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Wednesday, October 15, 2003  

The Last Five Minutes of Bill O'Reilly on "Fresh Air"

Oh, and to keep the fires warm, I'll leave you with this.

I pick up the transcript at about the 35-minute mark; the entire interview ran just over 40 minutes. On his own "Factor" website, O'Reilly quotes from some of the interview but not, as you'll see, verbatim. When the section he quotes picks up, I'll put into bold the excerpts from his page. I cleaned up his version slightly--it wasn't accurate--and the emphasis is all mine. But please, listen to the interview--I think you'll agree the emphasis was there. Have a good week; I'll see you on Tuesday the 21st.


TERRY GROSS: I'd actually like to ask you about something that pertains to something we were talking about earlier—book reviews? You know, we were talking about that Janet Maslin review of the Al Franken book and the things that you said about her? There was a review--I was just reading a review of your new book in People Magazine . Did you see this one?

BILL O'REILLY: I see 'em all.

GROSS: So the reviewer said--let me get this. . . Wouldn't you know it? I'm having trouble finding it now. Basically the reviewer said that after he reviewed your previous book, he tuned into your show and heard you ridiculing him

O'REILLY: Right, because he reviewed me, not the book.

GROSS: Uh-huh.

O'REILLY: This is a very, very, very well-known tactic. If you want to read reviews of my book, go to Publisher's Weekly or people who review the book, not me. See now it's easy for--and I see all the reviews of my book--most of them are good. Publisher's Weekly is a rave, all right? But the guys who are reviewing me--I'm going, "Why are you doing this?" We had one in the Denver Post the other day. Well this guy's reviewing me, not the book. And it's just another example of, "Look, we don't like him." And I understand if you don't like me. That's fine, that's entirely your opinion. But don't take your ire out on my product because you don't like me. I mean this guy makes no pretense that he can't stand me. He didn't in the first, he didn't in this. So what is that? You know, if it were me, I'd recuse myself. If Jesse Jackson writes a book, I'm not going to do a book review on him. I've been very hard on that man. I'm not going to review his book--that's not fair. So if these guys hate me, I'm not going to allow them to read the book. So if you want to know about the book, you can read those reviews, but read Publisher's Weekly--fair and balanced.

GROSS: Do you think that it might have a chilling effect on book reviewers to know that if you give them a bad review, you're going to be mocking them on your show?

O'REILLY: Depends on the review.

GROSS: Uh-huh.

O'REILLY: Depends on the review. If the guy reviews the book, not me, I'm not going to say anything. Because you know--they don't, they criticize my show all the time. And you have a perfect right to do that. You know, go ahead and do it, you know. Fine. I don't get on the show and go, "ohhhh, so and so doesn't like the fact . . . ." You know. You don't like the "Factor," you don't like the "Factor." But once you step out and say, all right, "I don't like him, and I'm gonna hammer whatever he does because I don't like him." That's just dishonest and I'm going to call you on it.

GROSS: I'll read what the People Magazine thing said--


GROSS: --and--

O'REILLY: Why read it? Why read it?

GROSS: Because I want to people to hear it.


GROSS: Because it--


GROSS: --you'll hear when I'm done.


GROSS: (Awkward laugh, inaudible.)

O'REILLY: You know, I'm getting the feeling in this interview, all right, that this is just a hatchet job on me. All right? And I don't like it. Now there's no reason for you to read that People Magazine review. If they want to read it, they can go and read it.

GROSS: No, but this isn't the review of the book--

O'REILLY: Now wait a minute. Hold it, hold it.

GROSS: --it isn't the review, it's how you handled it. And I think it's okay to ask you to be accountable for the things that you said.

O'REILLY: Accountable for what? You know, I came on this show, I came on to this program to talk about Who's Looking Out for You? And what you've done is thrown every kind of defamation you can in my face. All right, did you do this to Al Franken? Did you? Did you challenge him on what he said?

GROSS: We had a different interview.

O'REILLY: Yeah, a different interview. Okay. Fine, "Fresh Air?" Is this what "Fresh Air" is? I'll get a transcript of this interview--you want me--of the Al Franken interview. You want me to do that, and compare the two?

GROSS: You're welcome to.

O'REILLY: And compared it, too?

GROSS: You're welcome to.

O'REILLY: All right, why don't you tell your listeners right now? Were you as tough on Al Franken as you are on me?


O'REILLY: No. You weren't.

GROSS: No, I wasn't.

O'REILLY: Okay. Why!

GROSS: Well, Al Franken had written a book of political satire--

O'REILLY: Oh, he was satire now, was it?

GROSS: --and

O'REILLY: All right, calling people liars and distorting their faces on the book cover. That's satire now, is it? And my book, Who's Looking Out for You? is designed to help people to show them how they have to know how to read people in the society to succeed. Yet you're easy on Franken and you challenge me. This is NPR. Okay? I think we all know what this is. I think we all know where you're going with this.

GROSS: Well--

O'REILLY: Don't we!

GROSS: Well, you could say. . .

O'REILLY: Yes! Don't we?

GROSS: You can think whatever you want to.

O'REILLY: I am! I mean, I'm evaluating this interview very closely.

GROSS: Obviously you are.

O'REILLY: Now we've spent now, all right?

GROSS: Uh-huh.

O'REILLY: 50 minutes of me being -- defending defamation against me in every possible way, while you gave Al Franken a complete pass on his defamatory book. And if you think that's fair, Terry, then you need to get in another business. I'll tell you that right now. And I'll tell your listeners, if you have the courage to put this on the air, this is basically an unfair interview designed to try to trap me into saying something that Harpers can use. And you know it. And you should be ashamed of yourself. And that is the end of this interview.

GROSS: Oh, so you're not even going to give me the chance to ask a follow-up question? You have to make a speech and then have the last word? (Pause.) You're gone? Okay, I guess that's the answer to that question. (Laughing.) He's walked out. Okay, well my guest has been Bill O'Reilly and he does have a new book and that book is called Who's Looking Out for You? And I guess that's it for this interview.


Bonus material: the People Magazine text Bill wouldn't let Terry read:

"After I unfavorably reviewed the FoxNews Channel star's last book, I turned on the TV to find I was O'Reilly's "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day." The big guy said on the "O'Reilly Factor:" "Review the book, not me." Then, he called me a pinhead. Consistency isn't his best feature."
(Kyle Smith)

(And incidentally, after Terry's interview, she too made the "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day.")

posted by Jeff | 6:26 AM |
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