Not long after wagging his finger at NBC anchor Brian Williams for embellishing stories about his war coverage, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly now faces questions about his own tales covering the Falklands War in the 1980s.
An article by Mother Jones published on Thursday raised the issue, contrasting several statements from O’Reilly over the years with the account of his time covering the war in his 2001 book.
Shortly after the article was published on Thursday night, O’Reilly called it “bullshit” and denied he’d embellished anything.
But the Mother Jones article, written by David Corn and Daniel Schulman, found discrepancies in things the Fox News host had said, including about his time working at CBS News earlier in his career.
In a 2013 episode of “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox, the host described being “in the Falklands.”
“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,” O’Reilly said, according to Mother Jones.
“And the army was chasing us,” he said. “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.”
Mother Jones noted that O’Reilly’s book, “The No Spin Zone: Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America,” contained “no references to O’Reilly experiencing or covering any combat during the Falklands war.”
In fact, Mother Jones reported, no American reporters ever made it to the Falklands Islands, the only place where combat took place.
The piece also noted that O’Reilly wrote in his book about covering a protest for CBS News in Buenos Aires after the war was over. The book described a violent demonstration in which people were gunned down, according to the magazine. But that description, Mother Jones noted, conflicts with reports at the time, including from his own CBS bureau.
In his book, it was during the protest in Buenos Aires that O’Reilly described rescuing his cameraman amid the chaos, Mother Jones reported.
Both in his book and in a 2009 appearance on “Hamptons TV,” O’Reilly stated that the Argentinian junta shot people dead on the scene, “just gunning these people down, shooting them down in the streets.” (He also said on the TV appearance that he was covering the protest “pretty much by myself because the other CBS news correspondents were hiding in the hotel.”)
Scanning reports from the time in the New York Times, the Miami Herald, and UPI, Mother Jones found no mentions of fatalities at the protests O’Reilly recounted.
The piece also raised questions over a report O’Reilly filed for CBS News from El Salvador, another “active war zone” he described having reported from.
“O’Reilly’s CBS report gave no indication that he had experienced any combat on this assignment in El Salvador,” the magazine reported.
Mother Jones reported that neither O’Reilly nor Fox News returned requests for comment, but O’Reilly did tell Mediaite on Thursday that the report was “total bullshit.”
“Everything I reported is absolutely accurate” he said, and called Mother Jones’ David Corn “a despicable human being.”
“If you were assigned to a war, you put on your resume you covered the Falklands, the Middle East, El Salvador, wherever it is where you were sent. That is what journalists do,” the Fox host told Mediaite.