Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on Wednesday explained that he previously described seeing nuns “get shot” in the 1980s in El Salvador because he had seen photographs of such incidents.
O’Reilly was responding to a report by liberal watchdog Media Matters on Wednesday, which accused the Fox host of saying contradictory things about whether he had witnessed nuns being killed in El Salvador while covering a war in the 1980s.
O’Reilly talked to Mediaite later on Wednesday, saying that what he meant in those statements was that he had seen “images” of nuns being killed, not that he had witnessed them himself.
“While in El Salvador, reporters were shown horrendous images of violence that were never broadcast, including depictions of nuns who were murdered,” he told Mediaite.
During a Dec. 14, 2012 episode of “The O’Reilly Factor,” O’Reilly talked about the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He compared it to something he said he’d seen earlier in his career.
“I was in El Salvador and I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head,” O’Reilly said, according to Media Matters.
He explained to Mediaite on Wednesday that he brought up El Salvador while discussing the Sandy Hook shooting to talk about “evil.”
“I used the murdered nuns as an example of that evil,” O’Reilly told the website. “That’s what I am referring to when I say ‘I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head.’ No one could possibly take that segment as reporting on El Salvador.”
Media Matters also pointed to a Sept. 27, 2005 episode of O’Reilly’s radio show in which he said, “I’ve seen guys gun down nuns in El Salvador.”
O’Reilly did not specifically mention the 2005 quote when speaking to Mediaite.
In his 2001 book, “The No-Spin Zone,” as well as in another episode of his TV show, O’Reilly said he did not arrive in the country until 1981, after the reported instances of nuns being murdered, according to Media Matters. (He also reportedly made no reference to seeing anyone killed in his book.)
In a 2009 interview with “Hamptons TV,” O’Reilly also seemed to describe arriving in the El Salvador after the nuns were massacred. He described speaking to a priest there while covering the war.
“I was talking to the guy because these nuns had been slaughtered in El Salvador, and I was down there right after that,” he says on video. “They shot like a dozen, killed a dozen nuns.
Media Matters wrote that the contradiction exposed a “fabrication.”
The report came a day after another Media Matters article alleging that O’Reilly manufactured a story in which he was on the scene during the suicide of a key figure in the investigation of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
A report by Mother Jones earlier this month, questioning O’Reilly’s record covering the Falklands War, kicked off these further investigations of the Fox host’s past statements and war tales.