Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor George Will is increasing his criticism of his Fox News colleague Bill O'Reilly and his newest book Killing Reagan, detailing the major problems with O'Reilly's claims after the Fox host denounced Will as a hack.
Will first penned his criticism of O'Reilly's book in a November 5 column in The Washington Post, where he wrote that Killing Reagan will "distort the public's understanding of Reagan's presidency" and questioned the sourcing and authenticity of claims made by O'Reilly, concluding that it was "nonsensical history and execrable citizenship."
O'Reilly responded on his show that night by calling Will's piece "libel" and challenging him to appear on the show and debate the book. On November 6, the pair sparred on The O'Reilly Factor and O'Reilly called Will a hack and accused Will of "actively misleading the American people."
On November 10, Will followed up his criticism of O'Reilly's book in a column titled, "Bill O'Reilly makes a mess of history." In the column, Will railed against the premise of O'Reilly's book and described O'Reilly as an interloper, writing:
Were the lungs the seat of wisdom, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly would be wise, but they are not and he is not. So it is not astonishing that he is doubling down on his wager that the truth cannot catch up with him. It has, however, already done so.
O'Reilly "reports" that the trauma of the assassination attempt was somehow causally related to the "fact" that Reagan was frequently so mentally incompetent that senior aides contemplated using the Constitution's 25th Amendment to remove him from office. But neither O'Reilly nor [co-author Martin] Dugard spoke with any of those aides -- not with Ed Meese, Jim Baker, George Shultz or any of the scores of others who could, and would, have demolished O'Reilly's theory. O'Reilly now airily dismisses them because they "have skin in the game." His is an interesting approach to writing history: Never talk to anyone with firsthand knowledge of your subject.
O'Reilly impales himself on a contradiction: He says his book is "laudatory" about Reagan -- and that it is being attacked by Reagan "guardians" and "loyalists." How odd. Liberals, who have long recognized that to discredit conservatism they must devalue Reagan's presidency, surely are delighted with O'Reilly's assistance. The diaspora of Reagan administration alumni, and the conservative movement, now recognize O'Reilly as an opportunistic interloper