, did you?
HH: No, actually. I laughed…I think George Clooney’s going to be pretty upset. I think Lakoff is going to be upset. I think actually, I think I agree with just about everything you’ve written in this, and so we’re not going to debate much, except I think your choice of photos with regards to your 70’s hair may have been improvident.
BO: Well, you know, I had to compare myself to who I was sitting across from, Susan Sarandon.
HH: I’ll come back to all this stuff. I want to do the story of the day first, Bill. I saw you covering it. I couldn’t listen, because I was on the air.
HH: John Kerry’s statement. Do you think he was making a joke?
BO: Not really. I don’t think he meant to insult the military, because that would be political suicide. So why would you do that? Was he trying to be humorous? Not really. He’s not a funny guy. He was trying to make a point, and it backfired on him, because now it gives the Republicans, who were grasping, a club. And they’re going to use that club. They’re not going to accept anything other than you see? We told you the Democrats don’t like the military, and they’re not supporting the war on terror. So this becomes a much bigger story than just a gaffe by John Kerry.
HH: Do you think he was really trying to make a point about George Bush? Or was he making an inelegant and unfunny joke about the military that backfired?
BO: I don’t think he was. You know, Kerry’s smart enough, and he is smart, to know that getting involved with the military in any kind of a disparaging way is a loser. So I think he was trying to say that look, if you don’t toe the line, and you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, you’re going to wind up in a bad situation, which is true.
HH: What about his explanation that he meant to mean George Bush got us into a mess in Iraq? Do you think he just made that up after the fact?
BO: No, no. Here’s where I think his thought process was, and it’s speculative, but based on the fact that I’ve talked to him fairly extensively over the last few months…I think he basically was telling the kids look, you’d better study. And if you don’t study, you’re going to be at the mercy of forces beyond your control. All right, that was the theoretical point he wanted to make in his mind. He then applied it to Iraq, because in his mind, Iraq is the biggest disaster that you can point to, and he wanted to frighten the kids. But he didn’t associate what he said with what it came out as being, well, you’re a complete dummy if you’re in the military. So Kerry’s not going to win this one. I mean…
HH: Well, that’s a much better explanation to come up with than the one he came up with, which is he dropped the name Bush out of the line, and he meant to say if you don’t study and do your homework, you’ll end up as the President of the United States, and you’ll make bad decisions about war. That’s just implausible, Bill O’Reilly.
BO: I believe so.
HH: Let me play for you…do you know Mark Halerpin, director of ABC political division, and The Note?
BO: Yeah. We had him on last week.
HH: All right. Here’s what he had to say tonight on this subject. I want to get your reaction, because in the Culture Warrior, Bill’s new book, there’s a lot about how elite media operates, and I think this is a perfect example. Last hour, Mark Halperin and me:
HH: Do you believe he was making a joke?
MH: I do believe he was making a joke.
HH: And now, I have had…and have you talked to any military active duty about that conclusion?
MH: Not active duty, but retired. But I don’t know…but that was almost a fluke. I don’t know that someone in the military would have more insight into what John Kerry’s brand of humor is like than someone not in the military.
HH: Does it matter at all how they, to your reporting, how the military is reacting to this statement by Kerry, and his explanation?
HH: And given that I’ve done an hour of radio tonight, I probably had fifteen calls from veterans and active duty, including one non-com, just got back from a second tour there, a medic, combat medic, seething with outrage. They’re not buying the apology, they believe it was premeditated. Should their point of view find a prominent place in your news coverage?
MH: The point of view should find a prominent, or a place in all news coverage. But again, as important and valuable as the troops are, as much as all American, and we respect them, that’s not always…they’re not necessarily the best arbiters of Senator Kerry’s sense of humor.
HH: Bill O’Reilly, what do you hear in Mark Halperin’s responses?
BO: A little defensiveness. But I think his main point is that a lot of military people don’t like Kerry, because of his anti-war stance. And that’s true. So no matter what Kerry says, these people are going to take it as a pejorative, and they’re going to be negative about Kerry. That’s true. But look, the bigger picture, Hugh, and this is important, isn’t what Kerry said. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what John Kerry says. What matters is, you’ve got a week before a very important election. You just gave the Republicans, your primary rival, a huge cannon, and loaded it for them. And that has got to be killing him, Kerry, tonight. Because look, you can argue it all day long. Who cares? Who cares what John Kerry says to kids out in California about Iraq? Nobody.
