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FOX News "On The Record With Greta Van Susteren" -Transcript

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VAN SUSTEREN: What about the White House strategy? Earlier, House Republican whip Eric Cantor went "On the Record."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, nice to see you, sir.

REP. ERIC CANTOR, R-VA, REPUBLICAN WHIP: Greta, great to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: I heard earlier today that you had some remarks about the sort of the spat that's been rising between President Obama and the White House and Fox News Channel.

CANTOR: Well, I mean, first of all, I think it is somewhat beneath the White House to even be bringing up a subject such as this. But listen, there are so many things going on right now. People are unemployed. The unemployment rate is close to 10 percent. We've got a health care bill that is threatening a significant, significant change in this economy, with a lot of people very uncertain about what it's going to do. We've got an energy policy that's on the table that needs to be ironed out, with a lot wrong with it. Why in the world would the White House be focusing on some -- on a news network that may or may not have an agreement on every issue that the White House is considering?
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VAN SUSTEREN: I realize this is a bit of a sideshow, although I don't underestimate the importance of having the free press and the press being able to cover stories. But historically, White Houses have been -- presidents have been a little bit sensitive to the media. Is this any different?

CANTOR: Well, listen, I mean, I do think that when you have the White House focusing on one news outlet, it is a little strange. We believe in free press and freedom of speech in this country. And again, why would the White House choose to go after its critics instead of trying to bring people together? After all, this president ran on trying to unite this country, trying to bridge the differences so that we can actually get Washington working again. This is not the way I think the people thought that this White House or this president would conduct business.

VAN SUSTEREN: So why did this happen? How do you think this happened?

CANTOR: Well, yes, I think, you know, Greta, you make a point. There is a sensitivity, I'm sure, as all of us have sensitivities any time you are confronted with an adversary or an individual or an organization that doesn't necessarily agree with you on a given issue.

But again, it's not the American way for us to go in and see the White House go and single out a news outlet when so many other things are on their plate. I mean, we've got kids on the ground in Afghanistan. We ought to be worried about that, not see a White House going after Fox News.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, last night, the president was asked by a network about the -- about the spat and about the feud, about the White House calling Fox News "talk radio." We asked him. Now, he does respond, but in some sense, you know, we keep now putting the question to him. So do we sort of let them a little bit off the hook because we keep putting it in their face, or -- or not?

CANTOR: Well, again, I think the White House needs to be focusing on what American people care about. And I also think that the press, in general, needs to be very aware. If there is a tendency in this White House to react so negatively to criticism, we ought to stand up and protect the free speech in this country that we're about.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is this a big picture, important issue, or is this a schoolyard brawl?

CANTOR: Well, I think -- look, let's just say this, Greta. It's unfortunate, OK? They shouldn't have done it. They shouldn't have singled out Fox News or anyone else, for that matter. They ought to be sticking to the issues that the American people care about, and frankly, our national security, our economy that right now are in so much question.

VAN SUSTEREN: How does the White House save face and get out of this? Because they sort of -- I mean, they indict an entire news network, then they picked on a couple (ph) which seemed to dial back a little bit, and now the president again says the entire news network. So it's sort of, like, they've broadened it one again. What's the -- now what?

CANTOR: You know what I...

VAN SUSTEREN: Now what?

CANTOR: You know, I think that the president could send a big message if he were to say, Look, we were wrong. We shouldn't be singling out critics individually if they differ with us. America is about robust debate, but we are trying to bridge the gap to bring people together, and that's what we should do in a bipartisan fashion to try and fix the way that Washington works and address the fact that people are out of work, address the fact that we need some positive reform in health care."

VAN SUSTEREN: So aggressive, challenging, not a bad idea for the media to its government?

CANTOR: Well, listen, why should anyone be the exception? I think the press in this country is certainly very aggressive and challenging, and after a while, it is that freedom that we are about every day trying to protect.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, Congressman.

CANTOR: Thank you.

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