The host of the Fox News Channel show The O’Reilly Factor, Bill O’Reilly, is speaking out against allegations that he exaggerated details of his wartime reporting. Mother Jones magazine recently questioned statements made by O’Reilly regarding his experiences while reporting on the 1982 Falklands War for CBS News.
In the article, called Bill O’Reilly Has His Own Brian Williams Problem, the magazine likens the statements by O’Reilly to the misrepresentations made by NBC News anchor Brian Williams regarding his own coverage of the Iraq War. Williams is serving a suspension of six months and remains under investigation for questionable statements he made about other stories he covered.
In the article, Mother Jones takes issue with a statement in O’Reilly’s 2001 book, The No Spin Zone: Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America, in which he states that he has reported from “active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands.” The publication takes issue with the use of the words “war zone,” saying that the author was never in the Falklands while the war was raging.
In addition, the article points out a 2013 airing of The O’Reilly Factor in which O’Reilly claims to have rescued his photographer while the two were “in a war zone,” after the camera man was knocked down, hitting his head on the concrete with blood coming from his ear. The magazine points out that the incident in which the photographer was knocked to the ground occurred after the Falklands War, during a bloody demonstration that occurred in Buenos Aires, which is over 1,200 miles away from the Falkland Islands.
On Thursday, O’Reilly dismissed what he calls a “trumped-up” situation that occurred “33 years ago,” adding that he believes that the story in Mother Jones is simply a politically-motivated effort by the publication to “divert attention from the Williams situation.” In addition, he says that he has never said that he was in the Falklands while the war was raging, explaining that using the words “war zone” was simply “shorthand.” He asserts that “everybody knows” that there were no media outlets from America on the Falklands during the war.
O’Reilly calls the article “delusional” for saying that the violent demonstrations which took place in the capital of Argentina on the day on which the country surrendered were not considered to be combat. The director of the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs, Frank Sesno, was in Buenos Aires when the protestss took place. On CNN, he said that although the demonstrations were “threatening,” they could in no way be considered to be a war zone.
For their part, Mother Jones has asked O’Reilly to apologize for saying that their Washington editor, David Corn, should be “in the kill zone” for reporting the story. The magazines co-editors, Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, sent a letter on Friday to the executive vice president of Fox News, Bill Shine, and a spokeswoman for the channel to say that the host’s comments “cross[ed] a line.” O’Reilly responded on Friday, saying that the phrase is only “a slang expression.”
The host worked as a CBS News correspondent in 1981-82. After his stint with CBS, he went to ABC News and, in 1989, left in order to take over for David Frost as anchor of Inside Edition, a syndicated show. He has been with Fox News Channel since it first aired in 1996, and his show has consistently led the ratings for cable news.
The Falklands War was fought between Argentina and Great Britain. The war, which lasted 10 weeks, killed over 900 people.
By Jennifer Pfalz