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Rev. Al Sharpton Goes Head-to-Head with Bill O'Reilly

Reported by Marie Therese - February 10, 2006

On last night's O'Reilly Factor, the Great Bloviator lashed out at former President Jimmy Carter for remarks made during the Coretta Scott King funeral. His guest, Rev. Al Sharpton, defended Carter and even kept his cool when Bill made a feeble attempt at humor at the end of the interview.

Bill opened with his Talking Points Memo, in which he deplored the fact that former President Carter, while standing in front of a seated President George W. Bush, mentioned that Mrs. King had been illegally wiretapped in her life.

He then began his interview with Sharpton by claiming that Mrs. King's funeral should not have been used as a political rally.

Sharpton strongly disagreed, pointing out that Mrs. King was first and foremost a civil rights leader and that any celebration of her life must, of necessity, refer back to her activist history.

SHARPTON: "They [the four Presidents] went there because this woman represented public policy. It was more than appropriate to discuss public policy and I did not hear, Bill, Jimmy Carter say anything directly that he is attacking Bush. He attacked the wiretapping."

O'Reilly went on to call Carter's remarks "snide" and claim that Carter directed them "at the sitting President who's right behind him - classless!" Sharpton disagreed, pointing out that Carter was referring to the DEMOCRATS who were responsible for tapping Mrs. King's phone.

O'Reilly would have none of that, but just kept on pounding away at his talking point: Funerals even of political activists should avoid all mention of politics, especially if it makes George Bush look bad.

O'REILLY (getting louder and louder): ... It was the wrong forum! The lady's lyin' in the coffin right in front of him! That's not when you do it!

SHARPTON (loudly): And the lady was a victim of wiretapping!

O'REILLY: He can come on this show and do it all day long!! (shouting) He can do it when he wants!! But not when the lady's lyin' in the coffin!!! Now here's why you're wrong about the other thing. (lowers voice a bit) The reason that the four Presidents and you and Jesse Jackson and everybody else went to Atlanta for Coretta Scott King's funeral is because she was an American heroine!! She was a woman of respect and all the people who went down there should have been showing respect to her (louder) and putting their political differences aside!!

SHARPTON (calmly): Well, Bill, I think, first of all, she was a heroine. And she was respected. And she was a heroine and respected because she stood for things and we had the obligation to stand up for that at her funeral. That's why she stood for what she ...

O'REILLY (overtalking last 7 words, loudly): Naw, you can do it 360 days other than her funeral!!! Look President Bush ...

SHARPTON (loudly): But then was it inappropriate, Bill, for Dr. King to talk public policy at funerals that he preached at and for her - I've heard her speak at funerals raising human rights issues.

O'REILLY: Which one?!!

SHARPTON: So was she being ...

O'REILLY: Which one?!!!

SHARPTON: ... inappropriate?!!

O'REILLY: Which funeral?

SHARPTON (louder): Every one she ever did!!!

O'REILLY: Alright.

SHARPTON: Starting with ...

O'REILLY: I never heard that and ...

SHARPTON: ... when Dr. King ...

O'REILLY: ... if Dr. King or anybody else ..

SHARPTON: Look! I come out of the King movement!! I think that it was entirely appropriate. What I thought was a little inappropriate was for the President to come and speak and leave before he even heard her daughter's sermon!

O'REILLY: Oh, look ...

SHARPTON: So, if somebody was using the funeral ....

O'REILLY (overtalks last 7 words): The President of the United States goes down there and my philosophy is he went down there to show respect and I think you'd agree with that. He shows respect to the woman. And, part two of that is we're all Americans here and when there is a tribute - and that's what this was - we nationally televised it on FOX - televised it to the world - it was a tribute to a great woman. OK? We don't need ...

SHARPTON (interrupts): A great woman who was a victim ...

O'REILLY: It doesn't ...

SHARPTON: ... of illegal wiretapping!

O'REILLY (exasperated): Look, stop it!!

SDHARPTON: It's part of what made her ...

O'REILLY: That's the Kennedy ...

SHARPTON: ... so great, that despite the fact ...

O'REILLY: ... administration. Why do you want to do that?

SHARPTON: And they were wrong! And they were wrong!

O'REILLY: But why bring it up?

SHARPTON: Part of what made her great is she survived being illegally wiretapped, being harassed, her husband's murder - all of that she survived!!

O'REILLY: Make it on another day!

SHARPTON: That is not political. That's public policy!

O'REILLY: Look! If you - you diminish ...

SHARPTON (refuses to let O'Reilly speak): What are the - we shouldn't have talked about her life at all ...

O'REILLY: Not there!! Not there!!!

SHARPTON: How do you talk about her life and leave that out?

O'REILLY: No! You can talk about ....

SHARPTON: Well, maybe it would have offended people that she was against the war .

O'REILLY :... you can talk about her life like the Clintons did, in a non-partisan, praising way, emphasizing the positive effect she had on the country. Look, I don't know why you don't understand this! You're a smart guy!

SHARPTON: i think it was absolutely appropriate.

O'REILLY (louder): By injecting partisan politics into the funeral you take away from the tribute to the woman. You make it a dog and pony show!!! Go!

SHARPTON: No, I think, I think that it would have been a betrayal of Doctor and Mrs. King to not address the suffering that she endured, that included illegal government harassment. If the shoe fits, then the President had to wear it. He did not lie - you're not arguing the truth of the matter.

O'REILLY (disgusted look): The President didn't have anything to do with ...

SHARPTON: You just don't - you don't want the truth on a day that ...

O'REILLY: ... wiretapping Mrs. King!!

SHARPTON: ... you want to decide on which day we tell the truth. That's like tellin' the preacher "Don't bring up my sin today. It's my birthday." You gotta preach the truth!

O'REILLY: No, it's like tellin' the preacher when I'm dead in the ground "Don't tell everybody what a bad guy I am"! Think it! One day! Let me be buried!!

SHARPTON; What? What? He didn't say anything bad about Mrs. King. He [was] talkin' about the bad done to Mrs. King!

O'REILLY: Wrong place.

SHARPTON: I think he made the best speech of the funeral.

O'REILLY: Wrong time. Alright. You know you're a stand-up guy for comin' in here. Jesse Jackson wouldn't do it! And we appreciate you comin' on.

SHARPTON: Jesse Jackson would do it. And, if I'm around when you go, I'm gonna talk about talk show hosts with No Spin Zone. I hope the people at your funeral won't be offended.

O'REILLY: Alright. Well, I just - I'm gonna write in my will tonight, when I die, make sure Sharpton's in chains for 24 hours before I'm in the ground. And you get Jesse Jackson on this program. You both come on here!!

SHARPTON (smiling): I could say somethin' about you wantin' me in chains but I'll, I'll let it go. I'll let it go.

O'REILLY: Oh. Alright. I didn't mean THAT. I just meant muzz ...

SHARPTON: Take care.

O'REILLY: ... muzzled.

SHARPTON: Well, you said chains, Bill!

O'REILLY: Alright. Fine. Look. Far be it from me to offend anybody, Reverend! You get Jackson in here with you.

SHARPTON: Who?! You?!

O'REILLY: Yeah!

SHARPTON: Who? You?

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