Is Bill O’Reilly the new Brian Williams? Well, one is a highly respected news anchor while the other is blowhard book salesman with his own show on FOX – but both have been accused of making false claims about covering war zones.
Just two weeks after NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was suspended for six months without pay for misrepresenting events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003, Bill O’Reilly has been accused of making false claims about his coverage of the Falklands War in 1982.
Mother Jones’s David Corn reports that O’Reilly’s stories don’t add up with the facts from the war. O’Reilly has said on multiple occasions that he had spent time in a “war zone” while covering the Falklands conflict as a reporter for CBS News, but CBS News’s chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer says that the only “war zone” was in and around the islands, and “nobody from CBS got to the Falklands.”
For example, 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.” And 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.”
Turns out O’Reilly’s dramatic stories from his time in the Falklands combat zone were actually from Buenos Aires – a thousand miles from where the fighting was. Schieffer, who was the network’s lead correspondent covering the war at the time, said he “came close” to reaching the Falklands, but the task proved “impossible.” He, O’Reilly and other CBS reporters were based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“I was not on the Falkland Islands and I never said I was!” O’Reilly told Politico.
While Brian Williams got a hefty suspension for padding his war reporting, Bill O’Reilly will continue on with the O’Reilly Factor. Makes sense. If FOX News got rid of every anchor who lied or exaggerated, there wouldn’t be anyone left. The whole “Paris No Go Zone” fiasco alone would have cost them half their staff.