Fox News host Bill O’Reilly angrily denounced a Mother Jones report on Thursday questioning his statements regarding his reporting during the Falklands War in 1982.
“It’s a hit piece,” O’Reilly told Politico. “Everything I said about what I reported in South and Central America is true. Everything.”
The report from Mother Jones‘ Washington bureau chief David Corn highlighted discrepancies between O’Reilly’s description of his experiences in Argentina in a 2001 book and several public statements regarding his time there.
In the book, Corn stated, O’Reilly says he was reporting for CBS News in Buenos Aires — more than 1,000 miles from the actual warzone — when he was “right in the middle” of a major riot that caused several fatalities. The riot, which was widely reported, followed Argentina’s surrender to United Kingdom forces in July 1982, ending the Falklands conflict. O’Reilly says a soldier aimed his weapon toward him, and that he and other journalists were tear-gassed and attacked before he escaped the scene.
“I managed to make it back to the Sheraton with the best news footage I have ever seen,” O’Reilly wrote. “This was major violence up close and personal, and it was an important international story.”
O’Reilly also claimed in the book that he was “big-footed” when the network’s story that evening featured lead correspondent Bob Schieffer instead of him. Mother Jones posted footage of CBS’ report, which can be seen below.
But according to Corn, though CBS and other U.S. outlets covered the rioting in the city, there were no reported deaths during the incident. However, O’Reilly claimed there was widespread violence during the protest in a television interview in 2009.
“There must have been 5 or 6,000 people, and the army was standing between the people and the presidential palace,” O’Reilly said at the time. “Here in the United States we would do tear gas and rubber bullets. Here, they were doing real bullets. They were just gunning these people down, shooting them down in the streets.”
But while his book did not mention covering actual combat in the Falklands, Corn wrote, the Factor host has described himself on multiple occasions as having reported there, including a 2008 episode in which he took a swipe at Bill Moyers.
“I missed Moyers in the war zones of El Salvador, the Falklands conflict in Argentina and the Middle East and Northern Ireland,” O’Reilly said. “I looked for Bill, but I didn’t see him.”
According to other reporters — including Schiffer, O’Reilly’s colleague during that conflict — it was impossible to see any media outlets near the fighting.
“Nobody from CBS got to the Falklands. I came close. We’d been trying to get somebody down there. It was impossible,” Schiffer said. “For us, you were a thousand miles from where the fighting was. So we had some great meals.”
On Thursday, O’Reilly called Corn a “despicable guttersnipe” and said he never claimed to have been on the islands.
“It was clear that I did not say I was in the Falkland Islands,” he told Politico. “I’ve done myriad interviews over the years and I never said that.”
Corn, an MSNBC contributor, posted his own response to O’Reilly on Twitter:
This Just In: O'Reilly resorts to spin and name-calling. Stay classy. http://t.co/UT72GjJDuv
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) February 19, 2015