Bill O’Reilly‘s claims of reporting in a war zone in the 1980’s is being challenged in an explosive new piece by Mother Jones.
The website’s David Corn highlights several instances where the Fox News primetime host claimed to have covered the 1982 fighting in the Falklands War between Argentina and England up close — the issue is few reporters were able to cover the conflict up close due to the remote location of the war zone. It was 1,400 miles offshore between the British territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
“Few reporters were able to witness and report on the combat that claimed the lives of about 900 Argentine and British troops,” Corn wrote for Mother Jones.
“I’ve been there. That’s really what separates me from most of these other bloviators,” O’Reilly has said in recent years about covering wars he gives his opinion about. “I bloviate, but I bloviate about stuff I’ve seen. They bloviate about stuff that they haven’t.”
[In his article, Corn cites a number of instances in which O'Reilly described his experience as a war correspondent during the Falklands conflict:
["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.'"]
O’Reilly was actually present at a public protest in Buenos Aires against the military junta directly after the Argentine surrendered to England—a point media critics are suggesting is not the equivalent of a war zone; the term O’Reilly has used on TV and in books.
O’Reilly shot back in a slew of interviews Thursday night.
“Everything I said is true,” O’Reilly told TVNewser. “Everything I said is verifiable. The video that I got led the Dan Rather program that night. This is insane. I never said I was on the Falkland Islands, nobody was.”
“This guy [David Corn] is far-left assassin. That’s what he does. Everybody knows that,” O’Reilly added. In a separate interview with Mediaite, he called Corn’s report “total bullshit.”
Corn responded to O’Reilly’s “name calling” in an interview with Politico Thursday.
“To me, the issue here is whether a media figure and journalist like Bill O’Reilly, who claims to be a truth teller, can get away without answering questions about specific statements he’s made, and hide behind name calling,” Corn told Politico. “I would encourage anyone else who covers this story to get Bill O’Reilly to answer those quesitons — if not to me, than to anyone else.”
Fox News cited interviews Bill O’Reilly has done Thursday night in response to TheWrap’s request for comment.
-- The Star Tribune contributed to this report.