Bill O'Reilly and Bernie Goldberg Debate Fox News and Conservative Bias

September 30th, 2009 11:10 AM

With each passing day the Fox News Channel and its various hosts come under more and more fire from the Left.

Democrats and their media minions have actually accused FNC of stirring up hatred in the nation that could result in violence against President Obama.

With this in mind, Fox's leading personality Bill O'Reilly on Tuesday invited media analyst and former CBSer Bernie Goldberg to discuss these criticisms of the cable news leader and to see if they had any merit.

What ensued was a marvelous discussion about what Fox does well compared to its liberal competitors, as well as what opportunities exist for even better news coverage.

Although Fox's detractors will jump on this segment as evidence the cable news network is indeed far too conservative given some of Goldberg's criticisms, those that can be impartial will see this as an organization refreshingly willing to examine itself while cameras are rolling (video embedded below the fold with transcript, h/t Mediaite, file photo):

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Weekdays with Bernie" segment tonight, lots going on, including a big loss for Dan Rather. So let's bring in FOX News analyst Bernie Goldberg, who is in North Carolina today.

I'm going to ask you the question that I asked Lanny and Leslie. I don't really think they answered very well.


O'REILLY: My opinion. My opinion. Never in the history of broadcasting in this country has one network, FOX News Channel, been attacked so relent -- unrelentingly, okay, as this one has. Why?

GOLDBERG: Three reasons, I think. The first one is that FOX is more conservative than any other major news organization.

But the second reason -- that would only come into play because of the second reason. You're successful. If you weren't successful, number one wouldn't matter.

And number three is FOX is provocative. And the combination of conservative, successful, and provocative creates an explosive mix where they come after you. We could talk about whether it's legitimate or not, because by and large I think it's not legitimate. I think by and large, they're throwing spit balls at a battleship. I think a lot of it is simply because as I say, you're conservative and successful.

I'll give you a couple of examples. You go out and do a story about judges who are soft on child molesters. And who does the media get angry at? The judges? No. They get angry at you.

O'REILLY: Right.

GOLDBERG: That's a little crazy.

O'REILLY: And we have one tomorrow, by the way. A new one tomorrow. Go ahead.

GOLDBERG: Right. You know, there are other examples like that, where FOX uncovers stories that the so-called mainstream media should be uncovering. So what does the so-called mainstream media do? They get angry at FOX.

This is wrong. This is the spit balls at the battleship argument. But sometimes Bill, and I -- whether you acknowledge it or not, I'm going to state it, sometimes FOX brings on the criticism itself. There are some programs on FOX that are not only fair and balanced, they're commentary shows. They don't have to be. But they brag about how fair and balanced they are. They don't cover rallies and tea parties. They cheer lead for rallies and tea parties. And as a journalist, I am totally against that.

O'REILLY: All right.

GOLDBERG: And to that extent, the criticism is legitimate. But by and large, it's not.

O'REILLY: The problem there, though is.

GOLDBERG: By and large, it's not.

O'REILLY: .that all editorial pages cheer lead for their crew. So if you read any newspaper, "The Chicago Tribune," "The Los Angeles Times," any newspaper in the country, they'll be cheerleading for global warming.


O'REILLY: And they'll be saying, hey, get out on Earth Day.


O'REILLY: Do this, do that.


O'REILLY: Okay, and I don't have any problem with that. Wait, wait, Bernie. Wait. I don't have any problem with get out on Earth Day and be environmentally correct. No problem. They all do it.

But if you then take a commentary program, clearly labeled as such, and then they say hey, you know, you tea party people, go on out there and show them that you don't like this big government intrusion. What's the difference between Earth Day and tea party? What's the difference?

GOLDBERG: Well, the difference, I don't want to get too.

O'REILLY: Come on, that's a good question, Bernie.


O'REILLY: What's the difference?

GOLDBERG: Here's a good answer. Don't pretend that you're being objective. Don't go on air, and I don't mean you, I mean others on this network. Don't go on the air and say these tea parties are a cross section of America. They are not a cross section. Don't pretend to be a journalist if you're not a journalist. If you want to be a commentator and comment.

O'REILLY: See, I don't - I disagree, look.

GOLDBERG: .be my guest. But don't pretend to be a journalist.

O'REILLY: I think we clearly label here - I think we clearly label at the FOX News Channel, this is a good discussion. Glenn Beck comes on. And Glenn Beck is now in the target. He's the big target. He's coming up later on in the program. So let's get Glenn Beck.

But what does Glenn Beck do? Glenn Beck comes on. And he basically says look, I'm every man. I'm not a journalist. He says he's not a journalist. I'm every man. And I'm worried about the country. And this is why I'm worried. And he has the blackboard and he has this. And this is who I like, tea party guys. And this is who I don't like, whoever Beck doesn't like that day.

GOLDBERG: Right, right.

O'REILLY: I don't see any subterfuge there at all.

GOLDBERG: Okay, I'll.

O'REILLY: Sean Hannity comes on right after "The Factor". And Sean Hannity says look, I'm a Reagan Republican. That's who I am. Sean Hannity. He's not trying to fool anybody. Not trying to say anything like that. He says I'm a Reagan Republican. So this is how I see the world. I mean, come on, Bernie, these are legitimate distances. Every man Reagan Republican. What's the beef?

GOLDBERG: No -- the commentary part of it is totally legitimate, but to give false information just because you're a commentator.

O'REILLY: If it's false.

GOLDBERG: .is unacceptable.

O'REILLY: If it's false information, I agree, but I haven't seen a lot of that.

GOLDBERG: Are you telling me -- wait a second. Are you telling me that you think those people at the tea parties were a cross section of America? There were as many liberal Democrats as conservatives? There are as many people who voted pro Obama as.

O'REILLY: I didn't here anybody say they wasn't liberal Democrats.

GOLDBERG: Oh, I did. I did. Do you want a few names?

O'REILLY: No, I don't.

GOLDBERG: Do you want a few names?

O'REILLY: Because then I have to go back and research it. But I said there weren't very many black people there.

GOLDBERG: Well, you don't have to research it. If I would go on your air and tell you a name, you can go to the bank on it. I'm not going to do it out of respect to you.

O'REILLY: Okay, that's wrong. And that's legitimate criticism.

GOLDBERG: Those people pretend, they pretend to be journalists at the same time that they're saying I'm not a journalist. Well, if you're not a journalist, don't pretend to be one.

O'REILLY: I don't know how you can.

GOLDBERG: Just give us your.

O'REILLY: Bernie, I don't know how you can pretend to be a journalist if you say you're not. I don't, I mean.

GOLDBERG: Because.

O'REILLY: .how do you do that?

GOLDBERG: .well, I just told you they go on the air, after they give their opinions, which is fine with me. They then state as facts things that aren't.

O'REILLY: Facts?

GOLDBERG: ..,facts at all.

O'REILLY: Okay, well fact -- that's legitimate and that should be criticized, but not personal attacks. Not trying to tear somebody's throat out. And that's what you get.

O'REILLY: I totally agree. I totally agree with that.

Exit question: how many news outlets are willing to do such a high-profile self-examination?

Reminds one of what Brit Hume used to say at the end of his "Special Report" newscasts: Fair, balanced, and unafraid.

Nice job, gentlemen. Interesting discussion.