“You're A Hack”: Fox's Bill O'Reilly And George Will Spar Over Killing Reagan

George Will To O'Reilly: “You're Something Of An Expert On Actively Misleading [The American] People”

From the November 6 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

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BILL O'REILLY: Personal story segment tonight, an attack on my book, Killing Reagan. Syndicated columnist George Will who also works here at the Fox News Channel, wrote a column titled “Bill O'Reilly Slanders Ronald Reagan.” After reading the column, I can say with certainty George Will libels Bill O'Reilly. Mr. Will joins us now from Washington. So you write that my book is a “no facts zone.” Let's talk about the facts. Fox News, hard news chief, Mike Clemente who you know, told us that you told him you would call me, before the column was published. Did you call me?

GEORGE WILL: No. And I didn't promise to call you. You have my phone number and if you wanted to call me you could.

O'REILLY: I couldn't care less about it, I didn't know what you were doing. Now are you calling Mr. Clemente a liar?

WILL: No I'm not. I'm saying either you've got it wrong, it would not be the first time you got something wrong --


O'REILLY: OK I have it in writing from Mr. Clemente. So you are either saying Mr. Clemente -- I'm not saying anything. I'm saying that our hard news chief said that you told him you would call me. Are you denying that tonight?

WILL: Do you want to talk about Bill O'Reilly, or about Bill O'Reilly's book?

O'REILLY: OK, my name is O'Reilly. Do you want to deny that Clemente -- do you want to say that he is not telling the truth.

WILL: I'm saying there was a misunderstanding, I've said that Mr. Clemente is a tremendously honest man.

O'REILLY: OK good, because I -- we have it in writing that you were supposed to call me, and did you not call me. And by writing a provocative column like this, you had an obligation as a journalist to do that. Alright, page 245 in Killing Reagan is what your real beef is about. It's a meeting on March 2, 1987, the meeting was called by Howard Baker, then the new chief of staff for Ronald Reagan. Before the meeting took place, Howard Baker asked his assistant, James Cannon to investigate Ronald Reagan, to investigate him. Are you denying any of that is true?

GEORGE WILL: Of course not. You say that that memo he wrote is the centerpiece of a book. It's a memo that you have never seen. It's a memo that you didn't even ask to try to see from the Reagan library, until after the book was in print. It's a memo that the Reagan library doesn't have, and you should know it doesn't have, because the author was not a member of the White House staff.


WILL: The memo was presented to Howard Baker, Howard Baker took one look at it and said to the man who wrote it “This is not the Ronald Reagan I know,” and that was the end of the influence the memo ever had.

O'REILLY: That was not the end of it. You're not telling the truth. You are actively misleading the American people, you are lying.

WILL: You're something of an expert on actively misleading people.

O'REILLY: You are lying and here is more proof. Edmund Morris, do you know who he is? Do you know who Edmund Morris is?

WILL: Go ahead.

O'REILLY: Okay. Here it is is Edwin Morris, quote: “During one unhappy period, when the Iran-Contra scandal coincided with prostrate problems for Mr. Reagan, the president was so withdrawn and confused that papers were surreptitiously drawn up, by staffers concerned he might have to be declared disoriented.” OK? Now that is from the guy who wrote the bio. You want L.A. Times, you want New York Times quotes on it? I got them, I can read them to you.

WILL: You who began this interview by saying I had a moral obligation to call you by fore-writing about your book, wrote a book without feeling any obligation to talk to Ed Meese, George Schultz, Jim Baker, any of the other people who could have refuted the thesis.

O'REILLY: And why did I not talk to them?

WILL: Because they would have refuted the flimsy thesis you have.

O'REILLY: No, because they have skin in the game. We don't talk to people when we're writing our books, to --

WILL: You mean they have knowledge of the game.

O'REILLY: They have skin in the game, emotion in the game, spin in the game. We don't talk to anybody who was derogatory to the Reagans, or anybody who was laudatory. We do our own investigation. You want me to read more? I got more. This meeting absolutely took place on page 245. It was absolutely taken seriously by Mr. Baker and everybody else. And, the conclusion of the meeting was the president was fine. He was capable. And Killing Reagan is a laudatory book toward Ronald Reagan, and you didn't even mention that.

WILL: It is not a laudatory book.

O'REILLY: It is a laudatory book, or you can't read.

WILL: It is doing the work of the left, which knows that in order to discredit conservatism, it must destroy Reagan's reputation as a president. And your book does the work of the American left, with its extreme recklessness.

O'REILLY: Recklessness.

WILL: And when you finally got around after the book's publication, to scheduling an interview with Ed Meese, you then cancelled it saying you were vetting the memo --

O'REILLY: We cancelled it because Ed Meese wanted to come on with conditions. Nobody comes on with conditions.

WILL: It's a memo you haven't even seen, so I do not understand how you vet a memo you've never seen.

O'REILLY: All right, look. Here's the deal, that memo was written. That meeting took place. All of what we write in Killing Reagan is true. You're a hack. You're in with the cabal of the Reagan loyalists who don't want the truth to be told. Killing Reagan is a laudatory book. It praises Ronald Reagan. Yet you didn't call me, when you said you would, that's a fact --

WILL: Why do -- Why do Reagan loyalists not want this laudatory book published?

O'REILLY: Because they wanted a deification. They wanted a deification, they tried to get the book killed before it was even published. And you --

WILL: That, by the way is a lie. That by the way is a lie.

O'REILLY: That isn't a lie. And we can prove it, and you are a hack.


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