Tuesday, August 10, 2004


Bill O'Reilly's debate with Paul Krugman was must-see television for anyone interested in politics. Republicans who are running for office and appearing as guests on news programs should take notice of O'Reilly's performance on Tim Russert's CNBC show. O'Reilly did a better job of defending the Bush Administration and conservative principles on economics than any Republican that I have seen, so far, in this election season. Republicans would be wise to learn from the transcript highlights that appear, below, in this space.

Donald Luskin on Paul Krugman and Bill O'Reilly on NRO Financial

Bill O'Reilly debated Paul Krugman, of the New York Times, on the CNBC show, "Tim Russert," hosted by the namesake. The hour-long debate was fascinating, thrilling and exciting if you're someone interested in this era's heavily charged partisan politics. Krugman and O'Reilly slugged it out over the economy, President Bush, Michael Moore, national security and the War on Terror. O'Reilly, in this fight judge's view, won with a knockout. He constantly challenged and parried Krugman's hits. O'Reilly pounded hard and repeatedly, able to counter all of Krugman's charges with righteous indignation.

The National Review's Donald Luskin agrees with this post-fight analysis. Luskin wrote an excellent review of the debate, using Krugman's own words against him and pointing out where O'Reilly cornered Krugman on certain points and questions.
Bill O’Reilly didn’t just win the debate. He cut out Paul Krugman’s heart and stomped on it. Welcome, Bill O’Reilly, to the Krugman Truth Squad. (You can read a full transcript of the show here.)

Anyone who is not an unthinking liberal and has tried to read Krugman's columns understands that he is an unabashed partisan who values rhetoric over fact, lies over truth. Krugman's columns might be the New York Times' most e-mailed article of the day, when they appear, but he has not been sufficiently challenged, face-to-face, for the veracity of his assessments until he ran into Bill O'Reilly.

O'Reilly landed punch after punch and a wobbly Krugman could not effectively respond.

O'Reilly pointed out that Krugman predicted that the Bush tax cuts would lead to a greater recession.
Prof. KRUGMAN: Let me just say it's a lie. I said they were ineffective at job creation. And if you look at the Bush administration...

Mr. O'REILLY: Hold on, hold on. Hold it. Now 'ineffective at job creation,' what is that? Semantics now?

Prof. KRUGMAN: No, it means that...

Mr. O'REILLY: The economy is based on job creation, and you're saying it's ineffective. Don't call me a liar, pal. That's what you do all the time, and I 'm not going to sit here and take it.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well--no. I'm sorry. You just did.

Mr. O'REILLY: 'Ineffective'? You can--that's the biggest bunch of spin in the world.

The debate on taxes continued
RUSSERT: You think we're undertaxed.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, I think, yeah, right now we are...
RUSSERT: And what would that do to the job creators in the country?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, you know, again, we're getting back only to the tax rates we had in 2000, you know, the tax rates we had all through the '90s. There's no sign--you know, the United States is the lowest-taxed, advanced country by far. Now...

Mr. O'REILLY: Yeah, because we're not a socialist country.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Oh, gosh.

Mr. O'REILLY: And when did the R&D blow and get into the go-go '90s? It happened when Reagan cut taxes, all right...

Prof. KRUGMAN: I love this.

Mr. O'REILLY: And all the corporations started R&D. I don't care whether you believe it or not.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Going to give...

Mr. O'REILLY: You're a quasi-socialist. You want a big government creating jobs. I want the private sector to create jobs.

O'Reilly then lays down the differences between liberals who want the government to run economy and those who want private citizens to direct the economy.
Mr. O'REILLY: ...what Krugman [wants] is the government to run the economy. Kerry's going to create 10 million jobs or 30 million, whatever he's going to do. What I want is the private sector to drive the economy. There's a fundamental difference between him, Mr. Entitlement, and me, Mr. Self-Reliance. That's it.

RUSSERT: What about the deficits, though? What would you do about them, and how do you deal with them?

