O'Reilly's Round Two with Letterman Centers on Letterman's Disgust with Iraq War

FNC's Bill O'Reilly returned to the Late Show Friday night for round two with David Letterman over Iraq. In the show taped on Monday but not aired until Friday, Letterman expressed disgust with the war: "So we've made a mistake in war, so we stay there and kill as many Americans as we possibly can? That's the way you get out of a mistake?" At another point, Letterman fretted: “It's all about oil. That's why we're there. Big deal." When O'Reilly asserted that “it isn't 'We're a bad country, Bush is an evil liar.' That's not true," Letterman retorted that "I didn't say we were a bad country. I didn't say he was an evil liar" and charged: "You're putting words in my mouth just the way you put artificial facts in your head."

Unlike the January 3 confrontation, however, each time it seemed to get too personal, O'Reilly would always -- and Letterman sometimes too -- interject a humorous rejoinder to try to keep the interview from becoming too hard-edged. “We're really friends. This is all an act. We're buddies. We bowl," O'Reilly proposed in an effort to cut the tension. For a look at the January session, check my NewsBusters post of the time (with video), “Letterman Denounces Iraq War, Sheehan Critics.” My Friday night posting, “O'Reilly Returns to Late Show Friday Night, Letterman Calls Him a 'Liar,'” recounted comments Letterman made on his Thursday night show. (Partial transcript from Friday's show follows)

Video clip of the most animated portion of the O'Reilly appearance (7:10): Real (5.3 MB at 100 kbps) or Windows Media (4.5 MB at 81 kbps), plus MP3 audio (2.5 MB)

The Late Show Web site has posted (on its "Big Show Highlights" page) a 3:39 streaming Real video of the Letterman-O'Reilly encounter.

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth took down some highlights from the segment on the October 27 Late Show with David Letterman:
David Letterman: "So we've made a mistake in war, so we stay there and kill as many Americans as we possibly can? That's the way you get out of a mistake?"

Bill O'Reilly: "No, what you do is you try to maximize-"

Letterman: "And do you honestly believe, irrespective-"

O'Reilly: "Are you going to let me answer?"

Letterman: "I don't care. Irrespective, irrespective of what the, oh sure, help yourself." [referring to O'Reilly drinking water]

O'Reilly: "Thank you. We're really friends. This is all an act. We're buddies. We bowl."

Letterman: "But irrespective, irrespective of what the United States, let's say, to your way of thinking, the United States prevails militarily in Iraq."

O'Reilly: "Right."

Letterman: "How long do you think stability in that part of the world will last?"

O'Reilly: "It's impossible to say, but-"

Letterman: "Well, then, would it have been worth it? If it's stable for the next thousand years, then George Bush is a genius. Is that going to happen? Is it going to be stable for another thousand years?"

O'Reilly: "How do I know? Am I Carnac here or what?"

Letterman: "What's your best guess?"

O'Reilly: "What I'm trying to tell you is-"

Letterman: "What is your best guess?"

O'Reilly: "I don't know. What I'm trying to tell you is the geopolitics in the world we live in is incredibly complicated. The reason to go into Iraq was WMDs with a mad dictator, okay?"

Letterman: "We've established this."

O'Reilly: "That was the reason. It was wrong. If we could go back in a time machine, we wouldn't do it."

Letterman: "But how does staying there killing more and more Americans make it right? How do you make a right decision out of a wrong decision? It looks to me like the country is going to fall apart anyway regardless of what people do. Do you think stability will prevail over there?"

O'Reilly: "Look, Dave, if you, if you get out of Iraq and leave it in chaos, Iran comes in, takes over, all right, and then we basically have a 10 times worse situation because the oil flow then goes under the jihadists in Iran. You want to debate geopolitics with me? Do you really?"

Letterman: "So there it is. It's all about oil? You just answered the question."

O'Reilly: "Absolutely. It's all about oil. The whole world is about oil."

Letterman: "That's right. It's all about oil. That's why we're there. Big deal."

...

O'Reilly: "Do you know what Ansar al-Islam is? Do you know what that is? You don't. All right, I'm not saying this in a condescending way. I'm really not, okay? I'm not going to call you a bonehead or a pinhead, all right? Ansar al-Islam was the al-Qaeda affiliate in northern Iraq that tried to poison the British water supply with ricin. They operated with Saddam Hussein's okay. Again, complicated, but it isn't so black and white, Dave. It isn't 'We're a bad country, Bush is an evil liar.' That's not true."

Letterman: "I didn't say we were a bad country. I didn't say he was an evil liar."

O'Reilly: "Good."

Letterman: "You're putting words in my mouth just the way you put artificial facts in your head."

O'Reilly: "All right. We're really friends. Give me one artificial fact."

Letterman: "Where are you going to be for Thanksgiving?"

O'Reilly: "At your house. We're coming over as we always do. This is an act. This whole thing is a big act."

Letterman: "But honestly, I mean, you've raised some points, but the truth of it is a reasonable person can't believe what you're saying."

O'Reilly: "No, that's ridiculous."

Letterman: "No, no, no. It is."

O'Reilly: "That's absurd."

Letterman: "No, no. It is. It is."

O'Reilly: "That's a totally absurdity. We have the highest ratings in cable for the last five years."

Letterman: "Then how come I can't find the damn show?"

...

O'Reilly: "Anyway, did you enjoy Culture Warrior, though?"

Letterman: "I haven't read the book."

O'Reilly: "You really haven't read it? Come on, you're going to love it, you're in the book."

Letterman: "I know. I looked at it, I thought, 'What is he, what is this, a book about sailing?' And then I said, I said, 'No, I don't, I don't need that.'"

O'Reilly: "You'll like the book, Dave."

Letterman: "I'm sure I will."

O'Reilly: "It's full of artificial facts. You'll love it."

Letterman: "Oh, gosh, where has the time gone? I appreciate you coming over here and indulging me because, you know, once again, I'll just end up by saying I have no idea what I'm talking about. But I don't think you do either."

O'Reilly: "You're entitled to your opinion. We're in America."

Letterman: "Same to you."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center