Theodore's World: Killing Bill: Reagan aides assail O'Reilly's book, 'Total B.S.'

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October 10, 2015

Killing Bill: Reagan aides assail O'Reilly's book, 'Total B.S.'

Leading Reagan biographers are saying Bill O'Reilly's latest release not only dishonors Ronald Reagan but is doing a disservice to history.

Killing Bill: Reagan aides assail O'Reilly's book, 'Total B.S.'

The new "historical" book, "Killing Reagan, The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency," co-authored by Fox News star and New York Times best-selling author Bill O'Reilly, is coming under fire from former Reagan aides who are calling it bogus.

"The book is garbage, total B.S.," said celebrated Reagan biographer Craig Shirley, slapping down the themes that former first lady Nancy Reagan held the power in the White House and that Ronald Reagan was sometimes out of touch with reality after the 1981 assassination attempt.

Shirley and three other Reagan biographers Steven Hayward, Paul Kengor and Kiron Skinner, along with a handful of former Reagan aides, are planning a broadside to challenge the book in the coming days.

John Heubusch, executive director, of The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library, said several plan to pen articles countering the image left in "Killing Reagan" that on some days Reagan was brilliant, while on others he holed up in the residence watching soap operas.

"The book does a disservice to history," said Heubusch.

Richard Allen, the former Reagan era national security advisor said, "This is simply an unserious attempt that blunders into, I believe, plagiarism, simplicity and deception."

At the time of John Hinckley's assassination attempt, the event "Killing Reagan" hinges on, Allen was in charge of crisis management. But Allen said he was never contacted by the authors.

Shirley said the push back campaign is aimed at the book's accuracy. "We're not going to beat him commercially, but we are going to beat him historically," said Shirley, who next week is releasing his third Reagan book, "Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan."

O'Reilly and co-author Martin Dugard have a trail of "Killing" best sellers, but this is the first time they turned their attention to a figure who has hundreds of former aides still alive and ready to fact-check.

Questions about the Reagan book started as soon as O'Reilly began promoting it and claiming new information about the Gipper's mental state that nearly forced top aides to invoke the 25th Amendment and force him from office.

Describing the book on ABC and in a C-SPAN interview, he told of a long internal investigation into Reagan's mental state that culminated in a revealing and depressing March 1987 memo by James Cannon, a former White House aide, presented to top aides, including new Chief of Staff Howard Baker and counsel A.B. Culvahouse.

The team then attended a lunch and, O'Reilly said on ABC, quizzed Reagan before feeling confident the president was mentally fit. "If he hadn't passed it, they were going to move against him," said O'Reilly on ABC's This Week.

"That's the key part of the book," he said on C-SPAN. "That's the lynchpin of the book," he said on ABC.

It isn't new, nor accurate, however. The 1988 Reagan biography "Landslide: The Unmaking of the President 1984-1988," by two reporters, opens with the same story, in greater detail, and ends with Cannon recanting his memo. The book also didn't mention any quiz.

It created a firestorm when it was released, and Reagan and former White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater dismissed the suggestion that aides were poised to dump Reagan.

"Still fiction," Fitzwater said this week.

Culvahouse also rejected any indication that the staff was going to declare mutiny. The first to fire at "Killing Reagan," Culvahouse in a forthcoming column, said, "The myth that Howard Baker and I, at the Monday luncheon or otherwise, were contemplating whether President Reagan should be removed from office under the Twenty-Fifth Amendment was thoroughly discredited when it first appeared 27 years ago. It should be returned to the dustbin of fiction masquerading as history."

The authors of "Landslide," Jane Mayer, of the Wall Street Journal, and Doyle McManus, with the Los Angeles Times, said the investigation was short. On ABC's This Week, O'Reilly said, "they spent a lot of time on this investigation."

Mayer, now with the New Yorker, emailed, "Among the bizarre things about it is that O'Reilly's making it out to be a crisis that stretched over great lengths of time. Our book was very clear it lasted a weekend."

The book also quotes from the Mayo Clinic diagnosis of Reagan's Alzheimer's disease. "'Over the past twelve months we began to notice from President Reagan's test results symptoms indicating the possibility of early stage Alzheimer's Disease,' reads the diagnosis," quotes the book. "Additional testing and an extensive observation over the past few weeks have led us to conclude that President Reagan is entering the early stages of this disease."

Mayo's press team, however, told Secrets that they have never released the diagnosis and never talked to anyone associated with O'Reilly's book. "Patient privacy and confidentiality is fundamental to Mayo Clinic. We confirm that President Reagan's medical records were never shared with outside authors or journalists, nor was Mayo Clinic contacted by anyone associated with this book," said spokeswoman Duska Anastasijevic.

Publisher Henry Holt and Co. did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Wild Thing's comment,..........

I am so glad these people are speaking out about the vile pos O'Reillys' book on Reagan. Michael his son has been tweeting as well that neither O'Reilly nor his researcher for the book called or tried to contact Michael or his mom Nancy or his sister or brother Ron.

His other book Killing Jesus was also said to have several non truths in it too.

Posted by Wild Thing at October 10, 2015 12:55 AM


O'Reilly thinks he's an expert on everything.

Posted by: BobF at October 10, 2015 10:55 AM