Here's Every Claim Made Against Bill O'Reilly So Far
The list of accusations leveled at Bill O'Reilly grows by the day.
What began as a probe into the veracity of the Fox News host's war reporting experience has now snowballed into a slew of alleged lies, exaggerations and inaccuracies.
If you're having trouble keeping all these shifting stories straight, we've got your back. Here are all the major developments so far in The People vs. Bill O'Reilly:
Count 1: Bill O'Reilly Exaggerated His 'War Reporting' Chops
The Allegation: O'Reilly first came under attack last Thursday when Mother Jones' David Corn and Daniel Schulman published a piece challenging the host's claim that he had "reported on the ground in active war zones" and "survived a combat situation" while covering the Falklands War for CBS News in 1982. American reporters were not allowed in the Falklands during the conflict. So how could O'Reilly have been in the war zone?
The Defense: O'Reilly arrived in Buenos Aires shortly before Argentina surrendered to Britain. The Fox host contends that the riots he covered after the war -- demonstrators, angry that the military government had given up, took to the streets in protest -- constituted a "combat situation." When CBS released its coverage of the riots, O'Reilly declared victory, saying the tape showed "horrific” violence. While Corn and others agreed the tape showed a "chaotic, violent protest," they maintain that it was not a "combat situation."
The Verdict: While O'Reilly seems to think clashes between civilians and police constitute "combat," the technical definition of the term involves "fighting between armed forces" -- i.e. the British and Argentine militaries. The streets of Buenos Aires after the war were no doubt dangerous for reporters, but no matter how violent things got, you need two armies to have a war. The Huffington Post has covered the O'Reilly controversy from our headquarters in Greenwich Village -- we can't claim we've been "on the scene" in the host's living room.
Count 2: O'Reilly Lied About Witnessing The Suicide of George de Mohrenschildt
The Allegation: O'Reilly has claimed, both in interviews and in his book Killing Kennedy, to have been present at the suicide of George de Mohrenschildt, a Russian immigrant and friend of JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
"As the reporter knocked on the door of de Mohrenschildt's daughter's home, he heard the shotgun blast that marked the suicide of the Russian, assuring that his relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald would never be fully understood," O'Reilly wrote in Killing Kennedy. "By the way, that reporter's name is Bill O'Reilly."
But the host's former colleagues at Dallas radio station WFAA told liberal watchdog Media Matters that O'Reilly was in Texas when de Mohrenschildt killed himself. "Bill O’Reilly’s a phony," one colleague said. "There’s no other way to put it.”
In addition, Gaeton Fonzi -- "one of the most relentless investigators" on the House Select Committee on Assassinations and a journalist who covered the killing of President Kennedy extensively -- wrote in his autobiography that O'Reilly had called him from Dallas after de Mohrenschildt's death to confirm the suicide.
The Defense: While Fox News has not addressed this specific allegation, it released a general statement of support:
Bill O’Reilly has already addressed several claims leveled against him. This is nothing more than an orchestrated campaign by far left advocates Mother Jones and Media Matters. Responding to the unproven accusation du jour has become an exercise in futility. Fox News maintains its staunch support of O’Reilly, who is no stranger to calculated onslaughts.
O'Reilly's publisher also voiced its support in a statement to The Huffington Post.
"We fully stand behind Bill O’Reilly and his bestseller Killing Kennedy and we’re very proud to count him as one of our most important authors,” a spokesperson said.
The Verdict: The idea that O'Reilly arrived at de Mohrenschildt's daughter's doorstep at the exact moment a gunshot rang out indeed seems apocryphal -- it's almost too cinematic to be true. That said, with no further evidence than the word of two former employees to challenge the account, it remains a "he said, she said" situation.
Count 3: O'Reilly Lied About Witnessing The Execution Of Four Salvadoran Nuns
The Allegation: Wednesday afternoon, Media Matters accused O'Reilly of lying about having witnessed the execution of four nuns in El Salvador while reporting on the country's bloody civil war for CBS News in 1980.
