After berating NBC News anchor Brian Williams for his dishonest claims of being shot at while covering the Iraq War and attacking the “liberal media” as a whole, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is getting a taste of his own medicine.
Mother Jones, which brought us all Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” moment, has investigated O’Reilly’s claims that he was a war correspondent for CBS during the Falklands war and saw combat during the conflict between England and Argentina.
O’Reilly once said, “I’ve been there. That’s really what separates me from most of these bloviators. I bloviate, but I bloviate about stuff I’ve seen. They bloviate about stuff that they haven’t.”
MJ put together a list of instances when O’Reilly “touted his time as a war correspondent.” They include:
- In his 2001 book, The No Spin Zone: Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America, O’Reilly stated, “You know that I am not easily shocked. I’ve reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands.”
- Conservative journalist Tucker Carlson, in a 2003 book, described how O’Reilly answered a question during a Washington panel discussion about media coverage of the Afghanistan war: “Rather than simply answer the question, O’Reilly began by trying to establish his own bona fides as a war correspondent. ‘I’ve covered wars, okay? I’ve been there. The Falklands, Northern Ireland, the Middle East. I’ve almost been killed three times, okay.'”
- In a 2004 column about US soldiers fighting in Iraq, O’Reilly noted, “Having survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands war, I know that life-and-death decisions are made in a flash.”
- In 2008, he took a shot at journalist Bill Moyers, saying, “I missed Moyers in the war zones of [the] Falkland conflict in Argentina, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland. I looked for Bill, but I didn’t see him.”
- In April 2013, while discussing the Boston Marathon bombing, O’Reilly shared a heroic tale of his exploits in the Falklands war:
I was in a situation one time, in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands, where my photographer got run down and then hit his head and was bleeding from the ear on the concrete. And the army was chasing us. I had to make a decision. And I dragged him off, you know, but at the same time, I’m looking around and trying to do my job, but I figure I had to get this guy out of there because that was more important.
But as MJ pointed out, in The No Spin Zone, O’Reilly’s “own account of his time in Argentina … contains no reference to … experiencing or covering any combat during the Falklands war,” and that there is nothing “indicating that [he] witnessed the fighting between the British and Argentine military forces – or that he got anywhere close to the Falkland Islands.”
In fact, there were less than 40 journalists on the ground with troops during the conflict, and according to Susan Zirinsky, a CBS News producer who managed coverage of the Falklands war from Buenos Aires, basically none of them were American.
“You weren’t allowed on by the Argentinians. No CBS person got there,” Zirinsky told MJ.
Her statement was also backed up by CBS’s lead correspondent during the conflict, Bob Schieffer, who said,
“Nobody from CBS got to the Falklands. I came close. We’d been trying to get somebody down there. It was impossible … For us, you were a thousand miles from where the fighting was. So we had some great meals.”
MJ goes on to describe other factual inconsistencies in O’Reilly’s accounts of his time in Argentina, including his coverage of protests in Buenos Aires, which weren’t part of the war.
During his rant against Williams and the media last week, O’Reilly said of his show,
“We’ve made some mistakes in the past but very few … We take great pains to present you with information that can be verified … Reporting comes with a big responsibility; the Founding Fathers made that point very clearly. They said to us, ‘We’ll give you freedom. We’ll protect you from government intrusion. But, in return, you, the press must be honest.”
Apparently, just like with everyone else at Fox News, none of that applies to them. As long as they get to be on camera, spewing hate, the facts simply don’t matter. They point the finger at any and every other news organization (and basically anyone who isn’t white and Republican) while ignoring their own blatant lies.
Read the full report on O’Reilly’s lies at Mother Jones.