Killing Bill O’Reilly: Why He Is Dead Wrong About Ronald Reagan

The “centerpiece” of Bill O’Reilly’s new book, “Killing Reagan,” was a memo he did not see while writing his book and still to this day has not seen. After being exposed as having never seen a memo he previously claimed he was “vetting” after previously claiming it was the centerpiece, O’Reilly now claims the Reagan Library is hiding it even though they never had it.

In other words, the Reagan Library is hiding a memo they have never had and that O’Reilly has never seen. Get it? Some scholarship. Oliver Stone, call your office.

When I write books, I don’t claim documents which I have never seen to be the “centerpiece” to my works. To avoid one of O’Reilly convenient straw men, no one is denying the memo was written or existed. We are simply denying O’Reilly ever saw it, much less ever “vetted” it.

This would be why George Will took exception to O’Reilly’s characterization recently: “Will has joined with several former Reagan administration officials in objecting to the book’s characterization of the former president as occasionally mentally incapable to serve, a decline accelerated by the assassination attempt.”

The Mice Retaliate

That characterization is based on a certain memo written by James Cannon, now deceased, who along with Tommy Griscom and A.B. Culvahouse were going into the Ronald Reagan White House with Sen. Howard Baker to clean up the mess created by fired Chief of Staff Don Regan and his aides, known derisively as “The Mice.” This was early 1987.

Don Regan was disgraced and the Mice embittered at President Reagan, ready to get revenge. The title of Don Regan’s get-even autobiography, “And The Horse You Rode In On,” spoke volumes as to Regan’s outlook and attitude.

When Baker and company were in the White House, Baker asked each to keep his eyes and ears open and to let him know what was working, what wasn’t, in Reagan’s White House. Cannon took the directive off in a different direction, writing a memorandum questioning Reagan’s mental acuity. He printed three copies, one for each of Baker’s men and Baker himself.

Baker read and dismissively replied, “This is not the Ronald Reagan I just saw.” Culvahouse was also disdainful, and the two handed back the memos to Cannon. Cannon had written a memo dismissive of Reagan’s mental sharpness without having once sat down with the object of his thoughts, even though Reagan was just down the hall.

Instead, he called in “The Mice” one by one, and they spun Cannon badly, falsely claiming Reagan was watching soap operas all day, that he was unengaged, and that Nancy Reagan was running the White House and the world. The New York Times reported of The Mice at the time “they were perceived as yes-men with no strong ideological convictions.” (They are still in Washington.)

Don Regan was known to demand a new joke every day from The Mice so he could, in turn, greet Reagan with a joke each morning, as if that was somehow important to Reagan. Don Regan was also rude, brusque, arrogant, and known to insist he be announced publically, along with President Reagan, when entering a room. The Mice simply and blithely followed orders.

Besides, James Cannon Recanted

More importantly Cannon, shortly after meeting Reagan personally, recanted his own memo, saying “the old fellow looks fine.” In his book, O’Reilly did not mention this vitally important passage. Never let the facts get in the way of a good yarn.

Obviously, Cannon leaked his memo to journalist Jane Mayer for her 1988 book, “Landslide,” but shortly thereafter disavowed it, again in her book, saying Reagan was fine. He then knew he’d been hoaxed by the bitter Mice. He did not recant his memo under pressure, as O’Reilly has claimed.

Also, the memo in question was written before Cannon was a White House employee, thus his papers would not have been treated as presidential documents, thus never deposited in the National Archives at the Reagan Library and Foundation. So O’Reilly and his co-author, Martin Dugard, never saw the memo because it was never in the National Archives, even as they claimed it was the “centerpiece” to their book, “Killing Reagan.” Since Culvahouse and Baker gave theirs back to Cannon, presumably they are with Cannon’s private papers, wherever they are today.

