More trouble for Bill O’Reilly — the scandal surrounding the Fox News star’s war stories, and his claims to have “seen the combat up close and personal” during the 1982 Falklands War between Argentina and Great Britain were flatly contradicted by several of O’Reilly’s former CBS News colleagues Sunday.
O’Reilly was a 32-year-old fledgling reporter for CBS in June of 1982, when Britain invaded the Falkland Islands to reclaim control from the Argentine government.
But former CBS reporters and staff members who also covered that war told CNN on Sunday that none of them could recall events O’Reilly has described numerous times, including in his own memoir — such as O’Reilly’s account of a CBS cameraman suffering injuries when he was “run down” and “trampled” by a rioting mob in Buenos Aires.
“Nobody remembers this happening,” said Manny Alvarez, a CBS camera operator during the network’s coverage of the Falklands war. “If somebody got hurt, we all would have known.”
O’Reilly has called the accusations that he lied about or exaggerated the danger he experienced a smear campaign against him by the liberal magazine Mother Jones, where the revelations about O’Reilly’s allegedly tall tales first appeared. He condemned the lead reporter on the story, veteran journalist David Corn, as a “guttersnipe.”
A reporter for CBS, however, said that Buenos Aires — about 1,000 miles from the offshore Falkland Islands where the fighting took place — was not dangerous or violent at all.
“Our knowledge of the war was restricted to what we could glean from comically deceitful daily briefings given by the Argentine military and watching government-controlled television to try to pick up a useful clue from propaganda broadcasts,” wrote CBS correspondent Eric Jon Enberg on his personal Facebook account. “We — meaning the American networks — were all in the same, modern hotel and we never saw any troops, casualties or weapons. It was not a war zone or even close. It was an ‘expense account zone.'”
An NBC News reporter, George Lewis, who also covered the war in Argentina, confirmed Enberg’s description to CNN, calling the bloody Falklands conflict “the cushiest war I ever covered.”
Reporters were forced to cover the war from a luxury hotel in Buenos Aires because the ruling regime in Argentina at the time would not allow journalists near the fighting.
Bill O’Reilly has protested that he never claimed to get near the actual fighting, and that his references to a “war zone” referred to the situation in Buenos Aires following the Argentine surrender, allowing Britain to retake the islands.
However, in numerous available audio clips — several of which may be heard in the above video — Bill O’Reilly appears to create the impression that he had, in his own words, “seen the combat up close and personal,” and was in “a combat situation,” even adding, “you veterans out there listening right now, you know exactly what I’m talking about.”
[Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]