Fox News Network
SHOW: THE O'REILLY FACTOR (20:49)
January 23, 2004 Friday
Transcript # 012306cb.256
SECTION: News; Domestic
LENGTH: 954 words
HEADLINE: Back of the Book
GUESTS: Paul Levinson
BYLINE: Bill O'Reilly
INTERVIEW WITH DR. PAUL LEVINSON
PROFESSOR AND CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATION & MEDIA STUDIES
NEW YORK CITY
O'REILLY: In the "Back of the Book" Segment tonight, everybody makes mistakes. Certainly, I lead the league in that category, but I must confess I've never stripped in public. A riot would have ensued, and I don't want to be responsible for that.
In Key West, Florida, a young newswoman named Catherine Bosley entered a wet T-shirt contest. The problem is Ms. Bosley was also anchoring the news at a CBS station in Youngstown, Ohio, which promptly accepted her resignation upon evidence of her frivolity.
With us now is Paul Levinson, chairman of the Fordham University Department of Communications Study.
Now you think they shouldn't have let her go here?
PAUL LEVINSON, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: No. People are entitled to have private lives, and journalists are people.
O'REILLY: Private lives?
LEVINSON: Yes. I mean she should be fired if she failed to do something in performance of her profession. Cavorting in a bar late at night has nothing to do with that.
O'REILLY: All right. It's true in theory, but let's be realistic. Politicians, news people, clergy all have images, and all depend on the trust of the public to succeed.
So we have a young woman here who -- anchoring the news, and her pictures are all over the Internet. Everybody in Youngstown, Ohio, can access them if they want to, and everything they see now in their mind zeros off those pictures.
So it intrudes on her ability to communicate the news, does it not?
LEVINSON: Well, I don't think so. I -- you know, I think if you look at politicians, as you mentioned, JFK had a very promiscuous life.
O’REILLY: : Nobody knew it at the time.
LEVINSON: Right. Richard Nixon led a very circumspect life.
O’REILLY: : Not promiscuous.
LEVINSON: Exactly. So who was the better president?
O’REILLY: : It doesn't matter.
LEVINSON: Well, exactly -- well, is -- it doesn't matter, indeed, because...
O’REILLY: : No, it...
LEVINSON: ... what matters is their professional performance, what they did as president...
O’REILLY: : Look...
LEVINSON: As far as this woman is concerned in Youngstown, what kind of a newscaster is she? That's the significant issue.
O’REILLY: : But the -- but the...
LEVINSON: Was she...
O’REILLY: : ... station has an obligation to put on people who are going to bolster their news image. This woman, in a community like that particularly, but in -- I think in any city in the USA, becomes a joke, and, therefore, the station becomes a joke, and you can't be a joke if you want to compete in the news area.
LEVINSON: I think people are more adult than that. I think people appreciate...
O’REILLY: : Oh, man. Come on.
LEVINSON: ... newscasters who are truthful...
O’REILLY: : ... Professor.
LEVINSON: Yes. I mean, you know, we're not 6-year-old children who Basically -- you know, if we find out that someone does something ridiculous, we can't take them seriously.
O’REILLY: : You're living in -- you're living in a theoretical world of oz here. Are you aware that in every newscaster's contract, there's a moral clause that says, if you embarrass the station publicly in any way, they can let you go. Why do you think that's in there?
LEVINSON: It's a foolish clause. I think -- look, should you be judged on what you do in your private life? I think you should be judged on how you conduct this program.
O’REILLY: : It depends...
O’REILLY: : This isn't her private life, though. Once...
O’REILLY: : ... you go public and do something like that, although it's not illegal, it embarrasses your employer because your employer operates on credibility.
Now, if she were behind the scenes, say she were a producer, then it really wouldn't matter. Nobody would know. I mean -- but she is representing the station, and she's naked in some sleazy bar in Key West. Come on.
LEVINSON: Well, it's embarrassing to her employer only because...
O’REILLY: : Yes.
LEVINSON: ... her employer allows itself to be embarrassed.
Look, I mean, what's so embarrassing about the human body anyway? It's not as if she committed a crime.
O’REILLY: : Are you sure you teach at Fordham?
O’REILLY: : Are you sure you're up there with the priests up -- I -- you know, I -- Professor, I mean, theoretically, sure, in a perfect world, we could all be naked doing the news, but that is not what news people are here to do. If Peter Jennings or Tom Brokaw or -- streaked down the Avenue of the Americas here, they're going to be fired, and you're saying they shouldn't be. Come on.
LEVINSON: Well, here's the point. Jayson Blair wrote stories for "The New York Times" over two years that were filled with lies...
O’REILLY: : Fake.
LEVINSON: ... and plagiarism. It took the "Times" two years to fire him. That's something that should be far more serious...
O’REILLY: : I think it is.
LEVINSON: Well, exactly.
O’REILLY: : This woman...
LEVINSON: ... because we have to focus on the way people perform...
O’REILLY: : You can't allow this woman to continue, though.
LEVINSON: ... professionally. Well...
O’REILLY: : You couldn't.
LEVINSON: ... I -- I don't know.
O’REILLY: : No way.
LEVINSON: I've never seen her on the air. Maybe she's...
O’REILLY: : Maybe -- take a year off. Maybe comes back, but those pictures are going to haunt her. And you know what? Every young person watching, remember this, that will haunt you in every thing you do. Don't do it. That's...
LEVINSON: I think we'll probably see her on Fox News in six months.
O’REILLY: : No. We'll probably see her in -- "The Bachelorette" is where we're going to see her. We're not going to see her on Fox, believe me.
Thank you, Professor.
You are visitor number 670