George Will should be ashamed of himself : Bill O'Reilly, Fox News host
Updated on: 02 Dec 2015
This is an exclusive interview with Bill O'Reilly about the Killing Reagan controversy and the future of the 'Killing' series*
Bill O'Reilly has hosted FOX News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor" since 1996. On weeknights, "The Factor" attracts more than five million viewers, making it the most popular show on cable news.
O'Reilly is also a prolific author. In 2011, after five best-selling books and a memoir, O'Reilly and co-writer Martin Dugard began writing about history in what has developed into the bestselling "Killing" series. Killing Lincoln was first, followed by Killing Kennedy, Killing Jesus, Killing Patton, and most recently, Killing Reagan.
This week, and every week since its release in late September, Killing Reagan has ranked #1 on the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover nonfiction — only dipping once to #2.
My exclusive interview with Bill O'Reilly focuses on the recent controversy concerning the historical accuracy of Killing Reagan. My interview was conducted by phone on November 13.
Adams: When you and Killing Reagan co-writer Martin Dugard first conceived of the book, was one of your objectives to separate the man from the myth?
O'Reilly: All the Killing books are written from a point of view of telling the reader, showing the reader, what exactly happened in the framework of what story we are telling — they are not biographies.
People who have read the Killing books, and I don't believe George Will has read the book, I could be wrong but I don't believe he has read them … people who read the Killing books understand that they are not a cradle to grave exposition of the subject.
So we are writing Killing Reagan, basically saying the man was almost killed — what happened to him physically and mentally after that — not what he did at Reykjavik not any of that — and that is where the point of view comes in on all the Killing books.
Adams: Can you elaborate on the following statement you made by naming names or providing more detail?
"George Will regurgitates attacks on the book from Reagan loyalists who tried to get the book Killing Reagan spiked even before it was published because they wanted a deification of the president, not an honest look at him."
O'Reilly: When we were drawing close to finishing writing the book we looked around to get a couple people to fact check, a couple people who were very familiar with the subject — we do this on all the books — so we came across a couple people in California. Martin Dugard is the guy who basically heads that up and sent them the book.
And one of them basically said, I don't want you to do any editing, after she saw the product that has anything negative to say about Ronald Reagan. OK, and we said fine. Annalise somebody was her name.
Then Dugard started to get a few calls from Chris Cox, former congressman from California, who I mentioned on the program, and Gov. Pete Wilson was another, saying that you better not say anything negative about Ronald Reagan.
Then I got a message from somebody at 21st Century Fox in the hierarchy, saying I hear you are writing a hatchet job on Ronald Reagan. I am not going to do an intercompany exposition, but it absolutely happened and of course we said it was not true — Killing Reagan is a laudatory book, but it is an honest look at the president and what happened to him after he was shot.
So pressure was put upon us, and we did not succumb to that pressure, and the book came out.
Adams: Are you actively tracking down the elusive James Cannon memo that is central to George Will's criticism and referred to in Cannon's 2011 New York Times obituary that reads: