'We Are Both Singled Out'

J$P Instant Transcript! Bill O'Reilly joins Geraldo to discuss Michael Jackson--and each other.

From At Large with Geraldo Rivera, February 19 2005:

GERALDO RIVERA [FOX NEWS]: What you just saw was a part of a spirited exchange on The O'Reilly Factor last week in which the host of the program, my pal Bill O'Reilly, was exceptionally animated in both criticizing my public stand on the Michael Jackson case, and in advising me that pursuing that pro-Jackson angle would result in some peril, if not to my career then at least to my rep as a journalist. Our discussion generated such interest we thought we'd pursue it further. Round two. So why didn't you counsel me against taking a stand on O.J. Simpson or Scott Peterson, for example?

BILL O'REILLY [FOX NEWS]: Well in the sense that you followed the case during the trial, I don't have any problem. You're a lawyer, you can analyze the evidence on a nightly basis. And that's what you did on the O.J. Simpson, all right? Here you're out ahead of it. Here, before the trial even begins, you're saying the guy's not guilty in your opinion. Geraldo Rivera, journalist-lawyer, He's Not Guilty. Now, you're entitled to your opinion, but I think it just puts you in jeopardy if the prosecution comes in--

RIVERA: But wait a minute, that's the second time you've used that word. What do you mean by jeopardy?

O'REILLY: Well say the prosecution comes in with corroborating evidence to back it up and it's a slam dunk, he's guilty. Which could happen, it absolutely could happen. And there you are, sitting out there, and people are going, geez, Rivera told me six months ago, this guy was clean, he didn't do it. Where are you?

RIVERA: Aren't you concerned with this title wave of anti-Jackson kind of promotion--

O'REILLY: Yes. I think it's horrible. It's awful.

RIVERA: --Martin Bashir's documentary, Thursday night on PrimeTime--

O'REILLY: I feel very very bad for his family. I don't think that they should be treated this way. I think that the press is exploiting this for money. I think all of those things were valid. But if I were you, as a lawyer and a journalist, I would say: I think, I think, from what I can see now. But I would couch it, rather than saying, not guilty, this is a frame.

RIVERA: Well I think that with all due respect you simplify my position somewhat--

O'REILLY: That's the perception.

RIVERA: --as you sometimes do to make a point in a debate.

O'REILLY: That may be true, but that's the perception.

RIVERA: But my point is, when you weigh--and I don't want to litigate the case here with you--my basic frustration is that if it were not Michael Jackson, this bundle of evidence and the facts and circumstances surrounding the bringing of these charges, would have resulted in an entirely different reaction by the public.

O'REILLY: Maybe.

RIVERA: But it's Jackson's bizarre nature and his unpopularity that I think generates that kind of passion in you, Bill.

O'REILLY: You see, I don't see it the same way. I think it's Jackson himself who's self-destructive.

RIVERA: That may be.

O'REILLY: I think Jackson is a self-destructive individual. So you can't blame--

RIVERA: Or at least a naive, maybe a naive--

O'REILLY: No I don't think he's naive. You can't blame the folks, all right? When the folks see a pattern of behavior over a decade, longer now, of a guy who's not doing what responsible adults do. Responsible adults do not hang around children that aren't theirs. They don't, OK? No one does that. He does. Even after he gets in trouble, and even after he pays millions of dollars to settle whatever was an embarrassing situation, didn't learn his lesson. So anyone is going to say, this guy is putting himself in jeopardy. Now, it may be true he didn't do it. And I think we all as good Americans have to give him the presumption of innocence. That's a cornerstone. But this man is a self-destructive man, and the fact that he's back in the same situation is his fault.

RIVERA: Wouldn't you think it right to use that same tone and the same passion to criticize a District Attorney who charges the largest bail in the county's history?

O'REILLY: Not yet.

RIVERA: Who spends more money than the county has ever spent on any investigation?

O'REILLY: Not yet. Not yet.

RIVERA: Who has become personally involved in this investigation in a way unprecedented, extraordinary for a District Attorney in a jurisdiction of this size?

O'REILLY: I'm going to give him the presumption of innocence that he's looking out for the kids, and is so outraged by what he believes to be true, that he's brought a passionate prosecution. However, if it's true, if what you believe it true, that he's got nothing but a he said, she said, and it becomes quite apparent quickly, which it will with the coverage, then I'm--hang him.

RIVERA: But where is the downside to me, personally? That's what gave me the willies when we spoke. It was really creepy because I went home--

O'REILLY: I'm looking out for you, man.

RIVERA: --I appreciate that. I look out for you in our strange Odd Couple way.

O'REILLY: All right, this is going to be an interesting exchange. You competed against me early on on the Fox News Channel over at CNBC with Geraldo Out of Control or whatever the name of that show was.

