Bill Press vs Bill O'Reilly (The Transcript)
Press Exposes O'Reilly as The King of Spin


11-30-2001, This is a transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, it has not been edited in any way. I have added a few comments in a few places where it says NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER: but I did not edit one word from the orginal transcript.

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly. In the second Personal Story segment tonight, the November cable news ratings are in. And Fox News' primetime line-up is well ahead of CNN. This has surprised some media analysts because CNN has dominated war coverage in the past with their worldwide resources. And Fox News is only five years old.

With us now from Washington is Bill Press, one of the hosts of the CNN program Crossfire. Mr. Press has written a new book called Spin This. In that book, he is none too friendly to your humble correspondent, me. Here's a quote.

"In the aftermath of the Marc Rich pardon, the ever so pompous Bill O'Reilly blasted President Bush for suggesting there were more important issues facing the country than continuing to talk about Bill Clinton.

What Mr. O'Reilly was really saying, of course, is don't try to stop me from talking about Bill Clinton because that's all I know how to talk about. Actually, O'Reilly deserves a special spin award for opening his ever so predictable nightly TV program with the warning 'caution, you're about to enter a no-spin zone.' He's just published a book called The No-Spin Zone. It should be called "The Nothing but Spin Zone."

Wow, I guess we're really terrible, huh, Bill?

BILL PRESS, CO-HOST, CROSSFIRE: Good evening, Bill O'Reilly. How are you?

O'REILLY: I'm all right.

PRESS: I wouldn't say you're so terrible. My point is simply that I think you should be honest and admit that we all spin. And you spin as much as I do or Bob Novak does or any of the other...

O'REILLY: I want you to give me one, since you're concentrated in your book on The Factor, somewhat, give me one example of how I've spun a new story, one?

PRESS: Well, first of all, I do have to say in all honesty that my pages about you, I think, maybe there are three pages in a 220-page book. So I don't...

O'REILLY: All right, I mean, just give me one example?

PRESS: I'll give you one example. I thought that when you had Donna Brazille on last June and you told her Donna Brazille, not tongue and cheek, I think very seriously, that if Al Gore had only appeared on The Factor, The Factor has so many viewers in Florida, that Al Gore would be President of the United States.

Now, Mr. O'Reilly, you have to agree that's just -- it's not a lie, it's not the truth, either. It's just spin.

O'REILLY: It's not spin, it's an opinion. And it was based upon the fact that he lost by 500-plus votes. If he acquitted himself well, there were enough independents in Florida who watch this broadcast, who may have voted for Al Gore. That's simple opinion. There's nothing spinning about it. You give opinion. I give opinion. Has nothing to do with spin. Can you give me one example where I've taken a news story and spun it in a way that's not been truthful? Can you give me one?

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER: Spin is done in lots of ways, you can spin things by not reporting stories as much as you can by reporting them. Story selection is spin, if you only cover stories that are positive to the republicans and Bush that is spin. If you ignore negative stories about the republicans and Bush that is spin. If you only report negative stories about democrats that is spin. If you cover a topic like "How is Bush doing as President" then only invite a republican on to discuss it that is spin. If you cover a story about drilling in ANWR and use a biased one sided 11 year old study done by the oil companies as your source that is spin.

If you cover a political issue and have one democrat and one republican then the host is also a republican thats a 2 on 1 and unfair unless the host stays out of it. Otherwise it's a biased one sided debate where the democrat hardly gets a word in and the democrat has to argue with 2 republicans. That is also spin, you are spinning the facts to fit your views and representing that as how all the people feel. Spin comes in many, many, ways and o'reilly uses all of them. Bill O'Reilly is the real king of spin not James Carville. To claim spin is only defined in one specific way is just more spin !

PRESS: Well, first of all, I do think that is spin. I think opinion is spin. I think commentary is spin, which you do every night. And by the way...

O'REILLY: That's ridiculous.

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER: It's true o'reilly, to not admit it is yet more spin. If you read a news story then do a report of that story on your show and give your opinion about that story it's your spin on the original story because you changed the way the story was actually reported. It's called spin.

PRESS: By the way, I'm not saying you're doing anything wrong.

O'REILLY: No, it's ridiculous. Commentary and opinion is not spin. What spin is, is taking a set of circumstances, all right, and taking that circumstance and making it not what it is.

