Bill O’Reilly tonight directed his viewers to the website of his Killing Kennedy publisher Henry Holt & Company, which today posted a statement from a former colleague of O’Reilly who insisted the Fox News Channel host was in Florida at the time a person of interest in the JFK assassination investigation committed suicide.
Coincidentally — or not — this topped O’Reilly’s Fox News Channel show the same day Newsweek posted a report today, written by Lee Harvey Oswald biographer Edward Jay Epstein, calling pure horseradish O’Reilly’s account of being at the front door when Oswald acquaintance George de Mohrenschildt, took his life.
The statement from former WFAA-TV reporter Bob Sirkin (read it below) posted on Holt’s site contradicts a recording of a phone call made more than 30 years ago by someone identifying himself as O’Reilly to Gaeton Fonzi, a congressional investigator. The audio previously was released by Fonzi’s widow and reported on by CNN, among other outlets.
Adding to those contradicting O’Reilly account is Epstein, who says it could not have happened as O’Reilly claims. “How do I know? I was the actual — and only — reporter interviewing de Mohrenschildt on the last day of his life in 1977,” Epstein wrote for Newsweek. “I was meeting him at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida, because I was writing a biography of Oswald (Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald),” Epstein wrote.
For starters, Epstein says, “O’Reilly put himself at the wrong house. He writes he was on the steps of the home of de Mohrenschildt’s daughter when he heard the shot. But de Mohrenschildt was not at his daughter’s home.” Instead, Epstein says, he was staying at the home of “C.E. Tilton in the nearby town of Manalapan, Florida, where he and his 33-year-old daughter Alexandra were staying as guests.”
And Epstein’s got more: “Another minor problem is O’Reilly’s claim to have been an ear-witness to the death. In the 2013 version of his book for younger readers, he wrote: ‘As I knocked on the door, I heard a shotgun blast. He had killed himself.’ According to the police report, however, no one inside or outside the house heard the shot (which was fired in the second-floor hallway outside Nancy Tilton’s bedroom).”
The FNC host’s discrepancies in question were reported first by JFK researcher Jefferson Morley in 2013. CNN recently obtained a high-quality recording from Fonzi’s widow and featured it on-air, including the person who identified himself as O’Reilly saying, “I’m coming down there tomorrow” and “I’m coming to Florida,” after de Mohrenschildt’s suicide. In his 1993 memoir, The Last Investigation, Gaeton Fonzi mentioned those phone conversations on the night of the suicide, describing O’Reilly as a “friend.”
Holt had previously said “the company fully stand(s) behind Bill O’Reilly” and that “This one passage is immaterial to the story being told by this terrific book, and we have no plans to look into this matter.
Here is Henry Holt & Company’s statement:
March 9, 2015 While employed by WFAA-TV in 1977, Bill O’Reilly covered a story in Palm Beach, Florida in connection with the Kennedy assassination that is referenced on page 300 of Killing Kennedy. Former WFAA-TV reporter Bob Sirkin accompanied O’Reilly to Florida for his coverage of the story. Amid the confusion of conflicting accounts, Sirkin provided the following statement to Holt:
BOB SIRKIN: IT’S MARCH 4TH ABOUT 1:55PM EASTERN TIME AND THIS IS BOB SIRKIN WITH A SUMMATION OF MY AND BILL O’REILLYS COVERAGE AND RECORDING OF THE DISAPPEARANCE AND ALLEGED SUICIDE OF CIA OPERATIVE AND CLOSE OSWALD FRIEND, GEORGE DE MOHRENSCHILDT, ON MARCH 28TH AND 29TH OF 1977.
BILL AND I HAD FOUND OUT, HAD DISCOVERED, THAT DE MOHRENSCHILDT, THE LANGUAGE PROFESSOR WAS MISSING FROM HIS POSITION AND ON CAMPUS APARTMENT AT SMALL BISHOP COLLEGE IN DALLAS.
