In an exclusive Newsmax interview, top-rated Fox News host Bill O’Reilly says President Barack Obama is seeking to turn the U.S. into a “nanny state” providing cradle-to-grave entitlements — a vision that will weaken the country.
He also declares that MSNBC trails far behind Fox in the ratings because they made the mistake of “hiring bad people” he calls “guttersnipes” — while CNN has lagged because it did not “change with the times.”
And he challenges House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to sit down for an interview with him on the “no spin zone” — his prime-time show “The O’Reilly Factor.”
Editor's Note: See the exclusive Newsmax.TV interview with Bill O'Reilly below.
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The show is the No. 1-rated cable TV program. This year it’s on track to record its best ratings ever, averaging more than 3.7 million viewers, up 8 percent over last year.
O’Reilly is also a syndicated columnist and best-selling author whose next book, “Pinheads and Patriots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama,” will be released in September.
In the wake of the healthcare reform bill’s passage, O’Reilly was asked whether President Obama is moving the country in a socialist direction.
“Socialist is a loaded word and I don’t like to use it, because it’s too simplistic,” he tells Newsmax.TV.
“If people really want to understand President Obama, and they should, you’ve got to put yourself in his position. Who is Barack Obama? Number one, Barack Obama is a very sincere individual. He believes in what he’s doing. He’s not a phony like many politicians are.
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“Number two, he is a far-left guy. He believes that the government is there to impose — that’s a very important word — social justice. Not to persuade, to impose, to make laws that say we’re going to take money from the wealthy and give it to those who don’t have a lot of money.
“So he has taken a Western European model and he says, I like that. The nanny state. Cradle-to-grave entitlements. Everybody gets something so nobody is destitute. I’m Barack Obama and I like that, and I’m going to bring that here to the United States, which traditionally has not had it.
“So therefore you have the progressives, which he is, up against the traditionalists who say we don’t want that. That saps our strength. We want to compete. And when you compete, some people win and some people lose.
“Now we’re not going to throw granny under the bus or let babies die, but we don’t want to alter the basic competition level in capitalism, in politics. We don’t want to be Sweden. Sweden has 9 million people, we have 320 million. It’s going to be pretty hard to provide for 320 million people. In fact, it’s impossible. But Barack Obama wants the government to provide.”
O’Reilly, who has met with both Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, says they are not “malicious people,” and it serves no purpose to attack them personally. Instead, critics should focus on the president’s policies.
“There’s enough there. Just keep it on the issues. Make your case that his vision will weaken the country.
“The big gorilla is the debt. For some reason President Obama doesn’t think that owing 14 trillion dollars is a problem. Hey, it’s a problem. If Paul Revere were alive today he’d be on the horse going, ‘14 trillion dollars!’
“Forget the little stuff. Go to the big stuff because that’s when the voters of America will say, that’s a problem. So if you want Barack Obama and his crew out of power, that’s the way to get them out of power — not to go in and say he wasn’t born here, he’s a communist. It’s a waste of time.”
Fox has ratings far higher than those of rival news networks CNN and MSNBC combined. O’Reilly believes he knows why.
“CNN was at the top of the hill when we came in 13 1/2 years ago,” he tells Newsmax. “What happened to CNN? Basically they stayed where they were 10 years ago. They did not change with the times.
“We live in a very intense country, a very difficult time. CNN does not reflect that urgency. They basically report the news. And they do a good job.
“But people in the United States now, they know the news already, because they have the Internet, they have talk radio, a lot of vehicles, so they want analysis and perspective from a cable network, particularly in prime time. They don’t want to hear [the news] again. CNN doesn’t give you that, so that’s why they have fallen off dramatically.
“MSNBC made the key mistake of hiring bad people. It’s as simple as that. They’ve got a bunch of guttersnipes on their network and even if you’re a liberal, which is what they sell, you don’t like these people.”
On Fox, on the other hand, Glenn Beck is a “nice guy,” Greta Van Susteren is a “nice person,” Shepard Smith is a “good personality,” and Sean Hannity is a “Republican and identifies himself that way. So it’s real people.
“And then you turn on MSNBC and you see these people attacking personally, they’re throwing all kinds of stuff around. People go, ‘It’s unpleasant. I’m not going to watch it.’ And they don’t.”
He says he advises commentators who appear on Fox not to be malicious.
“You can make your points. But I’ll tell an Ann Coulter or Laura Ingraham — sometimes they might get a little rambunctious — make your points, but you don’t have to attack personally. Most Americans don’t like that stuff.”
O’Reilly says “The Factor,” which airs twice each night, attracts about 5.5 million viewers. But he says he doesn’t think about his phenomenal ratings or gloat over being No. 1.
He does point out that the 5.5 million viewers constitute just “a fraction of who sees us because it goes out on the Internet, Newsmax and everybody else. Every time I do something crazy, they put it on a Web site. So gazillions of people all over the world see the program. But if I thought about that, I would lose perspective.
“We know what we’re doing. I think that’s obvious. We put on a fast-moving show. We cut through all the B.S. and get to what’s important. I look at the ratings. It is a scorecard. I’m a competitive guy. I want to win. But I don’t go home and think, ‘Gee, I’m number one. Wow!’ I don’t do that. That would be self-destructive, I think.”
The viewing and listening audience on TV and radio includes many people who tune in because they want to hear their opinions reinforced by people who think exactly the way they think, O’Reilly says.
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” he maintains, but “I do it a little differently. I basically say to you, ‘I’m going to tell you the truth about the issues that we deal with. If it’s a liberal solution that’s better, I’m going to tell you. If it’s a conservative solution, I’ll go there.’ But all of my opinions are going to be fact-based.
“I’m not ideological. I take a lot of flak from the far right. I won’t call Obama a socialist.”
O’Reilly believes that the Republicans were voted out of power because the economy sank and the war in Iraq “went south,” prompting voters to give the Democrats a chance at running the nation. And now, with the “crazy healthcare thing that nobody can understand,” Americans could well be prepared to put the Republicans back in power.
Asked about Mitt Romney’s chances of winning the presidency in 2012, O’Reilly says the former Massachusetts governor's biggest asset is his success in business.
“He’s a businessman and the economy and Iran are the two biggest issues in the country today.
“If he can sell his expertise, that this is insane what the Obama administration is doing and I’m going to come in and stop it, he’s got a good chance.”
O’Reilly has interviewed another possible GOP candidate, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and says she “acquitted herself quite well” during their conversation.
He adds: “I was on ‘Good Morning America’ a few weeks ago and I said Sarah Palin definitely needs to up her frame of reference. That means she needs to go in and do heavy duty public policy studying. How things happen. Why they happen. But she is doing that. She has hired people to do that, to bring her up to speed.
“I said to [co-anchor George] Stephanopoulos: ‘You’re telling me Nancy Pelosi’s smarter than Sarah Palin? She’s the speaker of the House. Let’s see how Nancy Pelosi does on the no spin zone.
“Nancy Pelosi doesn’t have the desire to come in to be interviewed by me. Why? I’m not going to attack her personally. We’ll talk issues. Palin sat there. Why can’t Nancy Pelosi?
“So, as viewers, who are you going to bet on? Who’s smarter? It’s going to be a pretty interesting deal if she comes in and sits across from me. She won’t, and that says a lot.”
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