Bill O'Reilly's Publishers Stand by Fox News Host Over Disputed Books

Bill O'Reilly - P 2015
AP Images/Invision

Bill O'Reilly - P 2015

In other cases, text was changed or copies withdrawn from sale.

Bill O’Reilly’s publishers Crown Archetype and Henry Holt are standing by the Fox News star after errors were discovered in two of his books.

The news comes in the wake of more than a week of reports about inaccuracies in his description of the danger he faced in reporting on the 1982 Falklands War and other conflicts. The inaccuracies were first reported by David Corn in Mother Jones. He was prompted to look into O’Reilly after NBC News anchor Brian Williams was suspended for six months for exaggerating the danger he faced while reporting on the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict.

The revelations about O’Reilly’s books come from Keep It Pithy: Useful Observations in a Tough World, published by Random House’s Crown Archetype imprint in 2013, and Killing Kennedy, published by Macmillan imprint Henry Holt in 2012.

In Keep It Pithy, O’Reilly described watching terrorists kill civilians with bombs. The Washington Post reported that a Fox News spokesperson said, “O'Reilly was not an eyewitness to any bombings or injuries in Northern Ireland. Instead, he was shown photos of bombings by Protestant police officers.”

In Killing Kennedy, O’Reilly and co-author Martin Dugard described the 1977 suicide of Russian emigre George de Mohrenschildt, who was friends with Lee Harvey Oswald and was being asked to appear before a congressional committee looking into the death of President Kennedy. In the book they wrote, a “reporter knocked on the door of de Mohrenschildt's daughter's home, he heard the shotgun blast that marked the suicide of the Russian … that reporter's name is Bill O’Reilly.”

Media Matters reports that O’Reilly wasn’t in Florida at the time of the shooting and so couldn’t have witnessed the events.

In an email to Media Matters, David Drake, senior vp and deputy publisher at Crown Publishing Group, wrote, “Crown will continue to publish our author’s book just as he wrote it.”

A Henry Holt spokesperson said, “We fully stand behind Bill O’Reilly and his best-seller Killing Kennedy and we’re very proud to count him as one of our most important authors. This one passage is immaterial to the story being told by this terrific book and we have no plans to look into this matter.”

In other instances, publishers have made changes. Two notable recent examples include journalist Jonah Lehrer and actress Lena Dunham. Lehrer’s How We Decide was withdrawn by publisher Houghton Mifflin after it was revealed he fabricated quotes from Bob Dylan.

Random House agreed to change future editions of Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl to make clear that the “Barry” who sexually assaulted her in college was a pseudonym and was not meant to describe a real student named Barry, a conservative activist, who attended Oberlin at the same time as Dunham.