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Bill O’Reilly Needs to Either Prove His Dallas-era Suicide Tale or ‘Fess Up—Or Step Aside

Wrapping up a guest appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor” program last night, Fox News host/political commentator Megyn Kelly joked that he had become a real “sweetheart” during the last week, and she wryly wondered why. Kelly was right: the usually combative, right-leaning cable news host has appeared more subdued than usual lately, chastened even. The reason, I believe, is the still-unresolved, ticking time bomb over a story O’Reilly seems to have made up involving his work as a reporter in the 1970s at Dallas’ WFAA Channel 8, about the suicide of a figure in the JFK assassination probe. It’s a tale he needs to come clean about publicly—or else relinquish his top-rated news commentary show.

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Tracy Rowlett, Byron Harris Rip Bill O’Reilly’s Claim in 1970s Suicide Story

A disputed tale about his reporting days in Dallas could turn into a big problem for Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, who has the most-watched program on cable news. The story, as the host of “The O’Reilly Factor” has told it in his books including Killing Kennedy and Kennedy’s Last Days and on the Fox News Channel, occurred during his stint as a reporter for WFAA Channel 8 in the 1970s. Reporting on a figure in the investigation into the John F. Kennedy assassination named George de Mohrenschildt—a Russian emigre who’d befriended Lee Harvey Oswald—O’Reilly claimed that he was standing outside the house in Palm Beach, Florida, where, and when, de Mohrenschildt apparently killed himself with a shotgun blast one day in March of 1977. Wrote O’Reilly: “As I knocked on the door, I heard a shotgun blast. He had killed himself.”

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Japan Meets Texas at Toyota Groundbreaking

At Toyota’s unconventional groundbreaking for its new HQ in Plano yesterday, six so-called “wish trees” were placed behind CEO Jim Lentz inside a big white installation spelling out the word “TOYOTA.” Each tree in the display—they were actually native Texan Yaupon Holly trees—was festooned with little red tags on which students from Plano ISD Academy High School had written their wishes, hopes and dreams. The tags, apparently part of a Japanese cultural tradition, said things like “I hope to be a better artist,” “I want to go to a good college,” and “My dream would be a cure for cancer.” Lentz said the notes would be placed in a time capsule and the holly trees would be planted permanently once the HQ opens in late 2016 or early ’17. “It’s clear,” he said, “that this is the right place to begin the next chapter in Toyota’s history.”

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Pickens: Oil to Hit $90 Again, But Not Before Some Pain in Texas

Here’s an explanation by T. Boone Pickens of the current crude-oil market, in four sentences: Prices are down from their $100-plus highs not because of OPEC but because, thanks to advances in fracking and horizontal drilling, the U.S. has oversupplied the market. However, the price will bounce back from below $50 per barrel into the $90-$100 range again in 12 to 18 months. The reason: excess oil inventories will hit all-time highs in 2015’s first quarter, leading many of the country’s 1,500 oil-drilling rigs to shut down. That in turn will crimp production, spurring the price turnaround by the third quarter.

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Clay and Mike: Bryan Burrough’s Tale of Two Dallas Leaders

As Tim alluded to yesterday, Dallas’ handling of the Ebola crisis has just been put into perspective for a national audience, thanks to Bryan Burrough’s thoroughly reported piece in the new Vanity Fair. Burrough’s lengthy story puts a generally heroic shine on the response by local officials. And it offers a refreshingly frank, behind-the-scenes look at the actions of two powerful local politicians, both Democrats, who someday may aspire to higher office. My initial impression was that the piece portrays County Judge Clay Jenkins as some sort of steely Superman, while Mayor Mike Rawlings comes off as, well, considerably less effective.

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Peppard Project Tells How North Texas Oilmen Became Political Kingmakers

If you’re into history, and Texas history in particular, you’re apt to enjoy a new three-part, multi-media project by Alan Peppard of the Dallas Morning News. In the stories, titled “Islands of the Oil Kings,” Peppard tells how two remote islands off the coast of South Texas became “unlikely centers of power and influence” nearly eight decades ago, thanks to a couple of multimillionaire oilmen from Dallas-Fort Worth. In 1937, Peppard recalls, President Franklin Roosevelt and his 165-foot yacht, the USS Potomac, visited the San Jose and Matagorda islands, which were owned by Sid Richardson of Fort Worth and Dallas’ Clint Murchison Sr., respectively.

That first presidential visit represented nothing less than a “cosmic shuffle,” effectively putting Lyndon Johnson and Dwight Eisenhower en route to the White House, and fashioning Richardson and Murchison as “the first oilmen kingmakers,” Peppard writes. The DMN scribe also dug up some old, black-and-white home movies of FDR fishing and palling around with the Texans, then put together an online mini-documentary in three parts. Peppard says he spent a year working on the “Kings” project, traveling to the islands and dodging a “scary number of rattlesnakes, alligators, mosquitoes, and killer bees.” The first installment runs this Sunday, but it’s available online now. Part two will run Sunday Dec. 14, and part three the Sunday after that.

