If the lasso tightens around Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly's neck after all, it will be the Dallas connection that does it. O'Reilly has improbably wriggled out of other whoppers, like saying he covered a war from 1200 miles away, for example, but so far he hasn't had the balls even to address his Dallas lie.
The key evidence has been out there for a couple years, but finally CNN has found its way to it. Now all of a sudden it's finally obvious why O'Reilly might want to duck this one entirely: the Dallas story doesn't leave him any wriggle room. At all.
We talked about this last week. In his 2012 book, Killing Kennedy, O'Reilly said he was standing on the porch of an important Kennedy assassination conspiracy witness in March of 1977 when the guy shot himself to death.
O'Reilly's construction of the scene suggested it was kind of like the guy was inside the house saying to himself, "Oh, shit, O'Reilly's here, and he's about to solve the whole Kennedy assassination." So, quick, he blew himself away with a shotgun.
Ever since Killing Kennedy came out, real experts on the assassination have been calling bullshit on O'Reilly's story, citing tape-recorded phone calls O'Reilly made that day from Dallas to Palm Beach right after the suicide happened. In his 2013 book, November 22, 1963: Witness to History, Dallas author and journalist Hugh Aynesworth called the story an untruth.
It involves a chapter in O'Reilly's life when he was a young back-bencher at WFAA Channel 8 Television here. Last week Glenn Hunter at D Magazine revived the issue by quoting two of O'Reilly's Channel 8 colleagues at the time saying O'Reilly was in Dallas all that day and ripped the suicide story from a newspaper account.
I followed Hunter with a piece here quoting Aynesworth, who really was in Palm Beach that day, arriving within hours of learning of the suicide. Aynesworth said there was no kid named O'Reilly from Channel 8 anywhere in sight.
The frustrating thing in the Era of Surf Reporting is that people fly around the web a little, pick up some allegations here, some rebuttals there and wind up writing pieces in which there is no effort to get at the underlying reality. The Huffington Post, for example, came to this extremely unsatisfying conclusion last week about the O'Reilly suicide story:
"...with no further evidence than the word of two former employees to challenge the account, it remains a 'he said, she said' situation."
But, no. No. It was never he-said she-said. It was always the tapes -- the tape recordings of O'Reilly calling from Dallas to Palm Beach to find out if it was true the man had already killed himself. You can't be in Dallas making a call to Palm Beach asking about it right after it happened if you were standing on the porch in Palm Beach only hours before when it did happen.
You can listen to the tapes yourself and read a good analysis of them at JFKFacts, a Kennedy assassination study site. It's just not a gray area. O'Reilly lied about this in his book, and he did it in a macabre self-aggrandizing way that makes him look like a bit of a wig-out.
So finally CNN behooves itself to listen to the tapes, and now at long last we've got that lasso hovering right over O'Reilly's head. And then what, you might ask?
What needs to happen next? Should O'Reilly be fired from Fox News, shipped to Gitmo, waterboarded? Oh, hell, I don't know. I don't care. That's sort of between him and his separated-from-reality fan base at Fox.
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He just needs to be asked if he's a liar until he says something about it. Hunter at D put it like this yesterday:
"The irony is that, for O'Reilly, the solution to his JFK problem is simple: Either come forward with proof that he really was in Florida that March day in 1977; or 'fess up to concocting the tale, ask the public for forgiveness, and try to move on. Until he does, he's fair game to be hounded about it during every interview he gives and every public appearance he makes."
Yeah. I don't care if he's a journalist, an entertainer, a political curandero, whatever. This story was a lie. He committed it to print. He needs to answer up for it.
Am I objective about this? Hell, no. Am I taking glee from his humiliation? Enormous glee. Ever since I came across this story the first time, I have been remembering the words of my friend, the late Tony Garrett, a wily campaign consultant who told me once he always prayed at the beginning of a campaign: "Dear Lord, that mine enemy may have written a book."