Further, as Mayer wrote in the New Yorker in 2011, “Dr. Lawrence Altman, who covered Reagan’s health for the Times during his Presidency, wrote that in ‘my extensive interviews with his White House doctors, key aides and others, I found no evidence that Mr. Reagan exhibited signs of dementia as president.’ And, wrote Altman, Reagan’s official biographer, Edmund Morris, never saw any signs of Alzheimer’s and he had close, unfettered access to the Gipper for years. A thousand Reagan White House aides will also attest as to Reagan’s superior faculties. But all this evidence is of little interest to O’Reilly.

Too bad O’Reilly chose to write a very bad book about Reagan, although I understand his other books also have serious historical inaccuracies as well. Too bad he chose to join liberals in falsely tearing Reagan down. Much damage has been done as a result. Reagan biographers will have to take the shovels out again and clean up the disarray O’Reilly made.

George Will was right. Bill O’Reilly has “made a mess of history.”

Craig Shirley is a Reagan biographer, having written four books on the Gipper including his newest, “Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan.”

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

Watch: A Viewer Called O’Reilly’s Interview ‘Disgusting’- His 21-Second Response Says It All

Bill O’Reilly stands by what he wrote about Ronald Reagan, and vowed Monday to “confront deceit head-on” as he continued his war of words with columnist George Will.

On Monday, O’Reilly used one segment of his Fox News show to read some of what he said were 10,000 emails regarding a feisty Friday segment with Will, who recently castigated O’Reilly’s new book.

“This book is nonsensical history and execrable citizenship, and should come with a warning: ‘Caution — you are about to enter a no-facts zone,’” Will wrote.

O’Reilly’s book, Killing Reagan, suggests President Reagan suffered early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease as a result of his wounds in the March 1981 assassination attempt. After Will’s comments, O’Reilly invited him to appear on his Friday show, which devolved rapidly into an argument.

“All of what we write in ‘Killing Reagan’ is true. You’re a hack!” O’Reilly told Will at one point.

Some viewers found the duel a bit much. On Monday, O’Reilly read some of their comments on his show.

“O’Reilly, long time viewer,” wrote Henry Jeulch. “Your aggressive reaction to George Will was disgusting. How about a bit of civility?”

O’Reilly offered a vivid defense.

“There are two kinds of people in the world, Henry,” O’Reilly replied. “Those who confront deceit head-on. And those who take other avenues. If you do indeed watch me, you know which kind of guy I am. Every word of Killing Reagan is true. George Will chose to attack the book, The Factor, and me — I called him on it.”

In the aftermath of Friday’s show, Will had called O’Reilly “unhinged.” O’Reilly took a different approach to their differences.

“I believe his elitist presentation doesn’t fit our format, nothing personal,” O’Reilly said. “Based upon his remarks over the years he sees me as a vulgarian…who does not deserve the forum I have, so there is little common ground between us.”

h/t: TheBlaze

WATCH What Happens When Bill O’Reilly Absolutely EXPLODES On His Guest: ‘You’re a Hack, Bye!’

For those to whom a good, old-fashioned, no-holds-barred argument is vintage entertainment, Friday’s duel of wordslingers between Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and conservative columnist George Will was a classic.

O’Reilly’s new book, Killing Reagan, offers a different perspective on Reagan’s life and career after the March 1981 attempt on his life. On Thursday, Will took the book to task in his Washington Post column.

The “book’s perfunctory pieties about Reagan’s greatness are inundated by its flood of regurgitated slanders about his supposed lassitude and manipulability,” Will wrote. “This book is nonsensical history and execrable citizenship, and should come with a warning: ‘Caution — you are about to enter a no-facts zone.’”

O’Reilly invited Will on his show to discuss the book man to man. It didn’t start well.

“Let’s talk about the facts,” O’Reilly said. “Fox News hard news chief Mike Clemente told us that you told him you would call me before the column was published. Did you call me?”

“No, and I didn’t promise to call you,” Will shot back. “You have my phone number and if you wanted to call me, you could.”

“I couldn’t care less about it, I didn’t know what you were doing. Are you calling Mr. Clemente a liar?” O’Reilly bluntly asked.

