BILL MOYERS: Welcome. Before we get to the serious business, let’s correct the record. Big Bird isn’t the only public broadcaster on whom Mitt Romney and the conservative propaganda machine have opened hunting season. If you saw Bill O’Reilly’s debate with Jon Stewart a week or so ago you saw Big Bill repeatedly trying to use me as the poster child for the federal deficit.

BILL O’REILLY: We have a president here who believes in social justice, alright. He wants to take your money, my money, the money of the one percent. And he wants to give it…

BILL MOYERS: He even came armed with a flash card.

BILL O’REILLY: …Bill Moyers. There he is. Bill gets it. […] Here’s what’s ridiculous…

JON STEWART: I wish I had a poster.

BILL O’REILLY: …sixteen trillion dollar debt and we got to pay for Bill Moyers? Let him compete on his own!”

BILL MOYERS: Nice work, O’Reilly. And thanks for the attention. But if you had grown up watching Sesame Street, you’d know your alphabet by now. And you would know NPR is not PBS. I’m on television, just like you. Well, not exactly like you. You reside in an alternate reality, where the truth is as elusive as a moonbeam and facts as alien as little green men with bug eyes.

Your flash card even had it wrong. NPR doesn’t pay me. I don’t work for National Public Radio, never have. This weekly series is on public television stations but we don’t get any money from PBS, either. We raise the funds ourselves, as anyone who can read would know. You can see who our funders are right there, before and after every broadcast. So if anything, we’re putting money into public TV. Over the years our programs have raised millions of dollars for stations across the country. That is a fact. Big Bill’s whole debate with Jon Stewart was like that. Even when he offered up a morsel of praise for anyone, he tripped over the facts. He gave a thumb’s up to Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas, who were guests on Moyers & Company last week, for putting President Obama’s feet to the fire on immigration reform.

JORGE RAMOS: A promise is a promise. And with all due respect, but you didn’t keep that promise.

BILL MOYERS: But he had their network wrong, too.

BILL O’REILLY: And that was a best interview by the way, these Telemundo people. That was the best one so far in the campaign.

BILL MOYERS: They’re on Univision, Bill. Not Telemundo, those two are competitors. Suppose I mixed up your Fox News Channel with, say, the Cartoon Network.

Anyway, no hard feelings. I’ve never even met Bill O’Reilly, by the way. But over the years, as his attacks on public broadcasting and our independent journalism have mounted, I have kept inviting him to come on our program to have a civil conversation about our differences. No editing, no tricks. I’ll even introduce him to our fact checkers, some of the best in the world. We use them, too.

So, Bill, come on over. But one word of warning: Big Bird’s a friend of mine. And we public television types stick together, like birds of a feather. Besides, he’s bigger than both of us.

Bill Moyers Essay: Correcting Bill O’Reilly

Bill Moyers offers some fact-checks to Bill O’Reilly for false statements the Fox News icon made about him during O’Reilly’s public debate with Jon Stewart. Moyers also reiterates his longstanding invitation to O’Reilly to appear on Moyers & Company for some straight talk. Stay tuned.

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