Barbara West, the anchorwoman whose tough questions of Sen. Joe Biden got her TV station booted from the Obama campaign trail, told Bill O’Reilly she is an equal-opportunity interrogator who has been just as rough on Sen. John McCain.
West’s interview with Biden Saturday resulted in the Obama campaign’s banning her station, WFTV in Orlando, Fla., from contact with the campaign.
Appearing on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” Monday Night, the feisty veteran newscaster explained that she did not intentionally sandbag Biden but was merely doing her job, which she said the mainstream media refuses to do.
“I went into the interview with the mind-set that we have some serious questions concerning issues in this country that need to be answered and we are running out of time to get any answers to those issues,” West told O'Reilly.
After O'Reilly told her that Biden wanted to paint her as a far-right person because of the tone of her questions, she responded, "Yes, indeed. I think he would like to still do that, but I am not. I'm a reporter who works for a television station that asks probing, penetrating, straightforward challenging questions. That is our job, and I am very surprised that I'm the only reporter over Senator Biden’s career who has asked such questions of him or of Barack Obama.”
She added, “Just today, I interviewed Senator McCain again,” and noted that she was just as probing during that encounter.
When O'Reilly asked what was the toughest question she asked of McCain, she said it was “asking him about his own campaign and his management of his own campaign.
"Obama’s campaign is so organized, and so well put together and such a well oiled machine,” she said. “And yet even now this late in the campaign Senator McCain's campaign just seems to not have it together.
“If we are looking for a person to hold the chief executive job in this nation and this campaign is the audition for it what would we have.”
O'Reilly asked West how McCain responded to her question implying that his campaign was disorganized.
“He kind of laughed a little bit about it,” she recalled, adding that he said he did not believe it is disorganized and that they're working very hard to try to get that message out, and that sort of thing.”
Said O'Reilly, "So you were equally as tough on McCain as you were on Biden?”
"I also asked him if there was a rift now between himself and Sarah Palin — that she seems to be drifting away from the principal talking points and is that indicative of her thinking that maybe this is already a lost cause, and she really needs to think about her own future.”
McCain denied it, she said.
Asked about the reaction in Orlando to the Biden situation, O’Reilly said. "You must have taken a little heat on that.”
"I've taken some heat, but I would say I've received in the neighborhood of about 12,000 e-mails just today” she said. “I haven't been able to read through them all but just looking at the titles of e-mails, they are generally supportive.”
O’Reilly said he thought Biden overreacted to her questions, and that he should have just answered them and gone on his way and not brought her up later. West did her job, O’Reilly told her.
After thanking O'Reilly, West said, "I think it's important that we should be doing our jobs and it's important to get the answers from these candidates now and not after the election. This is the most important election I believe of our lifetimes.”
She recalled another crisis time, saying, “Back in 1979-1980, I worked in London for Peter Jennings. When he was chief foreign correspondent and that's when 52 Americans were being held hostage” in Iran.
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