After back and forth over who said what to whom and when, they focused on the main issue — O’Reilly’s book. O’Reilly accused Will of “actively misleading the American people.”

“You are something of an expert on misleading people,” Will responded.

“You are lying!” O’Reilly countered, insisting his book was historically accurate.

Will said O’Reilly’s characterization of Reagan was “doing the work of the left.”

“All of what we write in ‘Killing Reagan’ is true. You’re a hack!” O’Reilly shouted. “You are 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 did not call me when you said you would, that’s a fact.”

O’Reilly said there was pressure on him to deify Reagan. He said Reagan loyalists “tried to get the book killed before it was even published.”

“That is a lie,” Will said, as the interview approached is crescendo. “That by the way is a lie.”

O’Reilly had one last line.

“That isn’t a lie and we can prove it and you are a hack! Bye!” O’Reilly said.

h/t: TheBlaze

What Bill O’Reilly’s New Book On Ronald Reagan Gets Wrong About Ronald Reagan

Editor’s note: This article first appeared at The Washington Post.

“Killing Reagan,” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, is supposed to be a book of new scholarship on the Reagan presidency. Instead, it restates old claims and rumors, virtually all of which have been discredited by the historical record.

In this best-selling book, there are no endnotes, no bibliography, no long list of interviewees and only a smattering of footnotes. There is a section titled “Sources,” but it is only two-and-a-half pages long. It includes about two dozen sources, but that is not adequate for a subject, Ronald Reagan, who has been the focus of thousands of books and articles and who was one of the most consequential political figures of the 20th century. The works of three of us are not noted at all, and between the four of us, we have written 19 books on Reagan, not to mention countless articles. The sources section does, however, reference long-questionable works, including the sensational 1991 attack by Kitty Kelley — which is clearly incorporated throughout the book — and the 1999 biography by Edmund Morris, roundly criticized for its intermingling of fact and fiction.

To the authors’ credit, the sources section notes the use of excellent archives such as the Reagan Library, the Reagan Ranch Center and the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. And yet, the acknowledgment of those archives is somewhat puzzling, given that the archives make clear that Reagan was a far more hands-on, engaged and all-around deeply involved president than many of the partisan accounts alleged in their unfair caricatures of him in the 1980s. Frankly, we had thought that demeaning, flawed caricature — Reagan as the doodling old fool who spent too much time sleeping at Cabinet meetings and watching old movies — had been permanently put to rest by recent scholarship. Unfortunately, “Killing Reagan” shows that the old misinformation (if not disinformation) still remains with us, like a demon that cannot be exorcised. It regurgitates and resurrects much material that we had thought (and hoped) was dead and done.

There are small and large mistakes throughout “Killing Reagan.” Repeatedly, Ronald Prescott Reagan is referred to as “Ron Jr,” a minor matter but a revealing one. The book states that Reagan’s radio broadcasts of the late 1970s were once a week, but they were delivered five times a week. There are dozens of Kelley-type references to horoscope readers, astrologers, an imperious Nancy running the country and generally a persistent, clueless and oblivious Ronald Reagan — addle-brained, out of touch, dangerously uninformed. The most common word used to describe Reagan is probably “confused.”

A large part of the storyline refers to the erroneous contention that there was serious consideration about removing Reagan from office via the 25th Amendment after John Hinckley Jr. tried to assassinate him in 1981. What’s so remarkable about the 11 days Reagan spent in the hospital recovering from his wounds is that beyond the standard discussion of temporary presidential disability among some of the president’s closest aides, none of these aides or cabinet members attempted to invoke the 25th Amendment or succession laws. Former Attorney General Ed Meese, who was not interviewed for this book but who served as Reagan’s closest aide and friend for many years, was dismissive of the allegation about the 25th Amendment as utterly and completely false. We four have interviewed Meese often, and some of us have talked to him about this book and its sourcing.

