Fox News Network
SHOW: THE O'REILLY FACTOR (20:29)
April 12, 2004
Transcript # 041204cb.256
SECTION: News; Domestic
HEADLINE: Unresolved Problem
GUEST: Paul Levinson
BYLINE: Bill O'Reilly
SPEC: Politics; Media; 'New York Times'
INTERVIEW WITH DR. PAUL LEVINSON
PROFESSOR AND CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATION & MEDIA STUDIES
NEW YORK CITY
O'REILLY: "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight, more misleading reporting by the elite print press. Last week we told you that the front pages of some urban newspapers were misleading you. It wasn't an uprising in Iraq at all, it was an insurrection by a radical Shiite group that was put down in a couple of days.
Here's another, in today's "New York Times," an article by Anne Thompson puts forth that the success of "The Passion" is being generated by crazy right-wingers. Thompson says: "The movie had a movie star director will to spend his own money who understood how to target large numbers of well-organized church groups and political conservatives. He was able to deploy partisan news media pundits like Bill O'Reilly to appeal to his constituents to show their support by seeing the movie."
Ms. Thompson's statement is a flat out lie. I never recommended the film, I said it was too violent. I simply stated Gibson had a right to put it out without being branded anti-Semite. Thompson claims Gibson "deployed" me. I'd like to see some evidence of that, madam. What a crock.
One more. You may remember a bunch of dishonest reporters and character assassins telling you I lied about my upbringing about living in Levittown, New York. Yesterday I came across this at my mother's house. It is the deed to the house where I was raised in Levittown. You see the words Levittown, New York. So I guess I will be getting apologies from "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," NPR and all of the others who call me a liar. With us now, Dr. Paul Levinson, who teaches media studies at Fordham University.
Does this stuff bother you?
PAUL LEVINSON PH.D., FORDHAM UNIV.: Not as much as it bothers you. I think the difference between a revolution, an uprising and an insurgency is really very minor. I could see being upset if "The New York Times" made up a story that there were military activities going on and nothing was happening.
O'REILLY: Well, all right. Let's walk through it again. The impression "The New York Times," "The Washington Post" and "The L.A. Times" gave last week was that there was a general uprising across the country that was popular driven. The word "uprising" is "localized act of popular violence." There was no popular violence, as Mr. Talabani stated at the top of the program. It was generated by a minority helped by Iran that wants a totalitarian regime. So you don't think that's a distortion?
LEVINSON: I don't know what happened there. For all I know, there was a much worse situation and our military put it down. What I'm saying is the difference between an insurgency and an uprising is really very minor.
O'REILLY: You don't see the difference between a popular uprising of all the people in the country, like Berlin, throwing them out, and a small segment of Shiites causing trouble? You don't see the difference?
LEVINSON: "The New York Times" didn't say all the people in the country. They said there was a popular uprising.
O'REILLY: And it wasn't. And it couldn't have possibly been put down in two days.
LEVINSON: With the wisdom of hindsight it wasn't.
O'REILLY: Let's go -- the wisdom -- I said it right there it wasn't, because our guys are telling it what it was. Although, to be fair, some FOX people have used the word uprising, unfortunately. "The Passion," for a year "The New York Times" has been trying to ban this movie, now the most successful film financially of all time. They are still trying to tell you it is a bunch of right wing religious fanatics going to see it. Not true. All right? And that Gibson now has enlisted me to try to get my viewers out to see the movie. Flat out a lie this Anne Thompson, flat out untrue. Does it disturb you?
LEVINSON: Well, I read the article you are talking about. And it seems the word "deploy" is the word that you are upset about. And I'm willing to agree that it is probably not the most apt word but it is not impossible that Gibson had in mind the fact that you would give the movie coverage...
O'REILLY: ... as a journalist don't you have to prove that or have some evidence to that?
LEVINSON: Well, that wasn't a hard news story. It appeared in the Arts Section....
O'REILLY:Wasn't a hard news story?
LEVINSON: Yes, well, it is subject to interpretation. It was an analysis of the success of Gibson's movie.
O'REILLY: You don't teach your students this kind of rationalization, tortured logic, do you? You teach them to be accurate and to use language carefully, do you not you, Professor?
LEVINSON: Sure. I teach my students how to think critically, and not to accept...
O'REILLY: Then why are you sticking up for this newspaper here who distorts things on purpose all day long?
LEVINSON: I don't know if they distort things on purpose. I think the media are inexact. Thomas Jefferson recognized this back in 1800. He said not only is yesterday's news fit to wrap fish in, so is most of today's...
O'REILLY: Well, I have given you two -- "The Passion of the Christ," a giant cultural works story, Iraq, the most important story. And I've given you two solid examples of how "The New York Times" distorts on purpose their coverage and it doesn't bother you. That frightens me.
LEVINSON: Why do you say "on purpose?"
O'REILLY: Because they have an agenda, they hate "The Passion," they hate the movie.
LEVINSON: Well, you know that better than I do.
O'REILLY: You bet I do.
LEVINSON: I don't know what their agenda is. I agree that they are not perfect. No medium is perfect. You just admitted that FOX News used the word "uprising."
O'REILLY: That's right. And they should...
LEVINSON: So that is the point...
O'REILLY: But that was done inadvertently. This is done on purpose.
LEVINSON: What proof do you have that they have an agenda?
O'REILLY:I have proof of the articles that have been written in a year.
O'REILLY:Professor, we appreciate it much. Thanks for coming in and
giving another point of view. When we come right back, Dick Morris on
whether President Bush can mount a comeback, in a moment.
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