Mr. O'REILLY: What I'd do with them is I would reorganize the entitlements that are the bulk of the deficits, OK, reorganize it. And I believe in privatizing some of the Social Security, medical savings funds, all of those things, educational funds. He wants the government to pay everything. That, in a nation of 300 million, is impossible. Ask any working-class person. They're all in debt. They're all struggling to survive. You want to buy a house? Look at the housing prices, OK? When my father bought a house in Levittown, it was 8 grand after he got out of World War II. This same house is $250,000. They can 't afford to buy a house and pay the property taxes, pay his taxes, pay the state taxes. It's ridiculous. The government has got to shrink. They've got to get smart. They've got to run it like a private business would run it, not Mr. Big Government because they can't keep track of the money. There's no waste management in the money. Corruption is rife. And he wants more tax money to waste. It's outrageous.

Krugman tried to refute O'Reilly's points but failed miserably.
Prof. KRUGMAN: And you take a look at anything I've written about economics, and I'm not a socialist. You know, that's a slander.

Mr. O'REILLY: I said quasi.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, that's a wonderful--then you're a quasi-murderer. I mean, why--what...

Mr. O'REILLY: I'm a quasi-murderer?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, quasi is a pretty open thing.

Mr. O'REILLY: That's ridiculous. All right.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Right. I'm nowhere close to that.

Mr. O'REILLY: I think we defined where we both are on this.

On the subject of Iraq, O'Reilly gets Krugman to concede that President Bush did not lie about the reasons to go to war.
Mr. O'REILLY: Look, the Iraq War was a big screw-up, all right? I think every clear-thinking person in the country knows it was. First of all, weapons of mass destruction did not materialize, which was the primary motivator for the war. All right? Now Mr. Krugman and his left-wing pals throw around the lie, 'Oh, they lied.' Do you believe Bush lied, by the way, about weapons of mass destruction? You still pumping that drum?

Prof. KRUGMAN: I've never actually said the word 'lie,' I don't think.

Mr. O'REILLY: No. You're clever in your rhetorical vices.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, so is Bush. You know, one of the things about his speeches...

Mr. O'REILLY: Wait. Do you believe he lied or not?

Prof. KRUGMAN: I believe he knew what he wanted to hear, and people found a way to tell it to him.

Mr. O'REILLY: All right. So you're not going to call him a liar then.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Not on that.

Mr. O'REILLY: OK. Good. But you're...

O'Reilly then makes an argument for why we went to war with Iraq - and his argument is better than any argument made by Republicans or members of the Bush Administration.
Mr. O'REILLY: ...I'm appointing Russert as president of the United States right now, OK? I talked to Tommy Franks the other night, and I said, 'You know, what's this weapons of mass destruction deal?' And he was the general that commanded the war. He said, 'Before we went to war, Egypt and Jordan told me,' Tommy Franks, all right, 'that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. I passed that along to President Bush.' So you're sitting there in the White House, Russert, OK--frightening thought, but you are--and you're getting your top general going, 'I just heard from Egypt and Jordan weapons of mass destruction are there.' Blair's telling you, 'MI6--weapons of mass destruction.' Putin's telling you, 'Russian intelligence--weapons of mass destruction.' Your own CIA chief is telling you, 'Slam dunk weapons of mass destruction,' according to Woodward.

Now the 9-11 Commission harshly criticized Clinton and Bush for not doing enough to get bin Laden. That was one of their main thesis, and I believe that and I think everybody does. So you're told by Jordan, Egypt, Russia, Britain, your own guy, 'Weapons of mass destruction.' You know Zarqawi, a top al-Qaida lieutenant's, sitting in Baghdad because he just had a leg operation, all right? You know that. You know, as the 9-11 Commission pointed out, there's been repeated contacts between al-Qaida and Saddam. You know all this. And you don't move against Saddam? So they did have the WMDs. Say there was an anthrax attack on Krugman's apartment block, OK? You're sitting there, you had all this information, you didn't act. Impeachable offense. He had to act. That's the truth.

O'Reilly asks Krugman why the New York Times has focused so much on Abu Ghraib but has ignored the appalling Oil-for-Food scandal.
Mr. O'REILLY: And I know I will in your paper. But I ain't gonna read oil for food investigation there.

Prof. KRUGMAN: But let me just come back. The...

RUSSERT: Bill, why are you suggesting The New York Times won't be aggressive in pursuing oil for food?

Mr. O'REILLY: Because they use stories to bludgeon the Bush administration. They use their front page--here's the deal.

Prof. KRUGMAN: Oh God.

Mr. O'REILLY: Abu Ghraib, horrible story, awful, OK. Off-the-chart bad. Twenty-eight front-page stories in the Chicago Trib, no bastion of conservatism. Forty-eight front-page stories, all of the last 20 just repetitive, what we already knew, in The New York Times.

