Bill O'Reilly has said there's “nothing I can do about” the “far-left attacks” over his claim that he personally “heard” the shotgun blast that killed a figure linked to President Kennedy's assassination. But as CNN host Brian Stelter pointed out, O'Reilly could do something very simple that he hasn't done: answer basic questions about major discrepancies undermining his tall tale.
The O'Reilly Factor host claimed on Fox News and in his Kennedy books that he was outside the Florida house where Lee Harvey Oswald friend George de Mohrenschildt was staying when he killed himself in 1977.
His claim hasn't stood up to scrutiny. Under heavy criticism, O'Reilly's only response so far has been to highlight the statement of a former colleague who says O'Reilly was in Florida at the time but is unable to corroborate his gunshot tale.
Here are six lingering questions that O'Reilly won't -- or can't -- answer about his claim that he “heard” de Mohrenschildt's self-inflicted gunshot.
1) Why Is O'Reilly On Tape Saying “I'm Coming To Florida” After Being Informed Of De Mohrenschildt's Florida Suicide?
CNN and reporter Jefferson Morley have posted audio of O'Reilly telling congressional investigator Gaeton Fonzi that he was not in Florida at the time of de Mohrenschildt's death. The audio's authenticity has been confirmed by Fonzi's widow and portions of it match a passage from Fonzi's memoir.
In the recorded remarks, O'Reilly is informed of de Mohrenschildt's suicide and states: “I'm coming down there tomorrow. I'm coming to Florida ... I'm going to get in there tomorrow.” Listen for yourself here.
If O'Reilly was nearby when de Mohrenschildt committed suicide, why is he calling Fonzi on the phone to ask about it? Why does he tell Fonzi, a congressional investigator with subpoena power, that he's “coming to Florida” if he was supposedly already in Florida?
2) Why Can't Anyone Verify That O'Reilly Was On The Doorstep When De Mohrenschildt Shot Himself?
Nobody has corroborated that O'Reilly was outside the residence when de Mohrenschildt shot himself. To the contrary:
- Several of O'Reilly's colleagues at WFAA, and someone who said he was O'Reilly's Florida cameraman, have disputed the notion that O'Reilly could have heard the gunshot.
- People reporting on de Mohrenschildt at the time have called bunk on O'Reilly's claims. Edward Jay Epstein, an investigative reporter and author who taught at MIT and UCLA, wrote in Newsweek that the claim is “impossible,” adding: “How do I know? I was the actual -- and only -- reporter interviewing de Mohrenschildt on the last day of his life in 1977.” Hugh Aynesworth, “one of the world's most respected authorities” on JFK, covered the de Mohrenschildt story and said “I didn't see him [O'Reilly] there. I was at the police department or that house for hours, and he just was not there.”
- The person O'Reilly highlighted for support said “I was not with Bill when he claimed to have heard a shot.”
Why is O'Reilly the only person who can offer support for this alleged fortuitous event? O'Reilly has a media platform and has never been one to shy away from defending himself -- if he's the only person who can back up his story, why hasn't he done so?
3) Why Doesn't The Exhaustive Police Report Mention O'Reilly?
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office death investigation report about de Mohrenschildt's suicide has been posted online by Marquette University Professor John McAdams.
The report is a detailed, 8,000+ word document that tracks the whereabouts of de Mohrenschildt throughout the day. It notes people who interacted with him and were nearby when he shot himself. Bill O'Reilly is not mentioned.
Why would an extensive police report about a high-profile death not mention someone who was supposedly at the scene of a suicide and supposedly heard the fatal gunshot?
4) How Did O'Reilly Hear The Gunshot When Others At The Residence Didn't?
The police report documents five people in and around the house who didn't hear the gunshot (emphasis added):
The victim loaded the weapon, sat in the chair, placed the barrel in his mouth, and pulled the trigger, at 1421 hours, thus, discharging the weapon at an upward angle through the roof of his mouth and into his brain. The shot went unheard by Mrs. [Anna] Viisola, who was working in the kitchen below, as well as by Miss [Lillian] Romanic, who was sunning herself in the back yard; and by the gardener, Coley Wimbley, who also was at the rear of the house in the garden.
This writer interviewed DIANNE and LAURIE TISDALE, who live at 1720 South Ocean Boulevard, in Manalapan, Florida, but who were working in an apartment above the garage at the Tilton residence, at the time of the incident. They were painting and repairing the apartment, so that Laurie Tisdale could eventually move into it. Neither of them stated that they heard a gunshot or were suspicious that anything strange or unusual had occurred in the main house.
De Mohrenschildt's body was not discovered immediately because no one heard the gunshot. The body was found “At 1439 hours” -- 18 minutes later -- when the victim's daughter “went upstairs to give her father some toilet articles” and “discovered his body and summoned the help of the rest of the household, who notified the Manalapan Police Department.”
How did O'Reilly hear the gunshot when others in and around the house didn't?
5) If O'Reilly Was At The Residence, Why Didn't The Police Find Anyone Who Saw “Strangers” At The Time Of Death?
The police report describes several people stating that there were no “strangers” at the residence:
- The house maid: “Mrs. Viisola did not see or hear anything suspicious or out of the ordinary. She did not see any strangers in or around the residence and did not have reason to suspect that someone had entered the house without her knowing it.”
- The cook: “Miss Romanic did not observe any strangers in the area during this time, and she did not have reason to believe that there was any suspicious or unusual activity in the house.”
- The maintenance man: “He was asked if he had seen any strangers around the house prior to the incident, and he replied that he had been working all around the exterior of the residence on that day, and he did not see anyone approach the house.”
At least one visitor was noticed when he arrived at the house. The report notes that in the morning, Gaeton Fonzi knocked on the door and “appeared at the Tilton residence inquiring about the victim and his whereabouts. Mr. Fonzi left after speaking with Alexandra deMohrenschildt and saying that he would return at a later time to see her father.”
Why did no one remember a stranger near the residence?
6) Did O'Reilly Talk To The Police About What He Allegedly Heard?
The police interviewed numerous people who interacted with de Mohrenschildt during the day and were nearby at the time of the suicide.
If O'Reilly heard the gunshot, as he claims, did he give a statement to the police? If he did, where is it? If he didn't, why wouldn't he tell the police what he supposedly heard and saw?
If O'Reilly was the only person to actually hear the gunshot -- again, a unique position -- why wouldn't he volunteer this information to investigators?