'We Don't Shield Anybody'

J$P Instant Transcript! Bill O'Reilly talks about Mary Mapes, Dan Rather, and blogs with Power Line's Paul Mirengoff.

From The O'Reilly Factor, October 5 2005:

BILL O'REILLY [FOX NEWS]: In the Impact segment tonight, as you know, Dan Rather left the CBS Evening News over a story that questioned President Bush's National Guard service. The source of that story proved to be bogus, and the producer Mary Mapes now says a right-wing conspiracy caused the entire fracas. Miss Mapes has written a book about it; it will be out in November. Joining us now from Washington is Paul Mirengoff, a member of PowerLine.com, which was involved in this situation. To be fair to Mary Mapes, who we would like to get on and interview about this when the book comes out, I think this is just a very small part of her book. But she does believe that an organized conservative cabal zeroed in on her story and tore it to pieces. And she resents it. What say you, sir?

PAUL MIRENGOFF [POWER LINE]: Well I just think it's unfortunate that she can't admit that the story was mistaken, and move on. This matter should have been put to rest months ago, when the Thornburgh panel issued its findings. The Thornburgh panel was commissioned by CBS, Ms Mapes's employer, to try to figure out what had happened. And it was headed by Richard Thornburgh, a former Attorney General of the United states, who's hardly a member of some right-wing conspiracy. He found that the story is indefensible. He said that they used selective quotes from interviews to distort the picture. He said they misrepresented the findings of their own document examiner to their viewers. And that really should have been the end of it. To blame this on the right-wing conspiracy is ludicrous and pretty sad.

O'REILLY: OK, but both Rather, Dan Rather, and Mapes are still saying the story is correct, even though we got hoodwinked by our primary source who turned out to be bogus. And I don't think you're going to blow them out of that. But as you say, I mean, the internal investigation at CBS said, look, this isn't up to our standards. We don't put this on the air. Now Power Line. Do you go after everybody, or do you just look at liberals? Are you trying to promote a conservative agenda? What exactly are you trying to do?

MIRENGOFF: Well we're conservative, and we do a lot of opining--hopefully opining, not bloviating--along conservative lines. And when we report facts, we link to our facts, so the reader can go and check our sources and see whether we've gotten it right. And if we make a mistake--and it does happen, blogs do operate very fast--we make a mistake, we get the correction up.

O'REILLY: All right, but say you got a tip that, say, Tom DeLay was doing something wrong, or a conservative politician, anybody. Would you pursue that, or would you just dump it in the wastebasket?

MIRENGOFF: No, if we had solid information, we would go with that. We were highly--no one read us, it was years ago, and no one was reading us at the time--but we were highly critical of Trent Lott when that story broke with respect to Sen Thurmond and his comments. So we are conservative but we don't shield anybody.

O'REILLY: OK, all right. So you say that you're in business to get truth out to the folks. That's what you're in business to do?

MIRENGOFF: Yes, and to present conservative opinions.

O'REILLY: Opinion. All right. Now, some of these other smear websites on the left, I mean all they do is follow people around and tape them and try to get little things that they say and take them out of context. So if you say a joke, they present it as serious. Do you do that as well? Do you try and denigrate the other side?

MIRENGOFF: No. We try to treat the other side with respect.

O'REILLY: Nothing more to say on that? You don't use defamatory tactics? You don't go after anybody and try to destroy them because you disagree with them?

MIRENGOFF: No. I mean, on the Rather story for instance, if you look at our lengthy posts on that, you won't even find the name Dan Rather. We were focused on the story, trying to determine whether it was true or false, not on the individual.

O'REILLY: All right, so you didn't bad mouth Rather? You didn't do a history of his Ratherisms, or try to make him look like some kind of ideological fool?

MIRENGOFF: No, not at--later on, we linked to some--his history became relevant when he continued denying the story--we linked to some people who did that. But our focus was on the story, not on Dan Rather.

O'REILLY: OK. Now Power Line has become very successful, and it's you and a couple of other lawyers running it, correct?


O'REILLY: Now George Soros on the left has bought his way into a number of these websites, and uses them to obviously try to hurt people with whom he disagrees. Do you have silent funding from right-wingers?

MIRENGOFF: No, we don't get a penny from anybody. Our goal is to say what we think, and we don't want to be constrained, we don't want to be bought and paid for or doing anyone's bidding.

O'REILLY: So no Mellon-Scaife or any of these guys kick you money and--

MIRENGOFF: No, absolutely not. Not a penny. We have a little advertising revenue now, and that's it.

O'REILLY: All right. So you're basically above board, conservative, but not looking to destroy anybody?

MIRENGOFF: No, we're not out to destroy anybody. We try to be about ideas, and we call 'em as we see 'em. And because we're not funded we have the freedom to do that.

O'REILLY: All right, Mr M. And Mary Mapes is absolutely welcome anytime to come on this program and say whatever she wants to say. We appreciate your taking time.

MIRENGOFF: Thank you.

posted: Wed - October 5, 2005 at 08:37 PM       j$p  send