Fox News Anchor Accused Of His Own Big War-Story Lies

Photo: Courtesy of Fox News.
Last Wednesday, Bill O’Reilly kicked off his show by using Brian Williams' recent suspension from NBC as a fulcrum for discussing the way American media distorts the news. “I just wish the press was half as responsible as the men who forged the nation,” he said. But, recent reporting by Mother Jones looks like O’Reilly may be a pot calling the kettle black: An investigation by the magazine showed that the talking head has been exaggerating — if not flat-out lying — for years.

O'Reilly's main problem is another war-zone story: He often claims to have been in the middle of combat in the Falklands, Argentina in the '80s — a spot where Mother Jones' sources say no American reporters were permitted. 

The tale that best shows off O'Reilly's bravery goes like this: His photographer was hit in the head and was “bleeding from the ear on the concrete,” he says in a clip from his show. “And the army was chasing us. 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.”

Other reporters on the ground during the rapid-fire 1982 fight claim that scenario is impossible. “Nobody got to the war zone during the Falklands war,” a longtime CBS News producer told Mother Jones, adding that the military junta kept U.S. reporters from reaching the islands. What’s more: In his 2001 book, The No Spin Zone, O’Reilly describes his time in Argentina without a single reference to covering any combat during the Falklands war — or any mention that he was anywhere close to the combat zone in the first place.

Unsurprisingly, O'Reilly lashed back at the accusations, calling the author of the Mother Jones story a "liar and a smear merchant" in a follow-up interview with Fox's own site. He did not, however, explain how he was where he says he was in the Falklands or attempt to clear up the confusion.

The host also draws a distinction between his job and Williams', saying he’s not required to give viewers unbiased facts. “It’s perfectly fine for commentators like me to give my opinion about events — that’s what I’m paid to do… But when hard-news people deceive their readers to advance a political agenda, that’s when the American people get hurt.”

Our take? Perhaps someone should serve O’Reilly up a slice of humble pie: The fact that he’s paid for his opinion doesn’t absolve him of telling the truth, and there seems to be a wide chasm between his version of events and the facts themselves. 

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