Prof. KRUGMAN: So you...

Mr. O'REILLY: They use that story to drive public opinion against the present administration, which the paper despises, and that's the fact.

Prof. KRUGMAN: I think if you look--well, I'm not gonna--you know, I'm not here to defend The New York Times, which has nothing to do with what I write in the column, all right?

The two men then discuss Michael Moore's movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11". The movie claimed that Fox News was the first network to call Florida for Gore.
Mr. O'REILLY: ...if you don't know what the definition is, I'll give it to you later. But let me give you one fact. In 9/11 after they got through with the garbage about the Saudis and bin Ladens being evacuated, then they go to Fox News, and they say, 'And who called the race for Bush in Florida? Fox News.' OK? Flat-out lie. We, along with NBC and everybody else, first called the race in Florida for Gore, OK? That's not what Moore says. And then it goes along the line down, distortion after distortion after distortion after distortion. I sat on the set that night. I'm watching that movie, I'm going, 'What?' He's telling the world that Fox News was the leader in trying to win Florida for Bush, when we made the wrong call along with everybody else for Gore.

Prof. KRUGMAN: But Fox News was the first network to change its call...

Mr. O'REILLY: Yes, because we were right.

Krugman discusses the movie "Outfoxed" and his view that Fox News is a propaganda arm of the Republicans.
Prof. KRUGMAN: You know, it's a--basically this is a guy who let his VCR--they did a lot of taping of Fox News and they produced a pretty--the kind of picture that you couldn't do on your own. It's a very cheaply made, very--you know, but it gives you a picture of a network that is very much a propaganda arm. And, you know, we can go through that lots of ways, but...

RUSSERT: Of whom? Propaganda of whom?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Of the right, of the Republican Party, or if you just like of Rupert Murdoch.

RUSSERT: And so the broadcasters and journalists on Fox News take marching orders?

Prof. KRUGMAN: Of course they do. I mean, if your fantasy was that there was a memo every morning that told you how we're gonna cover the news so as to slant it, their fantasy would be right. We've now got copies of the memo.

Mr. O'REILLY: All right. Well, look, Mr. Krugman lives in a world of his own. He embraces propaganda of the worst kind, and that's why I have very little regard for his professional analysis. I'll give you one example about that stupid thing. They put together a collage of me telling people to shut up, OK? In one of the--and this is just one. I can give you a hundred, but I don't want to waste time on it. In one of the discussions I had, I was talking to a young gay guy who was in a lot of trouble because he had outed himself in high school. And I said, 'Why don't you just shut up about your sex life?' That's what I said to him. They cut it to, 'Why don't you just shut up?' That is about as dishonest as it gets.

I can take tape of you, Tim Russert, over the last five years and I can make you look like anything I want you--to make you look like. And you know it. You know how it's done. I can make you look like a Communist. I can make you look like a fascist. That's what this guy did.

Bill O'Reilly did a great job of standing up to Paul Krugman. Krugman has been getting away with faulty statistics, faulty reasoning and outright lies. When he had to support his assertions he was never able to prove any of his points. He even conceded that his assertions of the Bush Administration's obsession with Iraq was mere speculation. O'Reilly did a great job of pointing out Krugman's bogus claims and flawed arguments.

No Republican has done as good a job as O'Reilly when it comes to countering ridiculous attacks and assertions coming from liberals. Republicans who are running for office and appearing on television programs as talking heads would be wise if they watched O'Reilly's performance. His aggressive stance against the liberal agenda is the only way to point out the errors and lies coming from the left-wing.

Update: Here is some fantastic further info and analyis of the debate... Crooow Blog has an extensive and good take on the debate, Donald Luskin has more thoughts on his blog, here and here. Luskin points out another point of view from Man without Qualities. I agree with Luskin that O'Reilly was better than Sean Hannity for the debate because he's actually not a hard-line conservative. O'Reilly holds enough moderate or left-leaning views to throw Krugman off his game. Where Hannity would throw nothing but fastballs, O'Reilly surprised Krugman with a few curveballs. Finally, Luskin wonders if Krugman learned a little something about humility.

Update II: More opinions here... Aldaynet, Inoperable Terran, Smarter Cop, Marcland, Allah, and Club for Growth.


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