Read: When President Reagan Was Shot

Read: When President Reagan Was Shot

It speaks volumes that none of the hundreds of former Reagan White House staffers has stepped forward to corroborate the story. Reagan’s national security adviser, Richard V. Allen, told us flatly that “Killing Reagan” is “garbage.” Allen was also there the day Reagan was shot, but again, neither O’Reilly nor Dugard spoke to him. They list only four people interviewed, including Lesley Stahl — a CBS journalist who was not a primary source and who was always extremely dismissive of Reagan’s cognitive abilities.

As far as Reagan’s mental acuity, which this book presents as nose-diving very early in his presidency, only in 1994 did Reagan’s doctors at the Mayo Clinic find evidence of Alzheimer’s, six years after he left office, and they issued a statement at the time stating such. By all accounts, the hundreds of people who interacted with Reagan on a daily basis found a bright, erudite and engaged man.

Among the most scandalizing material in the book are the early sections which show Reagan to be sexually very promiscuous, a callous cad robbing young starlets of their virginity. In the book, his sexual encounters went on not only between marriages but in the early years of his marriage to Nancy — including literally as Nancy was in labor giving birth to their daughter.

In a recent interview with the Daily Caller, O’Reilly answered questions about his sources for lurid statements about Reagan’s use of women. (The book’s publisher did not respond to a request for comment for this article.)

We double-sourced everything with names. We didn’t use any blind sources at all. And it’s all in the book, in the back of the book, where it came from. Everything is there. There really wasn’t any deniability about it. You know, Nancy mentioned it to friends. Friends wrote about it. Friends put their names on it.

But there is no citation in the back of the book. If the source for that section is in the back of the book, then it could be Kitty Kelley, because these are the kind of claims she has made. The book itself does not make the source clear. This kind of shocking material must be clearly sourced.

Elsewhere, O’Reilly states definitively that Nancy was concerned about the 1980 debate with Jimmy Carter, and that she worried “Ronnie would say something foolish.” Yet again, no source is provided. We can state categorically that Nancy was worried about what Carter, with his reputation for meanness, might do to Reagan, but she never worried about what Reagan might do to himself.

There is also this claim from the 1980 campaign, during which a copy of Carter’s debate briefing book came into the Reagan campaign’s possession: “To Nancy, gaining access to Carter’s playbook is a windfall to the Reagan campaign, not a crime.” This is not correct. For one, Nancy knew nothing of the purloined Carter playbook. And Reagan gained no advantage in the debates from the briefing books, because they were never used. As one of us wrote in a 2009 book, they were deemed worthless by Jim Baker and his debate prep team, as all they contained was a recitation of Reagan’s positions on issues. Reagan did not “know in advance how Carter will respond to every question,” as O’Reilly-Dugard mistakenly write. Besides, Carter himself has said the outcome of the debate didn’t damage his campaign.

We do not expect O’Reilly and Dugard to know every detail, but such is the problem with consulting only a very limited number of sources, and citing even fewer.

Read: What the Butler Gets Wrong About Ronald Reagan and Race

Read: What the Butler Gets Wrong About Ronald Reagan and Race

Finally, the most objectionable claim in the book is also a thematic one. The claim is that there was a White House coup in the making due to Reagan’s supposed inability to do his job. That claim is based on a deeply flawed memo written by James Cannon, an aide to former Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.), called in late in the Reagan years to clean up the mess created by controversial Chief of Staff Don Regan. In the memo, Cannon claimed that Reagan was “out of it” as of his second term, spending his days bemused in front of a television. (As O’Reilly put it in the Daily Caller interview, “Cannon came in and said, ‘You know what, a lot of days he’s not able to do his job. He doesn’t even come down from the residence. He watches soap operas all day long.’”)

In reality, Regan was being tossed out of the White House for his perceived ineffectiveness in the Reagan administration — for his sizable ego — and he had aides whose loyalty was to him and not Reagan. Cannon put various assessments by some of Regan’s aides in a single, discredited memo. On this single source, O’Reilly and Dugard seem to have based the centrality of the book’s thesis. To the Daily Caller, O’Reilly called it the “centerpiece of the book.”

