But I would argue that the ubiquitous "Mr. O" has earned every criticism I have ever leveled at him in this space. I have felt the need to comment on O'Reilly's opinions and behavior because he is, in my opinion, a pompous ass who constantly regales his audience with streams of egocentric, self-promoting rhetoric, interrupted only by the short breaks he takes to belittle his guests---often, even including those who agree with him!
Those of you who watch "The O'Reilly Factor" will also be aware that, during those broadcasts, Mr. O'Reilly often makes reference to his days as a history teacher. More recently, he has written and published (with Martin Dugard) a series of books (which he refers to as "The Killing Books") that cover the deaths of important historical figures. To wit: "Killing Lincoln", "Killing Jesus", "Killing Kennedy" and "Killing Patton". The avowed purpose of these books is to bring the truth about these people and the events surrounding their deaths to the general reading public and to do so in an entertaining and engaging way. This is an admirable goal and I must admit to my own pettiness in initially refusing to read any of these books based solely on my dislike for the author as discussed above. Eventually, however, I did pick up a copy of "Killing Lincoln" at a book store and paged through it looking for the bibliography. I found none, only chapter notes, and since my own academic disciplines are history and political science and I was trained to be suspicious of the scholarship and the research behind any book that did not have an extensive bibliography, I viewed "Killing Lincoln" with a jaundiced eye.
That said, a close friend recently gave me copies of both "Killing Lincoln" and "Killing Kennedy" which he had just finished and which he thought I would find of interest. So, last night, I opened and started reading "Killing Kennedy" . I got to page 12! On page 12, Mr. O'Reilly lauds and directly quotes from JFK's inaugural address. The quotation, as presented by Mr. O, reads: " 'Ask not what your country can do for you...but what (sic) you can do for your country' "
But, that's not what Kennedy said! As anyone who has seen the video of the speech which is endlessly broadcast every November in remembrance of the assassination knows, the line should read, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
"Knit picking" you may say. "No Big Deal" you may say.
But Wait, I say----how can this self described history teacher, pontificating icon of cable TV, holder of a Masters Degree from Harvard and world renowned author of popular history books misquote so badly, in a book about JFK, what is, arguably, the most famous speech John Kennedy ever gave?
Not only that, but after I was stopped in my tracks on page 12, I read a little further until I got to page 20 where I found that when JFK was the skipper of PT 109, he was "...a young second lieutenant...". This statement is not only wrong, it is stupid on its face. The US Navy does not have second lieutenants! Rather, it has ensigns (equal to Army and Marine second lieutenants), lieutenants junior grade (equal to Army and Marine first lieutenants, and lieutenants (equal to Army and Marine Captains). It seems to me that if one is writing a book, the central character of which served in the Navy and the author is going to throw around references to rank while touting his books as rigorously researched, he should be more familiar with the rank structure of the subject service than is indicated here. In fact, I just "googled" JFK and found that his rank when he commanded PT109 was Lieutenant, USN. That bit of research took about two minutes! Authors who make these sorts of mistakes can, in my view, make no claim, as O'Reilly often does, to the meticulousness of their research!
I don't think I'm being harsh at all and I don't think I'll spend any more time on the killing books! I don't trust the research.