For example, James Carville is the king of spin. And he will take a President Clinton perjury situation and say it wasn't really perjury because it was only about sex. And everybody lies about sex. So therefore, it isn't perjury. That's spin. Not giving an opinion. Opinion has nothing to do with spin. So you don't know, you just don't know.

PRESS: No, wait a minute. Let me just respectfully disagree. I mean, I started doing television commentary in 1980 in Los Angeles. I did television commentary in Los Angeles on the news for 15 years. And you know what commentary is? You lay out the facts and then you give your spin on the facts. That's what commentary is.

O'REILLY: No, you don't.

PRESS: It's nothing wrong. You do it for...

O'REILLY: Now I know -- all right, now I got it.

PRESS: All I'm saying is, that's...

O'REILLY: Now I know why you're confused about The Factor.

PRESS: I'm not confused at all.

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER: I am not confused by the Factor either Bill. Why is it when someone disagrees with you they are confused ? I watch your show every night and I agree with Mr. Press 100% am I confused too ? Is everyone who agrees with Mr. Press confused ? If 50 million people agree with Mr. Press are they confused ?

O'REILLY: Spin is not -- yes, you are. You're absolutely confused about what we do here. Everything that we do here is based upon fact. All right? We don't go into the lotus land of it's only about sex. All votes should count. We don't go into that lotus land at all.

We tell you what reality is. For example, in the Red Cross situation, the United Way situation, we tell you what the facts are, all right? And then we say, here is the good guy. Here's the bad guy. Now in your book, you make me out to be a conservative idealogue, OK, which is foolish. It's not true and you know it, can you back that up at all?

PRESS: Yes. I think anybody watching your show knows that you're a conservative. I'd submit if you weren't a conservative, you wouldn't have an hour on the Fox TV network.

O'REILLY: That's nuts. How can you back that up? Is Neil Cavuto a conservative?

PRESS: I think you ought to be honest about who are.

O'REILLY: Hold it.

PRESS: Now, so I want to come back...

O'REILLY: Wait a minute. I'm running this operation, Bill.

PRESS: But you asked me.

O'REILLY: No, I'm going to ask you a definite question. Paula Zahn a conservative? Is she conservative?

PRESS: Paul Zahn is now on CNN. Did you know that?

O'REILLY: All right, she had an hour program. And you just said if I wasn't a conservative, I wouldn't have an hour on the Fox News channel. Another absurd statement. Paula Zahn was not a conservative. She had an hour. Neil Cavuto has an hour. He's not a conservative. John Gibson, I don't know what he is. Come on. You make these statements. They're absolutely false and then you just kind of dance around them.

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER: Hey Bill remember the no spin thing, Fox fired Paula Zahn because she was not conservative enough just as they did to catherine crier. You dont know what gibson is ? I do and gibson knows, he is a republican. He has admitted it. Do you ever watch his show or talk to him ? Bill you are not only spinning with this talk you are a liar when you say you dont know what gibson is. If cavuto is not a conservative I am not a human. He is clearly a conservative. Mr. Press is not doing the dancing, you are o'reilly, fox news had a couple moderate conservatives and they were all fired for being too liberal for you guys at fox. Colmes is the only one left and he is just the butt boy for hannity who hardly ever gets a word in and he is not a real democrat he is a bordeline moderate democrat.

PRESS: No, no, no. This is what you typically do. You talk all the time. You never let anybody else get a word in. And then you throw out these things which are simply not true. There is a difference, as all of your viewers know, and as I know, between people like you and me who are commentators, who are pundits, who are paid to have an opinion.

And then there are those people who are newscasters. You're right. I don't know what John Gibson's politics are.

O'REILLY: Yes, but he's a pundit.

PRESS: I don't know what Judy Woodruff's are, I don't know what Paula Zahn's are. But I know what yours are because I watch the show. OK?

O'REILLY: No, you think you know.

PRESS: And you know what mine are because you watch Crossfire.

O'REILLY: All right, let me ask you another simple question.

PRESS: Now do you want this example or not?

O'REILLY: I want a specific example of my conservatism.

PRESS: OK. I'm going to give you an example of your conservative spin. OK? Here's how you opened the show on March the 3rd, this year. "Tonight, violent demonstrations on the rise all over the world as capitalism comes under assault and America's college campuses are being besieged with socialistic messages. We'll have a report. The first 100 days of Hillary Clinton in the Senate. Did she actually do anything? We'll find out. And was Al Gore antagonistic toward some of his students at Columbia? That's the word. Caution. You're about to enter a no-spin zone."