BISHOP COLLEGE WAS A SMALL BLACK SCHOOL FUNDED IN PART BY THE CIA. SO WE BRIEFED OUR ICONIC NEWS DIRECTOR MARTY HAAG ON THIS AND THE FACT THAT BILL HAD JUST LEARNED FROM HIS FRIEND AND INVESTIGATOR FOR THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON ASSASSINATIONS, GAETON FONZI, THAT DE MOHRENSCHILDT WAS IN PALM BEACH, FLORIDA BEING INTERVIEWED FOR AN ARTICLE OR A BOOK BY EDWARD J EPSTEIN AND THAT THE FOLLOWING DAY, MARCH 29TH, DE MOHRENSCHILDT WOULD BE SERVED A SUBPOENA TO APPEAR BEFORE THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON ASSASSINATIONS. MARTY HAAG DISPATCHED O’REILLY AND ME TO WEST PALM BEACH LATE ON THE NIGHT ON MARCH 28TH. WE ARRIVED IN WEST PALM EARLY IN THE MORNING ON MARCH 29TH. AFTER GETTING OURSELVES TOGETHER AND NEEDING OUR FREELANCE CAMERAMAN, FRANK EVERLY, WE PROCEEDED TO THE BREAKERS HOTEL IN PALM BEACH. AND UH, THAT IS WHERE GEORGE DE MOHRENSCHILDT WAS BEING INTERVIEWED BY EDWARD J. EPSTEIN IN AN UPSTAIRS SUITE. SO WITH OUR CAMERA ROLLING, WE KNOCKED ON EPSTEIN’S DOOR. WHEN EPSTEIN OPENS THE DOOR, WE CLEARLY SEE DE MOHRENSCHILDT SITTING IN THE BACKGROUND AT A DINING ROOM TABLE. EPSTEIN BECOMES FURIOUS, CALLS SECURITY. O’REILLY, EVERLY, AND I ARE PROMPTLY ESCORTED OFF THE PROPERTY, BUT THE FOOTAGE OF DE MOHRENSCHILDT THAT WE CAPTURED IN THIS INCIDENT WAS INCLUDED IN MY AND BILL’S WFAA REPORTS FROM FLORIDA.
SO FOLLOWING THE HOTEL INCIDENT, O’REILLY AND I SPLIT UP, ITS NOW EARLY AFTERNOON. BILL GOING TO THE MANALAPAN HOME IN WHICH GEORGE DE MOHRENSCHILDT AND HIS DAUGHTER WERE STAYING, THIS IS THE HOUSE WHERE DE MOHRENSCHILDT’S BODY WAS FOUND. I ON THE OTHER HAND, GO ON TO DO SOME ADDITIONAL REPORTING, PHONING IN A REPORT FOR WFAA INTO THEIR NEWSROOM. LATER, AFTER DE MOHRENSCHILDT ALLEGEDLY COMMITTED SUICIDE, O’REILLY AND I RECONNECT AT THE HOUSE IN MANALAPAN. THAT WAS THE STORY AND STILL IS. IT REMAINS PREPOSTEROUS FOR ANYONE TO CLAIM THAT O’REILLY AND I WERE NOT IN FLORIDA BEFORE, DURING, AND FOLLOWING DE MOHRENSCHILDT’S DEATH. AND BY THE WAY, EDWARD J. EPSTEIN, WROTE IN HIS DIARY ABOUT MARCH 29TH, THE FACT THAT HE WAS ENGAGED IN THIS LONG FOUR DAY INTERVIEW WITH DE MOHRENSCHILDT. HE BROKE FOR LUNCH AT 1:30 AND THEN AT 3:45, ACCORDING TO THE DIARY NOTES, HE LEARNED OF DE MOHRENSCHILDT’S DEATH. THANK YOU.
In the phone call recording made back then, someone identifying himself as Bill O’Reilly, who sounds like the FNC primetime star, is heard asking Fonzi, “You hear anything about it?”
In his 2012 book Killing Kennedy, O’Reilly wrote that he knocked on the door of a South Florida home when suddenly he “heard the shotgun blast that marked the suicide” of George de Mohrenschildt, a Russian immigrant who knew Lee Harvey Oswald. Plugging his book, O’Reilly said on FNC he “was about to knock on the door” when de Mohrenschildt “blew his brains out with a shotgun.”
The discrepancies were first reported by JFK researcher Jefferson Morley in 2013. CNN obtained higher-quality recordings from Fonzi’s widow and featured it recently, reporting that the phone call made in 1977, O’Reilly did not indicate he was near the scene of the suicide or that had heard the gunshot.
“What’s the story?” O’Reilly asked in the recording played on CNN.
“They don’t know,” Fonzi said.
“Nobody knows,” O’Reilly replied.
“I’m coming down there tomorrow,” the person identifying themselves as O’Reilly said in the recording. “I’m coming to Florida.”
Holt had previously said the company fully stand(s) behind Bill O’Reilly” and that, “This one passage is immaterial to the story being told by this terrific book and we have no plans to look into this matter.
In his 1993 memoir, The Last Investigation, Gaeton Fonzi mentioned those phone conversations on the night of the suicide and described O’Reilly as a “friend.”