Who discredited the memo? Cannon himself, as he related in the 1988 book “Landslide,” by Jane Mayer and Doyle McManus. He doubled back after writing the memo, saying Reagan was fit as a fiddle.

Perhaps Donald Regan’s henchmen had exaggerated the president’s frailties, [Cannon] thought. Perhaps they were trying to justify an internal coup… Could the president they described — the inattentive, incurious man who watched television rather than attend to the affairs of state — be the same as the genial, charming man across the table? What the hell is going on here? Cannon wondered. The old fella looks just dandy.

The O’Reilly-Dugard treatment also continually fails to balance such claims with more recent information that has since repeatedly invalidated the original bad sources.

And alas, the book concludes with a mysterious line stating that “there are those who contend” that the ghost of Ronald Reagan today haunts his ranch. Most of us have been to the ranch many times, and we’ve never heard this tale. We checked with the Reagan Ranch Center itself. The staff is likewise perplexed with this claim. They referred us to an odd article that appeared “out of the blue” in L.A. Weekly about 10 years ago, titled “The Gipper’s Ghost,” but otherwise have no knowledge of any supernatural activity. “No one with any credibility has ever attested to this,” the ranch told us. In many ways, this enigmatic anecdote is a fitting capstone to “Killing Reagan” and its shortcomings: Sure, “sources” can be found for this Reagan “ghost” story. But that does not mean that the sources — or the book — are worthwhile.

Craig Shirley is the author of four books on Ronald Reagan, including the newly released “Last Act: The Final Years and Enduring Legacy of Ronald Reagan.” Kiron K. Skinner directs Carnegie Mellon University’s Institute for Politics and Strategy and is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, whose latest book on Ronald Reagan is “Reagan’s Legacy in a World Transformed.” Steven F. Hayward is a Ronald Reagan distinguished visiting professor of public policy at Pepperdine University.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

Watch: Reagan’s Son Makes Stunning Announcement About His Father And Trump- Not What Many Wanted To Hear

Many people are comparing Donald Trump to late president Ronald Reagan, but according to his son Michael Reagan, these comparisons are unfounded.

The son of the late president talked about his distaste for the Trump campaign and the American people’s enthralled reaction to the billionaire in a series of regular interviews with Newsmax over the summer. Reagan said his father really believed in what he called the “11th Commandment,” which is “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

Reagan said Trump does nothing but attacks and his father would be shocked.

“My father would be appalled,” Reagan said. “On behalf of my father and the Reagan family to see someone like this who just personally attacks people time and time and time again is absolutely appalling to me and I hope all the voters start to see through Donald Trump and the kind of candidate that he his and the kind of president he may end up being.”

He said the constant attacks is doing nothing for the political system because it isn’t allowing people to be informed on issues that matter. Reagan said that includes himself.

“I don’t like and I don’t appreciate the things he says about Jeb Bush, or what he says about Gov. Perry or anybody else. I want to hear what he’s going to do and when he tells us what he’s going to do, I can be for or against it,” Reagan said.

Reagan said in a similar interview with NewsMax TV in August that he is growing weary of Trump, and other Republican candidates, invoking his father’s name in their campaigns. He said he much rather hear their ideas and policies.

“These people looking to wrap themselves in the mantle of Ronald Reagan are doing a disservice to themselves and a disservice to my father,” he said. “Wrap yourself in your own mantle, tell us who you are.”

He is also critical of the Republican businessman, who still remains at the top of the polls, because Reagan said Trump isn’t talking a lot about his policies. So far, he doesn’t like what he is hearing Trump saying on immigration. Reagan said birthright citizenship is here to stay.

“There’s not a court in the land that’s going to overturn and step on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution with having to do with birthright in this country,” he said.

Reagan said deporting all illegals won’t really solve this country’s problems and American citizens may be their own worst enemy.

“I know there’s people who say ‘oh, if we just get the illegals out, if we just get that birthright away, that somehow things are going to be better in America.’ That’s not true. The problem in America is basically Americans,” Reagan said.