O'REILLY: Right.

PRESS: Now I just find that very funny. That's full of spin. That's nothing...

O'REILLY: Those are teases with question marks on them. Those are teases with question marks on them.

PRESS: Bill, be honest.

O'REILLY: I am being honest.

PRESS: You spin each of those things to the right, the way you see them, and then you call it no spin.

O'REILLY: All right, look.

PRESS: Come on, it doesn't lie.

O'REILLY: If we were that bad, if the The O'Reilly Factor was all spin all the time, as you say, why are we crushing your program? I mean, we are absolutely crushing Crossfire. Last night, 28, O'Reilly Factor, 12, Crossfire. We're wiping you off the map. If I was that dishonest, and that's spinful, why is that happening?

PRESS: Look, you have a good show. Congratulations if you do well. And you know what? I hope you do even better. All I'm saying is, I'm not at competition with you. We're not on at the same time.

O'REILLY: Yes, you are.

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER: Wrong, Bill O'Reilly of the total spin zone, Crossfire is on from 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm CST. The O'Reilly Factor is on from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm CST. Bill O'Reilly you have just been caught spinning and telling lies again to the american people. Crossfire and the o'reilly factor are not even on at the same time and you said they are. Go buy a tv guide for gods sake and look it up if you dont believe it. Or just watch tv some time, You are a liar and you are a spinner. Crossfire is a whole different show, for one it's really fair and balanced not like the factor which is unfair and unbalanced. 2nd they have a democrat and a republican, each one gets to voice their side of the issues, it's called fair and balanced journalism.

The factor has Bill O'Reilly (a conservative) who spins everything to the right with almost no opposing viewpoint. O'Reilly stacks the deck with conservative guests who shout down the democratic guests (the few they even let on) then if they stick up to Bill and tell the truth they are never invited back. Bill rarely has real democrats on to debate him, they are mostly moderates, he is afraid of real democrats.

PRESS: I'm not jealous of you. All I'm saying is, you ought to be just honest with the people.

O'REILLY: All right, if I'm dishonest with the people and I'm a spinmeister, why are they watching this program?

PRESS: Well, here's my theory about that. It's the same reason that Rush is number one in radio, followed closely by Dr. Laura. It's the same reason, I think, Fox is doing so well. I think there are a lot of conservatives out there who don't want to hear two points of view. All they want to hear, if you'll let me finish...

O'REILLY: OK, we got four seconds.

PRESS: Well, I'll do it in four seconds. They want to hear people that they always agree with because they're very intolerant. So your numbers are very high. So are Rush's. So are Dr. Laura's, mazel tov. But it's all spin.

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER: Mr. Press you just hit the nail right on the head, they dont want to hear from anyone that disagrees with them.

O'REILLY: Bologna. We'll be back in a minute.

PRESS: No, spin.

O'REILLY: Bologna, Mr. Press. We'll see you.

PRESS: All right, thanks, Bill.

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER: Then after the commercial break o'reilly spent about a minute attacking Mr. Press after he was gone and was not there to defend himself. This is shameful and not journalism. O'Reilly said "see there I just had Bill Press a known liberal on my show" that proves I am fair. Then o'reilly said you can bet I will never be on Crossfire, impling that CNN is not fair and balanced like he is and fox news is.

Hold on while I laugh my ass off..........

Then on the next night o'reilly did the whole talking points about Mr. Press when Mr. Press never said one word about o'reilly on crossfire.

Here is a copy of those talking points about Mr. Press:

Facing the Facts
Friday, November 30, 2001
By Bill O'Reilly

Facing the facts is the subject of this evening's Talking Points memo. Leonard Gawlick, who lives in Buena Park, California, e-mailed me. "O'Reilly, was it me, or did Bill Press get your goat last night?"

Well, he did get my goat, Mr. Gawlick, and I hope that goat gives him a good swift kick. That interview with Mr. Press, the liberal guy on CNN's Crossfire, was one of those rare moments on television when the truth rises up like a grizzly bear and lets out a tremendous roar. Bill Press flat-out believes that all opinion and commentary is spin, that any expressed belief is relative, that there is no fact-based opinion there is irrefutable.

