Mother Jones writer David Corn appeared to have Bill O’Reilly on the ropes, drawing comparisons to Brian Williams’ fabrications for O’Reilly’s coverage of the Falklands War for CBS in 1982.
Then the latest edition of the O’Reilly Factor aired.
O’Reilly had already called the David Corn article entitled, “Bill O’Reilly Has His Own Brian Williams Problem,” a hit piece and a smear campaign from a “low-circulation” (read: irrelevant) left-wing publication.
But those were just words. On Friday’s Factor, Bill decided to bring the proof that Corn had stumbled.
During his show’s Talking Points segment, O’Reilly said he spent “most of last night digging through his basement and found documents from CBS News from his time in Buenos Aires covering the Falklands War,” which he then said he would show to viewers.
“I never said I was on the Falkland Islands, as Corn purports. I said I covered the Falklands War — which I did.”
Not only did O’Reilly cover the war as indicated, he even received high commendations for it as he demonstrated with a CBS internal memo from 33 years ago regarding his work that was sent to the CBS bureau chief in Buenos Aires by the news desk in New York City. The text follows.
“Doyle, O’Reilly didn’t have the time last night but would like to say many thanks for the riot piece last night. WCBS-TV and WCAU-TV both took the entire piece, instead of stripping it for pix. They called to say thanks for a fine piece… Thanks again. Your piece made the late feed, a winner last night.”
In statements after the Factor signed off, David Corn began to backtrack, noting that he “never said” O’Reilly didn’t cover the Falklands War, “or that the footage he obtained was not valuable for CBS News” — he did — only that Mother Jones was able to find no indication of the level of violence that O’Reilly had indicated aside from “angry protesters who set fires, broke store windows, and jostled reporters.”
O’Reilly’s revelations have put the publication and its reporter on the defensive, and since O’Reilly can corroborate that he was there and that his work mattered for CBS, from here it’s going to be a “my word against his” type of thing.
But since David Corn wasn’t there and O’Reilly clearly was, it will prove unlikely that Corn succeeds in making this a “Brian Williams problem,” as his piece originally suggested.
Do you think David Corn and/or Mother Jones should issue an apology? Sound off in the comments section.