In defense of Bill O’Reilly

O'Reilly on the grassy knoll

The intrepid young O’Reilly reports from the grassy knoll.

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.

George De Mohrenschildt

George De Mohrenschildt, Oswald’s friend

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.



  1. Dan says:

    The O’Reilly TV report embedded in your “Reliable Sources” item is in fact a very good report on Antonio Veciana and the HSCA. It reflects the thinking of Gaeton Fonzi, who likely was the source of the information.

  2. While “cutting some slack” for O’Reilly is magnanimous of you, I can’t. He flat-out lied. Period. And he repeated the lie many times after. Period. He now calls his lie “a mistake,” downplaying the real significance of it rather than calling it was and correcting it. Also, comparing O’Reilly’s lie to those of CIA officials is, in my opinion, comparing apples to oranges. Instead, I think his actions and the fallout should be compared to other journalists, like the recent Brian Williams episode. It comes as no surprise to me that O’Reilly and Fox News would not be held up to the same standards as Williams and NBC. O’Reilly and Fox News have no standards. BTW, keep up the great work, Jefferson!

    • Ramon F Herrera says:

      [Randy Owen:]

      “He [O’Reilly] now calls his lie “a mistake,”


      Are you saying that O’Reilly has retracted on the gunshot?

      That is unheard of! (pun intended). Conservatives never ever concede anything (specially in 2008-2016), and that is the reason they are known as “Conservatives”.

      Can you provide a URL?

  3. Jeff Pascal says:

    Excellent.Those early reports of O’Reilly’s JFK coverage on Inside Edition are very good.One thing I’d like to add on De Mohrenschildt is that he himself was involved with Coups(Haiti), as were people mentioned in his Address book.

  4. Sam says:

    I own several of O’Reilly’s books, including “Killing Kennedy” and “Killing Lincoln.” What is interesting is that in the Killing Kennedy book he (and his co-author) seem to be clear that they don’t think there was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy, that Oswald acted alone. I don’t share that viewpoint, but that’s whet is in that book. Contrast this with his book, “Killing Lincoln” (which also contains some factual errors according to some Lincoln historians). In the Lincoln book, O’Reilly posits the idea that not only was there a conspiracy to kill Lincoln and take down the federal government by Booth and his fellow conspirators, Bill also suggests that an insider in Lincoln’s cabinet may have also been in on the conspiracy. So O’Reilly doesn’t have a problem seeing conspiracies, just not Kennedy assassination conspiracies. Maybe the Lincoln theory he suggests is true, or maybe it isn’t. But maybe also the Lincoln assassination is safely far enough back in our history as to no longer be a threat to any existing institutions or sensibilities? It could be that the JFK assassination is too close still for many conservatives, people who love our military and intelligence agencies, to fathom any wrongdoing. Maybe in 2160 it won’t be so difficult for mainstream historians to see a conspiracy in the assassination of Kennedy? Maybe by then all of the still hidden files will have been released?

  5. Fearfaxer says:

    Thank you Jeff. It is important to note that at one time O’Reilly does appear to have been quite skeptical of the Lone Assassin theory, and was quite open to the idea that there might have been a conspiracy to kill JFK. Indeed, one of the saddest things about this is to compare the capable, hardworking reporter he once was to the bloated, egomaniacal hack he’s become.

  6. Chris Kade says:

    Agree 100%, Jeff. I just wish that O’Reilly would not have put out his egregiously simplistic book about the Kennedy assassination. Thanks to people like him, the day that Lee Harvey Oswald’s guilt will be assumed by a majority of the American public draws nearer.

  7. Larry Schnapf says:

    O’Reilly changed his tune when he got the anchor slot at Fox. Cant believe in conspiracy and be invited to the right parties in DC, get your calls returned by high government officials or alienate your sponsors.

    And then me makes all this money selling a book that contradicts his early work.

    This only goes to reinforce what a remarkably brave and honest journalist we are gifted to have in Jeff Morley….

  8. Ronnie Wayne says:

    Well Mr. Morley, I for one am really glad you re posted the article.
    I started reading Facts in the late spring of 2013, not posting for several months. I’d never seen it before. It obviously attained greater readership this round so I’m not the only one better informed. The discussion of it and the several related threads have been enlightening. In particular I think more people now know more about the story and importance of George de Mohrenschildt.
    Maybe some of the people who visited the site as a result of the exposure on CNN/Reliable Sources, The Huffington Post and others had their curiosity spiked enough they will visit more.

  9. Marcus Hanson says:

    Jeff , are you now going to write a piece in “defence” of John McAdams ?!

  10. Ramon F Herrera says:

    [Jeff:] “The much-abused Fox News host does not contest the facts first reported in JFK Facts two years ago. That’s decent of him.”


    No, it is not. For starters, Mr. O’Reilly is not “uncontesting” the facts first reported in JFK Facts two years ago. He is ignoring you -and the rest of us. (Here, I am including the 14,000 comment Politico piece).

    Notice that the new verb that I just coined (in quotes, above) is an ACTIVE verb.

  11. Charles Beyer says:

    If suffering from ‘little man syndrome’ (exaggerating reality to make one appear superior) was a crime there would not be enough prions on earth to hold all the offenders (usually males). O’Reilly’s fib about George De Mohrenschildt’s suicide is a JFK factoid that needs to be exposed & removed from the JFK story before people began believing it really happened. End of story.

  12. Bill O’Reilly will not get fired by FOX. However, O’Reilly is being discredited and that is important in and of itself. He will never recover from this.

