On an April 17, 2013 episode of The O’Reilly Factor, Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly’s repeated claims that he saw combat while covering the 1982 Falklands War is coming under question.
In that episode O’Reilly stated:
“I was in a situation one time in a war in Argentina in the Falklands, where my photographer got run down and hit his head and was bleeding from the ear on the concrete, and the army was chasing us,” O’Reilly said on air on the aforementioned date.
However, a report published by Mother Jones Thursday alleges that O’Reilly was nowhere near the fighting between the United Kingdom and Argentina. Former colleagues of O’Reilly’s at CBS News said that no American correspondents reached the war zone. According to them, O’Reilly and the U.S. Press Corps were 1,200 miles away in Buenos Aires.
“Nobody from CBS got to the Falklands. I came close. We’d been trying to get somebody down there. It was impossible,” said Bob Schieffer, CBS News’ lead Falklands War correspondent at the time. “For us, you were a thousand miles from where the fighting was. So we had some great meals.”
Susan Zirinsky, a long time CBS journalist who managed CBS’s war coverage from Buenos Aires, said the military junta prevented American journalists from reaching the islands. She also said she does not remember what O’Reilly did in Argentina.
O’Reilly cited his time as a war correspondent several times over the years to show that he understands “life-and-death decisions” and is “not easily shocked.” He specifically used his coverage of the Falklands War in a response to an attack from journalist Bill Moyers.
“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,” O’Reilly said.
After hearing of the allegations O’Reilly called David Corn, the Washington bureau chief at Mother Jones who published the piece, a “liar and “despicable guttersnipe.” He also called the article “a piece of garbage.”
“It’s a hit piece,” O’Reilly said. “Everything I said about what I reported in South and Central America is true. Everything.”
O’Reilly said he never claimed to have stepped foot on the Falkland Islands while he was covering the war.
“I was not on the Falkland Islands, and I never said I was. I was in Buenos Aires,” he explained. “In Buenos Aires we were in a combat situation after the Argentines surrendered.”
Corn responded by saying O’Reilly was hiding behind name-calling and refusing to account for valid inconsistencies between his war stories and reality. “He said he was in the war zone during the Falkland Island conflicts — the conflict was in the Falkland Islands, it was not in Buenos Aires,” Corn said to the Politico blog. “He covered a protest after the war was over in Buenos Aires. I don’t think that’s a reasonable definition of a combat situation. If you look up ‘combat situation’ in the dictionary, it’s not ‘an ugly protest.’’
Corn also stated he gave Fox News and O’Reilly more than nine hours to address the allegations before he made them public.