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Million-dollar Lawsuit Rips Winstead Advice in NCPA Sex Scandal

In recent months, the National Center for Policy Analysis has worked hard to put a sex scandal involving its founder behind it. The free-market think tank fired the founder, John C. Goodman, hired a new leader (tea party star Allen B. West), and scheduled several high-profile speakers for its events. Now, however, the Dallas-based NCPA has filed a lawsuit against a prominent law firm and the firm’s chairman emeritus that revisits the sex scandal in detail. Among other things, the suit asserts that l’affaire Goodman caused the nonprofit organization to lose at least $2 million in fundraising—and nearly put it out of business.

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Luxury Real Estate Experts Had a Lot On Their Minds This Morning

For example: Toyota execs don’t mind lengthy commutes here because they’re coming from California and New York, where the commutes make ours look short by comparison. Echo boomer and baby boomer luxury buyers aren’t nearly as unlike as you might think. There’s an evolution in upper-end home style occurring, with members of the “HGTV Generation” eschewing turrets and columns for a “clean-line aesthetic.” And, sales of new homes in DFW priced at $400K or more are up a whopping 56 percent, year over year. Those were just a few of the nuggets dropped by luxury market experts at this morning’s Residential Real Estate Breakfast Briefing, hosted by D CEO and D Real Estate Daily at the Warwick Melrose Hotel. While more details will follow on D Real Estate Daily, click here now to check out who showed up.

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Think Tank Names Outspoken Conservative Allen West As CEO

Less than six months after losing its founder over a sex scandal, the National Center for Policy Analysis has named Allen B. West, a conservative icon and former Florida congressman, as its CEO. The blunt-talking retired Army officer was elected to the House with the Tea Party wave of 2010, the first African-American Republican congressman from Florida since Reconstruction.

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Tower at UT Southwestern Medical Center To Be Named After Kern Wildenthal

You might call it yet another attempt to atone for past injustices. Today, word comes that Regents of The University of Texas System voted unanimously to name a major research tower at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas after Dr. Kern Wildenthal, the UTSW president from 1986-2008. Wildenthal, you might recall, was dragged by his heels through the mud in a series of Dallas Morning News stories about his expense accounting. Thursday’s action involving the new C. Kern Wildenthal Research Building on the north campus, the Regents said, was taken to recognize Wildenthal’s “extraordinary accomplishments” as both dean of the medical school and president of UT Southwestern. Last year, the Regents also appointed Wildenthal to the honorific title of President Emeritus of the institution. Now, cue the anonymous commenters sure to enjoy vilifying the guy one more time …

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At Think Tank With ‘Magnificent Future,’ Ron Paul Calls for More Liberty, Smaller Government

It lost its founder, and it board of directors has been downsized dramatically under the new interim management. But the 31-year-old National Center for Policy Analysis—which was recently rocked by a sex scandal—appears to be soldiering on in defense of free markets. Friday, the Dallas-based think tank drew 200 people to the Omni hotel here for a luncheon address by libertarian maverick Ron Paul. The three-time presidential candidate was introduced by KSKY talk-show host Mark Davis, who failed to mention the group’s recent troubles, of course, but did contend, pointedly, that “this place has a magnificent future.”

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Ron Paul: Aim for ‘Perfect Safety’ on Ebola Threatens Civil Liberties

Ron Paul, the former Texas congressman, doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with his son Rand, the U.S. senator from Kentucky and possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate. Take the subject of Ebola, for example. Rand isn’t so sure the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is playing straight about how you can catch the virus. But his libertarian/conservative father downplays the threat.

The senior Paul likens the current “hysteria” over the virus—including the attempted quarantining of healthcare workers just back from Africa—to other efforts to deprive Americans of their liberties. “There’s nothing wrong with being cautious. But my caution is, don’t overdo it, because it’s impossible to achieve what you want,” Paul said in Dallas today, a few minutes after addressing a luncheon meeting of the National Center for Policy Analysis. “You’d have to lock up everybody who has a cough.”

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Virgin America’s Straight Talk About Balance Sheets

It’s true that Virgin America has lost a total of $400 million since its founding. But it’s also true that the California-based airline made $10.1 million on $1.4 billion in operating revenue last year—and that revenue has been growing for the last five years at least. So when an incredibly downbeat AP story about the airline’s planned initial public offering appeared in the Dallas Morning News yesterday—the same day Virgin began flights out of Dallas Love Field—was Virgin America’s CEO upset? Not really, David Cush said last night at Virgin’s celebration party at the House of Blues: “I saw a lot of opinion in there, and I’ve seen lots of stories like that.” While the airline has moved in the past and is continuing to move to retool its balance sheet, Cush said, “The important thing is that when you’re a private-equity-owned firm, you don’t give a s*** about your balance sheet or your P&L” [profit and loss statement]. The key is keeping the investor-owners happy, the chief executive added. Virgin’s investors include a hedge fund called Cyrus Capital Partners, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, and Don Carty, former chairman and CEO of AMR Corp.

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The Selling of Al Jazeera America

You’d think that a fledgling cable TV news channel owned by the Qatar-royal family’s Al Jazeera Media Network would be a tough sell in a deep-red state like Texas. But there was Al Jazeera America anchorman John Seigenthaler at a luncheon meeting of the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth the other day, showing the audience a clip from The Colbert Report in which the host was jokingly calling Seigenthaler and his employer part of the al-Qaeda Network. “That looks terrifying,” Stephen Colbert said to the veteran newsman, referring to the Al Jazeera logo. “That is not only Arabic; it looks like Arabic on fire! … It means, ‘The bombing starts at midnight!’ ”

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