Long before writing his popular best-seller, Killing Kennedy, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly did real reporting on the events that lead to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Here is O’Reilly on Inside Edition in 1991 doing a tough and accurate piece on retired CIA Western Hemisphere division chief David Atlee Phillips and the evidence that he associated with accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in September 1963.
When O’Reilly cites “HSCA investigators,” he is referring to his friend and source Gaeton Fonzi, who led the House Select Committee on Assassinations’ investigation in south Floriida. Fonzi later wrote a passionate but disillusioned memoir about the experience. After Fonzi died last August, the New York Times called him a “relentless investigator.” In those days, O’Reilly relied on Fonzi.
The sealed records that O’Reilly refers to in the piece were eventually opened by the JFK Records Act of 1992. The new files disgorged more damaging information about David Phillips.
In his sealed sworn testimony to the HSCA in 1976, Phillips had trouble telling a straight story about what he knew of Lee Harvey Oswald. One day he told the Washington Post that Oswald had threatened JFK in Mexico City. The next day, when testifying under oath, he denied it. HSCA counsel Richard Sprague said Phillips had “slithered” around questions about his statements to the Post.
Allegations that Phillips was involved in JFK’s assassination have never been proven. But it is now documented that Phillips orchestrated at least one assassination on behalf of the CIA.
In 1999, the non-profit National Security Archives at George Washington University obtained CIA records showing that Phillips organized an assassination conspiracy in Chile that resulted in the death of Gen. Rene Schneider in October 1970.
O’Reilly doesn’t mention Phillips or Fonzi in Killing Kennedy. He evidently changed his mind about Fonzi’s and Phillips’ credibility over the years, which is his right. But as a popular historian of the JFK story, O’Reilly should at least talk about how his thought process evolved over the years.