Former Colleague Calls O’Reilly A ‘Phony’

In his 2012 best-selling non-fiction book Killing Kennedy, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly writes on page 300 that he was about to interview a man named George de Mohrenschildt, a figure in the JFK assassination.  As a “reporter knocked on the door of de Mohrenschildt’s daughter’s home, he heard the shotgun blast that marked the suicide of the Russian … that reporter’s name is Bill O’Reilly,” states Media Matters.

Bill O'Reilly's Killing Kennedy

O’Reilly repeated the tale for the Killing Kennedy audiobook.  In Kennedy’s Last Days, the adaptation for younger readers, O’Reilly wrote, “As I knocked on the door, I heard a shotgun blast. He had killed himself.”

The Fox News host also repeated the tale while promoting his book and movie special on Fox News.

However, numerous pieces of evidence contradict O’Reilly’s claim that he “heard the shotgun blast” that killed de Mohrenschildt.

In comments to Media Matters, two of O’Reilly’s former colleagues at station WFAA in Dallas said that O’Reilly’s version of events is not true.  “Bill O’Reilly’s a phony, there’s no other way to put it,” said Tracy Rowlett, a former WFAA reporter and anchor who worked there with O’Reilly.  “He was not up on the porch when he heard the gunshots, he was in Dallas. He wasn’t traveling at that time.”

Byron Harris, a reporter at WFAA for the past 40 years, said that O’Reilly had not traveled to Florida for the story and accused him of “stealing” his reporting on de Mohrenschildt’s suicide from a newspaper.  He said O’Reilly “was in Dallas. He stole that article out of the newspaper. I guarantee Channel 8 didn’t send him to Florida to do that story because it was a newspaper story, it was broken by the Dallas Morning News.”

Both Harris and Rowlett said O’Reilly never mentioned having been present for the gunshot during his time at WFAA.

“I don’t remember O’Reilly claiming that he was there. That came later, that must have been a brain surge when he was writing the book,” said Rowlett.

Harris further pointed out that WFAA “would have reported it as some kind of exclusive — and there was no exclusive — if O’Reilly had been standing outside the door.”

O’Reilly’s claim of having been present when de Mohrenschildt shot himself was also missing from his 1992 Inside Edition report on documents relating to the Kennedy assassination.

During that report, O’Reilly said, “moments before he was to be interviewed by House investigators, de Mohrenschildt blew his brains out with a 20-gauge shotgun.”

(That statement comes at roughly the 2:37 mark in the video below.)

In comments to Media Matters,  Reporter and University of California (Washington Center) visiting professor Jefferson Morley said O’Reilly’s claim of being present for the gunshot is “just not true” and speculated that it was “just part of the pattern, to embellish the story and make it a sexier story.”  Morley said, “It is what these guys all do, they inject themselves into a dramatic situation,” said Media Matters.

Below is a video of CNN’s Brian Stelter interviewing Morley about O’Reilly’s report on de Mohrenschildt.

(Updated post)

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