RIVERA: [Laughs] Rivera Live. I'm going to tip this table up already.

O'REILLY: Geraldo Something. And I kicked your butt in the ratings, all right?

RIVERA: Get out of here.

O'REILLY: I kicked your butt.

RIVERA: You appealed to a narrow, ideological slice of the audience that was very motivated to watch.

O'REILLY: All right, fine, you can say whatever you want.

RIVERA: No, you do a good show, Bill.

O'REILLY: The numbers were for me, rising. And Geraldo Out of Control, falling.

RIVERA: I had the highest-rated program on CBNC. Bill enjoyed the rising tide of Fox News, but go ahead.

O'REILLY: We kicked your butt, and the reason we did was because you got emotionally involved with Clinton. You got emotionally involved with him. And you brought such a passion to Clinton's defense, with the same old--

RIVERA: I helped save Clinton.

O'REILLY: Well maybe you did. But at the same time, the audience got a little, whoa. All right? And that's what I don't want to happen here.

RIVERA: I disagree with the premise. Clinton for CNBC was a time of great success. And I've always been passionately involved. And I submit to you, Clinton aside, and I think we can debate the Clinton issue, I submit to you what is different here is the bizarre nature of the person accused and his unpopularity.

O'REILLY: But it's the same--

RIVERA: Hold it, Bill. I submit to your further that if it were popular to defend Michael Jackson, you would be shoulder to shoulder with him.

O'REILLY: Nah, that's wrong. You know me better than that. I don't ever take a popular stand; I always take the stand that I believe in, and so do you. See, the thing that I like about you, and the thing that America needs to know about Rivera, is Rivera's not a phony. You're not a phony. You believed Clinton was being railroaded, and you believe Jackson's being railroaded. But I'm saying to you, you get overemotionally involved with this, that you need to step back--

RIVERA: OK, counselor.

O'REILLY: --and say I think it's happening, I think it's happening, but leave a little room. And the anti-Clinton forces turned on you, because you stuck up for him so much, and they came to me. And I benefitted from that. I benefitted from that.

RIVERA: I agree. I agree. And that's the schism that exists to this very day, although I think that now that you and I are on the same team, we're bringing a broader cross-section of the audience to the party.

O'REILLY: Oh there's not question about that.

RIVERA: And we are both in our way singled out by an industry that--

O'REILLY: Awful.

RIVERA: --that applauds lemmings rather than individuals.

O'REILLY: We're both crusaders. We're both crusaders, and we both look out for kids, all right? And we both take a very very emotional angle to our reporting, our reportage, unlike the gray men over at the networks. And you know what's happening to them, now. They're getting murdered. So our emotion works for us with the audience, but it also can put us in jeopardy. And see, when I get a case that I really feel strongly about, I always say I think, I don't know. Here you're saying, he's getting railroaded. Just put the word think in front of it.

RIVERA: I think that--

O'REILLY: There you go!

RIVERA: Michael Jackson [unintelligible], all right, you spoke about crusades. You're going out to L.A. Let me give you a minute to tell us what you intend going there for--

O'REILLY: Well, we've got a couple of big interviews out there.

RIVERA: --and do you have a preconceived notion of what Hollywood is, like the Hollywood vs America documentary that airs--

O'REILLY: I know Hollywood pretty well. I know Hollywood pretty well. I don't think it's as evil as some Americans think it is. But I do think there's a group-think out there. And I think there's a fear that if you don't think the way Steven Spielberg does, or Tom Hanks, or George Clooney, you're not going to work. And I know that's in play. I know that, because a lot of people come up to me--

RIVERA: Oh come on, you've got Mel Gibson, the biggest movie of the year--

O'REILLY: Yeah, but Mel Gibson got thrashed personally for what he did. And it was painful for him personally; I know that. But next week we've got Clint Eastwood coming on to talk about the euthanasia controversy in Million Dollar Baby. We've got Sylvester Stallone to talk about fame--Stallone had a really up and down career. We got a lot of good things, an investigation, why is California 8 billion dollars in debt? Where's that money going? We're going to tell you. And when we go out to California, it's a totally--when people see me, it's like Aaaa! Dracula!

RIVERA: The Antichrist.

O'REILLY: Right, crosses come out. I'm sorry to say cross, because of the ACLU, but they do come out when I go to L.A.

RIVERA: Bill O'Reilly. Thanks, Bill.

O'REILLY: Any time, Geraldo.

RIVERA: Let's continue the discussion.

O'REILLY: Any time.

RIVERA: OK, buddy. Be right back.

posted: Sun - February 20, 2005 at 12:36 AM       j$p  send