HH: Bill, I think you’re missing this, and I honestly do. And you don’t miss much, but think about this. The Vietnam era attack on the military, that they were dumb dopers who got drafted because they didn’t know what they were doing, you know, Donna Shalala saying we didn’t send our best and our brightest…
HH: The whole…that that is still very close to the surface in the military world, and they heard Kerry retreating to his 1971…
BO: I agree. I agree. But for every veteran who is bitter, and who says that I would not argue with that person. But I would say who cares? Who cares what he says? You know, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter to you. You know what your service was.
HH: Here’s why they think it matters…
BO: It doesn’t matter…what matters, what matters is that this is going to influence the election. How much? I don’t know.
HH: Well, what matters to them is that the media, the MSM, give full voice to their critique of Kerry, and I don’t think you’re going to see that, Bill O’Reilly. Will you see that on Fox?
BO: Of course you’re not going to see it. The new study just released today from Mason University, George Mason University, said in the past seven weeks, the media has covered Democrats favorably 77% of the time on the nightly network news, and Republicans 12%. Everybody knows that, Hugh. Everybody knows that the network news and the elite newspapers are in the tank for the Democrats.
HH: And in…there is a chapter, by the way, one of the strongest, Enablers At The Top, in Culture Warrior, where you methodically go through the top men in the media.
HH: Has there ever been a conservative, other than Roger Ailes, at the top of a network that mattered?
BO: You can make an argument that Bill Paley was a little conservative at CBS.
HH: How about on-air?
BO: You can make an argument…
HH: How about on-air?
BO: Howard K. Smith.
BO: Remember him?
HH: Yup, yup. Nowadays, in terms of talking heads, people with personalities on television, what’s the ratio of center-right conservatives or objective…I don’t know what we call you, O’Reilly, but to liberals? What’s the ratio?
HH: Oh, that’s lower than I would have put.
BO: It’s 5:1, because when you factor in the cable outlets, you do have guys like Lou Dobbs and like Buchanan, and people like that. So it’s 5:1. If you took the cable outfits out, it would be…there aren’t any.
HH: How about in the newspaper world? On page 142, you write very knowingly about the Los Angeles Times’ lurch to the left, and you saw their circulation numbers yesterday, I assume.
BO: Right. Yeah, let me give you some insight, because I know you live out in Southern California. You really want the inside story on the L.A. Times?
HH: Yeah, but we’ll have to wait until after the break.
BO: All right. This is good.
HH: Bill O’Reilly is my guest. The new book, Culture Warrior, is out everywhere. I actually think it’s much better, much better, because it’s so much more blunt in terms of naming names. This is really something you’ll want to pick up and give to a friend for Christmas.
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HH: Bill O’Reilly, I’m going to come back to the Times in just a second. But tomorrow, Amy Klobuchar and Bob Casey, two Democrats, are going to be campaigning with John Kerry. Is that wise for them to do tomorrow? Should they dump him?
BO: Oh, boy, is there going to be some sweating tonight, huh?
HH: Yeah. Would you tell them to dump the guy?
BO: I’m not going to tell them anything. I mean, I don’t care what they do. But as I said, Hugh, I mean, the big story here is that the Democrats had the GOP on the defensive over Iraq. It’s a referendum on Iraq. But once you start to get into the military, any kind of disparagement, then the independents say hold it, hold it, and that’s what happened.
HH: And Bill O’Reilly, on this program last year, Terry Moran said that the media, the mainstream media, has a deep anti-military bias within it, and yesterday on this program, Mark Halperin agreed with that deep anti-military bias. It’s everywhere, and I think that does motivate people when they’re reminded of it. What do you think?
BO: Yeah, you know, the media, anti-military bias, I think it’s beyond that. I really think it’s about the media believes, as secular progressives believe, as you know when you read my book, that America is the source and the cause of a lot of problems in the world, and we bring a lot of the terrorism on ourselves. You heard that with David Letterman and me last week.