"I was in El Salvador and I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head," O'Reilly said on his program in 2012.
The Defense: Through a spokesperson, O'Reilly told The Huffington Post Wednesday that he had not seen the execution of the nuns first hand, but was rather referencing unaired footage of nuns being murdered that reporters were shown at the time:
While in El Salvador, reporters were shown horrendous images of violence that were never broadcast, including depictions of nuns who were murdered. The mention of the nuns on my program came the day of the Newtown massacre (December 14, 2012). The segment was about evil and how hard it is for folks to comprehend it. I used the murdered nuns as an example of that evil. That's what I am referring to when I say ‘I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head.’ No one could possibly take that segment as reporting on El Salvador.
The Verdict: Much like his Falklands War claims, O'Reilly's tales from El Salvador lead viewers to believe the host was at the center of the actual events -- rather than the periphery. For this one, O'Reilly might get off on a technicality.
Count 4: Bill O'Reilly Lied About Being Attacked During The LA Riots
The Allegation: On Thursday, the Guardian published an article in which six of O'Reilly' former colleagues from "Inside Edition" dispute the host's claims of being "attacked by protesters” during the 1992 LA Riots.
“They were throwing bricks and stones at us,” O’Reilly said in a 2006 interview. “Concrete was raining down on us.”
“It didn’t happen,” Rick Kirkham, the lead reporter on the riots, told the Guardian. “If it did, how come none of the rest of us remember it?”
O'Reilly's former colleagues do, however, remember a single man hurling a chunk of rubble at their camera. The man was allegedly angered by O'Reilly's limousine being parked in "the smoking remains" of his neighborhood. According to two former colleagues, the driver had been polishing the vehicle and O'Reilly yelled at the man, "Don’t you know who I am?”
The Defense: A spokesperson for Fox News declined to comment on the new charges, opting to give The Guardian a familiar defense: The allegations are “nothing more than an orchestrated campaign by far left advocates” and "responding to the unproven accusation du jour has become an exercise in futility."
The Verdict: We're beginning to see a pattern here. O'Reilly was on the scene for protests in Buenos Aires, not a war on the Falkland Islands. He called a man to confirm the death of George de Mohrenschildt, but didn't hear the gunshot himself. He saw images of murdered nuns, but wasn't present for the actual executions. And now one man threw a rock at his camera, instead of an avalanche of bricks, stones and concrete raining down on his head. If not an outright liar, O'Reilly seems to have an issue with exaggeration, taking small kernels of truth and spinning them into tall tales of journalistic heroism.
Count 5: O'Reilly Threatened Journalists From Mother Jones and The New York Times
The Allegation: Throughout the saga, O'Reilly has been accused of threatening journalists reporting on the controversy. O'Reilly said that he "expected David Corn to be in the kill zone" and told a New York Times reporter, "I am coming after you with everything I have."
While left-leaning cable news network MSNBC has largely stayed silent on the story (perhaps because of "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams' own credibility crisis), Rachel Maddow blasted O'Reilly Wednesday night for intimidating journalists, saying it is "untenable" for Fox News to continue to stand by its host.
The Defense: O'Reilly brushed off the idea that he had threatened Corn with actual violence, saying the term "kill zone" was "simply a slang expression."
The Verdict: This one is pretty hard to deny, especially since O'Reilly made a point of telling the Times' reporter "you can take it as a threat." Whether O'Reilly lied about his reporting experience, threatening members of the press crosses a serious line and is unbefitting of a prime time news anchor on any network.
"Like everyone in media today, we are concerned about the safety of our staff," Mother Jones' Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein wrote in a letter to Fox News. "We'd have hoped that statements with this kind of violent tone would not come from a fellow media professional."
But after all the evidence has been compiled -- from from Buenos Aires to El Salvador to Dallas, Texas, and back again -- is Bill O'Reilly ultimately guilty in the court of public opinion? Did he lie to his audience, threatening journalists along the way? What should the consequence be? That's for the public to decide.
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