PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Author and cable news host Bill O’Reilly discussed his latest book, Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Almost Changed the Presidency, and in it, he makes some shocking revelations, including how close the President came to dying after being shot by would-be assassin John Hinckley and that secret meetings were held to discuss his removal from office years later due to his precipitous mental decline.
O’Reilly, talking with Dom Giordano on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT, said the attempt on his life had long lasting implications that very few people were aware of:
“You can’t have a trauma like that, where he came so close to death, the surgeons were frightened that he was going to go on the operating table, that he was going to go out because the surgery was so intense. The real interesting part of the story is that a couple of weeks later, there he is in his jammies with Nancy and everybody is going, wow! What a great recovery. He’s smiling and he’s waving and then everybody breathes a sigh of relief that the President is okay, but he really isn’t okay. Nobody knows that. He makes such a remarkable comeback and he was so courageous in doing that, both physically and psychologically, that is what the take away of the book is.”
He dismissed blowback he’s received regarding secret meetings to assess the President’s mental capabilities as veiled efforts to cover up what actually happened during the Reagan Presidency:
“The critics of the book have nothing because we have documented facts that say this. There’s no dispute. The dispute seems to be, well why did you write it? The reason I wrote it is I’m a historian. [Co-author Martin] Degard and I are historians. If you read the book, then you see how noble and courageous Reagan is to overcome what was befalling him.”
O’Reilly also addressed the seeming randomness of the shooting that really featured little planning on the part of the shooter:
“It was just luck because he was in DC, Hinckley, and he’s reading the paper, the Washington Post, and he sees that Reagan’s giving a speech at the Hilton hotel and he wasn’t even convinced that he was going to shoot him then, but he takes his gun and he puts it in his jacket and he walks down to the Hilton and he finds himself literally feet away from the President and he decides to do the deed.”