Fact Check

WikiLeaks Bombshell: Bill O'Reilly and Megan Kelly are Clinton Operatives

Leaked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee don't suggest Bill O'Reilly and Megyn Kelly are surreptitious Clinton operatives.

Published Sept. 21, 2016

WikiLeaks revealed that Bill O'Reilly and Megyn Kelly are covert Hillary Clinton campaign operatives.
What's True

An e-mail leaked in July 2016 listed several Fox News programs among public relations "hits" generated by the Democratic National Committee's communications staff.

What's False

The e-mail doesn't document that anyone at Fox News is "working for" Clinton.

On 20 September 2016, the unreliable USA Supreme web site published an article reporting that DNCLeaks had revealed that Fox News political commentators Bill O'Reilly and Megyn Kelly were secret operatives working for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign:


The article drew information from WikiLeaks' massive dump of Democratic National Committee e-mails in July 2016, which included a 22 April 2016 message from former DNC communications staffer Pablo Manriquez to DNC communications head Luis Miranda:

From: Manriquez, Pablo
Sent: Friday, April 22, 2016 3:17 PM
To: Miranda, Luis
Subject: Re: 27 April - NYC Meeting Agenda

HuffPost NYC wants to meet too about their new livestreaming program in the aftermath of HuffPostLive.

On Apr 22, 2016, at 1:10 PM, Manriquez, Pablo
<ManriquezP@dnc.org<mailto:ManriquezP@dnc.org>> wrote:

This is who I will meet with in NYC. At each meeting, I’ll discuss hits we’ve executed (if relevant) and future hits. Anything I should add?

At Fox News —
• America’s Newsroom HQ Team
• Shepard Smith Reporting Team
• Kelly File Team
• O’Reilly Factor Team

Commentators and conspiracy theorists maintained that this e-mail thread confirmed that Megyn Kelly and Bill O'Reilly had colluded with the DNC to offer Hillary Clinton positive press. The e-mail mentioned "hits we've executed" and "future hits," which were interpreted by some readers as references to "hit pieces" (i.e., attempts to turn public opinion against someone through the appearance of objective reporting or editorializing) — meaning that Fox commentators were colluding with the DNC to attack political opponents of Hillary Clinton (or Democrats in general).

However, Manriquez and Miranda both worked for the DNC's communications arm, a line of work that involves public relations and media coverage. In the public relations industry, the term "hit" (also described as "clips" or simply "coverage") is used to mean coverage or press attention they have secured for clients or employers.

Public relations agency BLASTmedia publishes a public relations glossary that defines the term "hit":

Coverage/Clip/HitsAn article, story, blog or segment that mentions your client. Also refers to the physical copy of that mention that can be given to clients.

PR companies commonly provide lists of successful hits they have secured for clients as examples of media mentions they have obtained. In this case, Manriquez's job was to secure coverage for Hillary Clinton as part of his position, and he listed his "hits" in a report to Miranda, a communications higher-up.

No portion of the e-mail affirmed or even suggested that Fox News (or BuzzFeed, Reuters, NowThis, MSNBC, or CNN) were "operatives" of the Clinton campaign, nor did it document any collusion between Bill O'Reilly, Megyn Kelly, and the DNC.

Earlier in September 2016, USA Supreme advanced a similar falsehood about WikiLeaks and threats supposedly made against Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to force him out of the race.


Ally, Erin.   "Polaroid Receives Major Media Buzz at CES 2016."     R&J Strategic Communications.   15 January 2016.

Beaujon, Andrew.   "ABC News Says Story Craigslist Calls a ‘Hit Piece’ Will Be Fair."     Poynter.   20 November 2014.

Kisor-Madlem, Alyshia.   "Public Relations Pocket Dictionary — 25 PR Terms To Know."     BLASTmedia.   24 March 2013.

Moore, Jack.   "Working at the DNC Sounds Very Cool (Except Not at All)."     GQ.   24 July 2016.

WikiLeaks.   "DNC Email Archive: 13872."     22 July 2016.

RT.   "The Life Of Pablo: Wikileaks Makes Internet Hero Out of Unruly Former DNC Employee."     23 July 2016.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.