BO: Terrorism’s white hot. Because we went to Iraq, we stirred them up, like they weren’t stirred up before. It’s absurd. But I don’t think it’s like the media…I’ve been in it 30 years, Hugh, and I have never heard anybody say oh, I hate those soldiers, or I don’t like this, that and the other thing. And most correspondents who have worked with the military, respect it. But it’s that mindset, that secular progressive, far left mindset that America is the source of the problem. We’re the problem.
HH: Bill, that S.P. mindset got started in Vietnam, and it’s deep in the media, and it does distrust the military a great deal. It doesn’t hate them, just distrusts them, and does not tend to think well of them, either, in their competencies.
BO: Well, you know, I would debate that. I don’t think that’s the mindset. I think the mindset is that the leadership of America, particularly Republican leadership, is a bunch of jingoists who don’t understand the plight of the downtrodden, and who helped corrupt corporate America exploit the world. And they use the military as a tool to do it. It’s a little bit more complicated than we just don’t like the military.
HH: I…well, we’ll have to come back. I want to make some other points before we’ve got to get to the L.A. Times. First of all…did you, Bill O’Reilly, vote for Bush last time around?
BO: I never say who I vote for.
HH: Oh, Bill, don’t be a mainstream…
HH: Why not?
BO: Because my job is to be a watchdog of everybody, not to promote a political party or a candidate.
HH: That’s not…that’s just telling us who you are. That’s transparency. Isn’t transparency…
BO: No, not really, because it doesn’t matter who I vote for. I vote for whoever I think is the best candidate. I’m a registered independent. But say I get behind a candidate, or say I voted for something else. I lose, I lose some of my objectivity, because…
HH: No, no you…
BO: Let me explain. If you vote for somebody, and this is…every study in the world shows this, then you’re more likely to give that person the benefit of the doubt. So if you vote for Bush, you’re more likely to say, give him a lot more rope, than you would if you voted for Kerry.
HH: I don’t agree with that, but let me try a different way then. Are you pro-abortion rights?
BO: I think abortion is a human rights issue. It’s not a political issue. And I think that the way the United States and other countries deal with abortion is abominable.
HH: So do you think Roe V. Wade was wrongly decided?
HH: And so do you want it to be reversed?
BO: No, and I’ll tell you why.
HH: All right. That’s fine. No, I just want to get some basic questions out there, because I didn’t know that. Are you a proponent of same sex marriage, Bill O’Reilly?
BO: No. I believe that traditional marriage deserves…I believe that traditional marriage deserves a special place in America, and there’s no need to elevate any group. Because if you elevated gays to marriage, then you’d have to do polygamists, you’d have to do everybody under equal justice.
HH: Are you a gun owner?
BO: I do, yes.
HH: Okay. So you’re right there…you are a mix. Okay, that’s fine. You’re a mutt.
BO: I am basically trying to do what’s best for the country, and to try to put ideology aside. And that’s…in a problem solving situation, that’s the most effective deal.
HH: School vouchers?
BO: For them.
HH: Okay. Now tell me, which blogs do you read, Bill O’Reilly?
BO: I do not go on the internet to read that stuff.
HH: Powerline blog?
HH: Why not?
BO: Because I am so caught up in reading primary source material myself, that I just don’t have time.
HH: But there’s a lot of primary…well, we’ll come back. We’ll get to the L.A. Times. I’m just flabbergasted. You’re reading all the wrong stuff, Bill O’Reilly. But nevertheless, you’ve produced a great book, Culture Warrior.
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HH: Bill O’Reilly, remember the Trent Lott snafu, where he went to the Strom Thurmond 100th birthday party, and made the comments, and had to resign?
HH: Do you think that John Kerry will be given as much scrutiny as Trent Lott was then for the comments that John Kerry made yesterday?
HH: Why not?
BO: Well, because the press isn’t going to gun him. As we discussed earlier, the mainstream media will pooh-pooh it. The cable and bloggers will be all over him. But Kerry didn’t do himself any good. I mean, this is not a positive, no matter what he says. It’s just not.
