At Salon Joan Walsh asks if Bill O’Reilly’s JFK fib will “unravel” him? I doubt it. As Brian Stelter notes, O’Reilly’s ratings are up. Rachel Maddow is scornful but his friends are unfazed, and O’Reilly has moved on. His strategy is clear: Declare victory and get out.
Which leaves us where we were before David Corn first called attention to O’Reilly’s tall tales. Media Matters still wants to take him down because he’s a bad influence on American public discourse. CNN still has sound journalistic and commercial reasons for questioning his credibility
But from the narrower point of JFK Facts, I’m satisfied with O’Reilly’s response. The much-abused Fox News host does not contest the facts first reported in JFK Facts two years ago. That’s decent of him.
He could’ve lumped me with the demonic David Corn as a “guttersnipe” and consigned me to the “kill zone” of right-wing trolls. In return for those small favors this left-of-left, Ivy League, latte-sipping, Obama-voting libtard, would like to make a couple of points in defense of Bill O’Reilly.
First of all, a little perspective is in order. There are men in Washington who have foisted bigger untruths about JFK’s assassination on the American public than Bill O’Reilly. Much bigger. We’ll get to them in a minute.
Second, if you listen to tapes first reported on JFK Facts, you hear the 28-year-old Bill O’Reilly acting like a real journalist. He’s chasing a big story: the death of a key JFK assassination witness. He’s working the phones, calling his best source, Gaeton Fonzi, the knowledgeable congressional investigator. He rings up every coroner from Satellite Beat to Key West. He’s a reporter.
OK, so the Bill O’Reilly of 2015 doesn’t do that kind of thing. He’s too busy writing best-sellers about the untimely demise of great men. I don’t like his style or his politics but I don’t mind cutting the old man a little bit of slack. Once upon a time, he was a real reporter, a good one.
Third, the young O’Reilly was chasing a good story that the elite media (for the most part liberal) weren’t interested in. The man he was seeking to interview, George De Mohrenschildt, was an important witness in the JFK assassination investigation, a man who:
— was well-acquainted with the accused assassin, Lee Oswald;
— routinely collaborated with, and reported to, undercover CIA officers;
— was prepared to testify that he did not think that Oswald had killed the president.
And then he died a violent death. That’s a hell of a story, albeit one that most U.S. news organizations shied from (and still shy from). I credit O’Reilly. Once upon a time, he understood the JFK story better than most of his peers. Maybe he still does.
So leave aside contemporary media politics. In the historical record of the JFK assassination story, O’Reilly’s fib is immaterial. What he wrote in his book is certainly less important than the behavior of certain senior CIA officers after the popular liberal president was murdered in broad daylight.
Compare O’Reilly’s after-dinner yarn to:
— the bland perjury of deputy CIA director Richard Helms;
— the deceptive evasions of counterintelligence chief James Angleton;
— the slithery perjury of Cuba operations chief David Phillips;
— the felonious stonewalling of Miami branch chief George Joannides.
And I won’t get started on the dissembling of current CIA officials who continue to conceal more than 1,100 assassination-related records on bogus grounds of “national security.”
The Fox News host fibbed about his glory days as a young reporter. These CIA officers took deceptive — and possibly criminal — action in the course of the investigation of the murder of a sitting president. They have yet to be shamed, investigated, or even much noticed by the liberal (or conservative) media. That doesn’t excuse O’Reilly. It just puts his misdemeanors in perspective.