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER: O'Reilly is spinning and telling lies again, Mr. Press did not mean ALL commentary and opinion is spin only some of it when a partisan does it. When a partisan comments or gives opinions there is almost always some type of spin on it. Those are the facts. O'Reilly is twisting his words around and spinning what he actually meant. I watched the show 2 times and have the transcript and that is not what Mr. Press meant. Go read your own transcript Bill.

Mr. Press said that on the Fox News Channel, and he said that we are shills for the right wing. And everything that is done here can be dismissed as conservative spinning.

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER: Maybe not all, I would say 90% of fox news is conservative spin. You are all clearly shills for the right-wing.

Now, I understand what a hard-core ideologue Bill Press is, but that opinion, and he sincerely believes it, is so misguided and intellectually dangerous it makes me boil.

What Bill Press and others like him do is to attempt to diminish anyone who does not think the way they do. I've always said it is perfectly fine to be a conservative or a liberal if you are able to keep an open mind about the facts of a situation, if you allow yourself the freedom to be persuaded by a logical fact-based argument.

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER: The same can be said for you and guys like sean hannity and john gibson and tom delay and trent lott etc. etc.

Americans both on the left and the right who do not do that are not advancing the cause of freedom. The scary thing is that there are legions of Bill Presses in the national media. Almost every time an article is written about me, I see the words "conservative," or "combative," or "acerbic" in front of my name. That's code for, Hey, you don't have to take this guy seriously.

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER: Legions of Bill Presses ? Where ? The media is 80% conservative. Where are the Bill Presses on radio ? There are none. Where are the Bill Presses on tv ? They are few and far between. Bill you are sinning again, the media today is mostly conservative.

On Tuesday, we presented a story that said Senator Hillary Clinton has not attended any of the funerals of everyday victims of 9/11. The critical mail poured in. You don't like Hillary, they wailed, leave her alone.

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER: Have any other politicans attended any of those funerals ? Why attack only hilary ? Should a senator who works in washington be attending funerals from people she dont know in new york ? Maybe they dont want her at the funeral ? Hve any republican senators or congressman attended any funerals ? Does she have time to attend funerals ? Get the point Bill ?

Nobody challenged the accuracy of the story. Same thing happened with Jesse Jackson when we presented evidence that he has used nonprofit money for his personal needs. Story's not being disputed, but some supporters of Jackson dismiss the situation simply because they don't like hearing about it.

Bill Press fosters that kind of narrow thinking because nothing is definite for him, everything is spin. There are no facts, no right and wrong. It's all how we should feel, not what we should know.

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER: Thats just garbage, You should be thrown off tv for spewing these lies. Bill Press does not think that way at all, he said you and fox news are spinners not everyone and everything. Guess what ? He is right.

At the end of The No Spin Zone book, I list my positions on a variety of different issues and ask the reader to try and put a label on me. It's an interesting exercise. But I'll tell you one thing, The Factor has become an enormous success on television by holding all the powerful people in this country accountable for what they do. Nobody skates. Just ask George Pataki or Tom DeLay about my right-wing sympathies. You'll get a big laugh from them.

What Bill Press will never understand, and the reason he will never win in TV news, is that most Americans are fair people, and they think for themselves. They despise the ideological spin that Press embraces. Most Americans are ready for a no spin zone, and now they've got one.

And that's the memo.

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER:

That is the biggest piece of garbage right-wing spin I have ever seen. YOU ARE A CONSERVATIVE Bill AND YOU SPIN ALMOST EVERYTHING TO THE RIGHT. You (Bill O'Reilly) are the king of spin, you think if you deny it enough times someone might believe you. NOT ! There are 100 stories about you and the factor and fox news on the internet and every single one of them says you are a conservative. Is everyone wrong but you ? Anyone who watches your show 2 or 3 times can clearly tell you are a conservative. Guess what Bill, you are not winning tv news, you have an isolated number of conservatives who watch your show. You have around a million viewers, maybe slightly more than a million. There are 300 million people in the USA, if less than 1/10th of 1% of the population watch your show how are you winning in tv news ?

Nobody is watching your show except people who agree with you, how is that winning the tv news game ? You attack everything not conservative then claim to not be a conservative ? This is not only spin it's a flat out Lie.