HH: Now let’s get to the L.A. Times. On page 142, you write about John Carroll, a guy with whom I have crossed swords, as well as Michael Kinsley, Bob Scheer. What was the story you were going to tell us behind the precipitous decline?
BO: Here’s the behind the scenes deal. The L.A. Times took a tremendously sharp turn to the left about four years ago.
BO: And since that time, the paper’s circulation has collapsed.
BO: Losing hundreds of thousands. So the latest audit has them at 850,000, down from about a million fifty. But the real circulation…
HH: I actually believe it’s at 775,000 on a daily basis, but go ahead.
BO: But listen to this.
BO: The real circulation, depending…because we’ve been looking into the operation. The real circulation is about 400,000. That’s the paid circulation that is firm.
BO: Re-ups every month. The other 450,000 are special discounts, people that go in and out. They use different names to get the special discounts, the people that are given the paper gratis, this, that and the other thing. So their base is down to about 400,000.
HH: Can it be saved, do you think?
BO: I don’t, because Los Angeles is basically a wired town.
BO: You were talking about the internet before. And the only way that a newspaper can compete against the internet is to have features in the newspaper that people look forward to read that they can’t get on the net. Now that requires you…
HH: To have talent…
BO: …The L.A. Times’ strong suit are two sections: The sports section and Calendar.
BO: Calendar has evaporated, because they don’t have anybody covering entertainment that anybody cares about. Gone are the days when people turn to the L.A. Times to see what the new movie was going to be. The Sports section’s still pretty good, but you can’t run a newspaper on a sports section. So I don’t see any hope for the L.A. Times, even if they were to swing back to fair and balanced, which they won’t do, because they believe that they’ll stay alive just by catering to the West Side Angelinos, who want the liberal dose every day.
HH: I want to go, because we’re going to lose you here in two minutes, to page 86 of the new book, Culture Warrior. You’re talking about Nicholas Kristof, one of the people, I think, refuses the fair fight that you discuss. Kristof, the S.P. culture warrior, refused to comment after he slagged you. In fact, old Nick never did agree to debate me, you write. Instead, he went on the Bill Maher program, leveled some cheap shots my way. That’s a common S.P. tactic. Avoid face to face encounters. Snipe from afar. You’re absolutely right. Will that ever change? Will the market make them change?
BO: No, no. because these people live in a world, I call it cocktail party cred. All they care about is impressing their friends. And they know that they come on my program, they’re going to lose. And you know, I try to set an example. Like I know when I walk into the Letterman program, he’s going to attack me. I think that it makes him look like a schmo. But I’m not afraid of David Letterman. There’s nothing David Letterman can do or say that can affect me in any way, shape or form. So it’s a win for me. But these people know they’ll lose the debate on the merits. So all they do is take their cheap shots on Bill Maher and other programs. And so they can go out to their cocktail parties in Manhattan, and say oh, I really got that O’Reilly, ho, ho, ho. Because it’s all about their social life, Hugh.
HH: So if they had the ability to go toe to toe with a center-right, or an independent commentator, center-right being me…
BO: Did you see what I did to Paul Krugman on…
HH: Yeah, but that’s not fair. You should have been arrested.
HH: Now my question for you, as we’re going out the door here, Bill O’Reilly, do you ever expect, ever expect, the networks to recognize what Fox has done, and to stop sniping, and start giving credit for what Roger Ailes has invented, and maybe change their ways?
BO: No, because they are adamantly opposed to giving traditionalists a voice. It’s now an ideological struggle. It’s no longer a fair and free press in America. It’s an ideological struggle. And so I don’t expect in my lifetime to see any credit given to anybody, and I expect things to get worse.
HH: Last question. Will the Republicans hold the Senate and the House?
BO: No idea. I think there’s going to be a very low turnout. And the turnout is going to influence a lot of toe-holds…
HH: Could it go either way?
BO: Excuse me?
HH: Could it go either way?
BO: Sure it could.
HH: All right.
BO: But the low turnout is the key.
HH: Bill O’Reilly, I appreciate the time. Great new book, Culture Warrior, in stores everywhere. Bill, always a pleasure. Thanks for being on.
BO: Thank you, Hugh. Appreciate it.
End of interview.