  13. Emil R. Wolanski says:

    Bill O’ Reilly works on cable news, while Brian Williams works
    on broadcast news.

    I don’t know how many people have cable, but that
    explains why Brian Williams was suspended and not
    O’ Reilly.

  14. jude francis says:

    Recent revelations about Bill O’Reily has been labeled as “exaggerated” stories as reported by this man. OK, yes he is worth 85 million dollars, but lets call a goose a goose. These are not exaggerated reports of the facts as “he” stated he was a part of. Mr. Bill absolutely must have known if he was present at any of the events he has reported on.. The bottom line, he’s a liar and his reporting can’t be believed. How many of these events have to be proven before people finally realize he’s a liar.

  15. marie fonzi says:

    Jeff, so, hoorah, O’Reilly didn’t call me a guttersnipe. So what.
    His offense is anything but trivial; he sold his lie that LHO was the sole assassin to a million people and then went after changing history for the kids. If he was on DeM’s doorstep and heard the shot, then Gaeton must have been lying – O’Reilly’s friend who did so much to help him in his career. Marie Fonzi

    • Ramon F Herrera says:

      Dear Marie:

      I don’t mind telling you that Gaeton has become one of my role models. One finds so few heroes these days. When I embark in a difficult project, let’s say that I post a technical problem, asking for help on the Internet, I write: “This is my latest white whale, folks!”. And by now, many colleagues know exactly why I am saying it. In person, some smile approvingly.

      What Mr. O’Reilly has done to you, to the memory of Gaet, to JFK Facts (not pretending to be even close in the infamy suffered), to the responsible media, and to the public in general is beyond the pale, even for people who swim in his circles.

      If he had called you (and with you, us) liar, at least he would be acknowledging that you exist. That poor excuse for a human being, who enjoys calling Lee “lowest, lowest rung”, and others “pinhead” has not even conceded that Gaeton Fonzi was once on this beautiful earth -let alone how much he helped the egotistical ingrate- and with this, he has attempted to trivialize a lifetime of dedication to his country by one of the greatest Congressional Investigators ever.

    • leslie sharp says:

      Marie, I don’t know you, but I do know people who know you personally, and I recognize that a great deal in the Kennedy investigation hinges on the credibility of Gaeton Fonzi and that not only are you the torch bearer of his professional legacy which included an intrepid pursuit of the truth behind the assassination, but you were a witness to the events in question. If I were you I would be furious and in fact I was when I read this “in defense of Bill” essay by Jeff Morley. Not wishing to fan a fire, but I challenge Jeff to pursue this story in the context that you present: Ask Bill O’Reilly directly to describe the immediate aftermath at the Tilton Mansion, how the police arrived, who called them, identify how long they combed the area, did they ask him to make a statement about the sound of the shots or any activity in the intervening minutes – and if so – can he produce that document, describe who was present, what mode of transportation delivered him from the mansion in the aftermath . . . the questions any competent journalist would ask; and then tell us O’Reilly’s claim to have been on the doorstep was little more than a harmless fib? If he was at the mansion, and if being at the mansion builds his stature as an expert on the Kennedy assassination, and if as an expert he tells millions of Americans that Lee Oswald was a lone assassin, how can any honorable journalist write off O’Reilly’s statement as a mere “fib?” This is in it’s purest form, disinformation, and if Jeff Morley does not denounce it having had direct access to the original audio tapes, then I posit he is by default perpetuating a lie. He is also placing in question Gaeton’s assertion that O’Reilly was in Dallas, not in Florida the day of deMohrenschildt’s death which indirectly and perhaps unintentionally impugns your husband. I noted a distinct effort by Jeff Morley to couch his statements very carefully, legally, and that is understandable, but this forum is a “free speech zone,” is it not?

    • Ramon F Herrera says:

      Hi Marie:

      I am sure you will be interested to learn this.

      The CNN program in which our host Jeff Morley was interviewed, on 3/1/2015, “Reliable Sources” lasted one hour. It is recorded in the innards of my DVR (cable box). The only version that is publicly available (here and in YouTube’s CNN channel) lasts 4 1/2 minutes, which is a shame and nothing short of a tragedy.

      Jeff and Brian Stelter said some important stuff that ended up in the proverbial editing room floor. Our fellow forum participants have never seen the full scoop. We need to rescue that material for posterity.

      Being a geeky type, I ordered some equipment from Amazon, which will allow me to extract the full video, and post it on line.

      BTW: Only the first 25 minutes are pertinent to JFK Facts. After Jeff, they had O’Reilly’s nemesis Al Franken (see their historic encounter in my next post) and a professor of journalism: Jay Rosen, who had some fascinating comments.

      [If there are any complaints: Vanessa made me do it!!! It was her idea !!! 🙂 See evidence below ]

      Can somebody from the JFK Facts Audiovisual Department pleeeeeez contact me (ramon at patriot dot net)? I know Jeff is very busy, and I don’t want to bother him with data rate transfers, Mb/s, and arcane techie stuff. We need to work out the logistics of posting that historic (for this web site, anyway) material. Given the large size, perhaps I will have to put it in a DVD and send it by snail mail?

  16. Ronnie Wayne says:

    Mrs. Fonzi, Bill O’Riley would not dare call you a guttersnipe. It would call attention to an issue he would like to go away. Because of you and Jeff’s efforts History will know the truth in these matters. Gaeton Fonzi is an American hero.

  17. Jordan says:

    For another example of the Media moguls and the spin they force upon the public:

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