In a discussion on the June 5 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor of his book, A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton (Random House, June 2007), author Carl Bernstein, in the span of a few seconds, gave virtually every possible answer to host Bill O'Reilly's initial question about whether Clinton had broken the law. First, Bernstein said simply, "Yes," but then gave the following contradictory statements in response to follow-up questions by O'Reilly: "She broke the law if, indeed, she perjured herself," and "No. The special prosecutor determined that she did not." After Bernstein stated: "Let me be really straightforward. I don't think she broke the law. I think there was a time that she did not tell the truth," O'Reilly asked, "Under oath?" Bernstein replied, "You know, I wasn't in the room."
Bernstein then said that Clinton "has a longtime problem with truth telling," only to assert moments later, "I think all people have problems telling the truth when they're under the most pressure, And the question is how much do they succumb to it?" O'Reilly then asked Bernstein if Clinton "succumbed to it, in your opinion, all the time," to which Bernstein said, "No," and then added: "Some of the time. Some of the time."
Later in the broadcast, O'Reilly concluded: "I have to tell you, I still don't know what to make of the woman even after -- even after reading the book. That's how complicated this woman is." Bernstein replied: "That's terrific."
The exchange went as follows, from the June 5 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: Did she break the law?
O'REILLY: OK. Good, I like this. How did she break the law?
BERNSTEIN: She broke the law if, indeed, she perjured herself.
O'REILLY: Well, you just said she did break the law.
BERNSTEIN: No. The special prosecutor determined that she did not. So he did not file the charge.
O'REILLY: So you think she did. But the special prosecutor, Ken Starr, said no.
BERNSTEIN: That is co -- you know what? Let me be really straightforward. I don't think she broke the law. I think there was a time that she did not tell the truth.
O'REILLY: Under oath?
BERNSTEIN: You know, I wasn't in the room.
O'REILLY: But seven years, Carl, come on, you're a tough guy. You got to come to a conclusion.
BERNSTEIN: No. I think that she has a longtime problem with truth telling. And that that is one of the things that has hobbled her through her years in the White House, continues to. And now the question is -- you know, this is a book about a life, a remarkable, epical, American life.
O'REILLY: OK. I got it. I got it. But I want to get specific into what you know, because you're the Watergate guy. All right. Why does she have a problem telling the truth? Why?
BERNSTEIN: I think all people have problems telling the truth when they're under the most pressure. And the question is how much do they succumb to it?
O'REILLY: And she succumbed to it, in your opinion, all the time?
O'REILLY: Once in a while?
BERNSTEIN: Some of the time. Some of the time. I think she has a problem with it. I say it very clearly in the book. I think -- however, I think that her problem with truth telling is as much one of obfuscation, omission.
She wants us to have a certain picture of herself. She wants to control her image. She wants us to control --
O'REILLY: But it's a little troubling if she becomes president, and we can't -- you know, it reminds me of the guy, [entertainment mogul David] Geffen, out in L.A. You know, you must have smiled when you heard Geffen say the Clintons have brought lying --
BERNSTEIN: I think we're barking up the wrong tree here.
BERNSTEIN: Yes, I think that what we want to do is look at the whole person for the first time. We've never had that opportunity until this book. Because what I've done is I've gone back to the people who know her the best from childhood through the presidency, through her Senate term, and on the record have gotten from them who this person really is.
O'REILLY: OK, one more fast question. Why is she the most polarizing person in the country in the political arena?
BERNSTEIN: Partly because she is a Rorschach test in terms of gender. Partly because she is between post-feminism and pre-feminism. That she gets huge ideological cultural warfare conducted around her. She's a lightning rod for it. And we're in the midst of a culture war.
O'REILLY: We are --
BERNSTEIN: And the Clintons, as you know -- and you're on the firing line.
O'REILLY: You bet.
BERNSTEIN: And as you know, as a result, that there are charges false, and there are allegations that have some water.
O'REILLY: I got it. And I read -- I read your whole book top to bottom.
BERNSTEIN: It's time to sort it out.
O'REILLY: I have to tell you, I still don't know what to make of the woman even after -- even after reading the book. That's how complicated this woman is.
BERNSTEIN: That's terrific.