Bill O’Reilly seems to have muzzled himself. The publication of David Corn’s “Bill O’Reilly Has His Brian Williams Problem,” followed by the re-publication of JFK Facts’ Jan. 30, 2013, story “Investigators tape exposes Bill O’Reilly’s JFK fib” has done what some thought impossible: The embattled Fox News host has stopped blustering.
Smart move. The JFK Facts story prompted reporter Joe Strupp of Media Matters to do his own reporting. He confirmed the story and added depth, tracking down two WFAA-TV employees in Dallas who confirmed that O’Reilly was not in Florida on March 29, 1977, as he states on p. 300 of his best-selling book, Killing Kennedy. Newsweek picked up the story. The Daily Mail and CNN took it global. Strupp explained why it matters, and Politics USA added an apt coda:
“For O’Reilly, it also appears that he’s always wanted the acceptance of the mainstream journalism community he pretends to disdain. Therefore, he makes outlandish claims about the things he’s seen or covered.”
Prudently, O’Reilly has not contested the accuracy of the JFK Facts story or the Media Matters follow-up. Fox News is referring questions about O’Reilly’s JFK fib to his book publisher, Henry Holt (although O’Reilly also mouthed the untruth on Fox News). Henry Holt, in an ill-advised move, said the company is standing behind O’Reilly’s JFK book.
On the right, the Biz Pac Review.com sees an ideological clash: “Determined to get their pound of flesh in exchange for the fall of NBC’s top-ranked anchor Brian Williams, the far-left outfit Media Matters pounced on the opportunity to once again target Fox News’ kingpin.”
I can’t speak for Media Matters, but I am not seeking a proverbial pound of flesh from Bill O’Reilly or anyone else. I didn’t publish my story because I want to harm him or because I don’t like his politics (although I don’t). I published the story two years ago because his JFK fib shows that he is not a trustworthy source on the assassination story. But Fox News has done some good JFK reporting. James Rosen, for example.