Audio recordings from 1977 published on Sunday by CNN could end up doing some serious damage in Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s fight over his credibility.
In the recordings, a young O’Reilly reportedly could be heard talking about traveling to Florida to cover the suicide of man tied to the investigation of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
The details in the audio would appear to conflict directly with O’Reilly’s 2012 book, Killing Kennedy, in which he described being outside the house where the suicide took place at the moment it happened.
In the book O’Reilly wrote about covering the JFK case in the 1970s for Dallas television station WFAA. He wrote that he was at the doorstep of George de Mohrenschildt, a friend of Kennedy’s assassin, when the man committed suicide.
“In March of 1977 a young reporter knocked on the door of de Mohrenschildt’s daughter’s home, he heard the shotgun blast that marked the suicide of the Russian,” he wrote.
“That reporter’s name is Bill O’Reilly,” the passage concluded. The claim was replicated in the children’s version of O’Reilly’s Kennedy book.
But audio recordings, originally published in 2013 by researcher Jefferson Morely and released with better sound quality by CNN on Sunday, showed that O’Reilly called investigator Gaeton Fonzi to confirm de Mohrenschildt’s death.
What’s more, O’Reilly discusses traveling to Florida to cover the suicide.
“I’m coming down there tomorrow,” he could be heard saying on the tape. “I’m coming to Florida.”
“I’m gonna try to get a night flight out of here, if I can,” O’Reilly added. “But I might have to go tomorrow morning.”
Fox News did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Last week, the liberal watchdog Media Matters released a report casting doubt on O’Reilly’s story about the suicide, citing Morely’s audio, a police report, and statements from O’Reilly’s former colleagues.
Before the clearer audio was released on Sunday, O’Reilly’s publishers told CNN “we fully stand behind Bill O’Reilly.”
“This one passage is immaterial to the story being told by this terrific book and we have no plans to look into this matter,” the publisher said.
Listen to the audio, courtesy of CNN: