On Tuesday, Media Matters published a piece that accused Fox News host Bill O’Reilly of making a false claim in his book Killing Kennedy. In the book, O’Reilly said that he witnessed the suicide of a Russian emigre, George de Mohrenschildt, who knew Lee Harvey Oswald. Per O’Reilly’s book and numerous interviews after the book’s publication, O’Reilly was standing on Mohrenschildt’s front porch in Florida when Mohrenschildt took his life with a shotgun blast in 1977. A number of colleagues and reporters have come forward to refute that claim, stating O’Reilly was in Dallas when Mohrenschildt killed himself.
The Fox News host provided the following dramatic retelling of Mohrenschildt’s suicide in his best-selling book.
“[The reporter] traced de Mohrenschildt to Palm Beach, Florida and travelled there to confront him. At the time de Mohrenschildt had been called to testify before a congressional committee looking into the events of November 1963. As the reporter knocked on the door of de Mohrenschildt’s daughter’s home, he heard the shotgun blast that marked the suicide of the Russian, assuring that his relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald would never be fully understood.
By the way, that reporter’s name is Bill O’Reilly.”
A former Washington Post editor, Jefferson Morley, reposted a blog post from 2013 on his site JFKFacts.org on Tuesday. Morley points out in the post that taped conversations at that time with investigator Gaeton Fonzi reveal that O’Reilly was still in Dallas when Mohrenschildt shot himself and only made it to Florida after the fact. O”Reilly was trailing Mohrenschildt for a story regarding the JFK assassination and wanted to speak with him regarding his relationships with Oswald and others. However, based on his conversations with Fonzi and further confirmation from Fonzi’s widow, O’Reilly was not in Florida when Mohrenshildt died.
After Morley had reposted his article, Media Matters published a lengthy report Tuesday in which they spoke to two reporters who worked with O’Reilly in Dallas at the time. The two former colleagues confirmed that O’Reilly was still in Dallas when Mohrenschildt died. Media Matters also investigated the official Palm Beach records at the time of Mohrenschildt’s death to see who witnessed the shooting. O’Reilly’s name was nowhere to be seen. The two Dallas reporters who knew O’Reilly at the time also said there is no way he could have been there, and if he were, the station he worked for would have run some kind of exclusive surrounding the coverage.
Besides writing it in his book, O’Reilly has repeated the claim in numerous interviews in recent years. This is a situation where it is apparent O’Reilly inserted himself directly into the story for dramatic effect. When you get so used to bloviating and strutting around like an alpha dog, it seems reality sometimes gets fuzzy and you end up believing your own hype. 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.
On his show Tuesday night, O’Reilly didn’t address these new allegations directly, instead speaking in general regarding the ongoing Falklands War controversy first unearthed by Mother Jones. He stated that the reason he is getting targeted by the left-wing over his exaggerations is Fox News is the only media outlet putting pressure on President Obama. He brought on Fox News contributor John Stossel, who further claimed O’Reilly being a libertarian was the reason reporters and former colleagues now have it out for him.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).