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Argentine historian disputes Bill O’Reilly’s claim of protest fatalities

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly needs to find some bodies.

In a swirling dispute over his characterization of reporting on the aftermath of the Falkland Islands War in 1982, O’Reilly stands accused of embellishing his courage in covering the protests that followed Argentina’s surrender to the British following the hostilities. In his book “No Spin Zone,” O’Reilly said of the mid-June 1982 conflagration, “many were killed.” In a story last Thursday on O’Reilly’s apparent exaggerations, Mother Jones reported that contemporary reports on the protests omitted any mention of fatalities. (Disclosure: The wife of the Erik Wemple Blog works for Mother Jones.)

In the several days since that story landed, numerous reporters who were on the ground for the protests have claimed they know of no one killed in the turmoil, which was whipped up by the military’s failure to capture the Falklands — known to the Argentines as “Las Malvinas” — and its poor management of the economy. Seeking to explain the discrepancy, O’Reilly yesterday told the Erik Wemple Blog through a spokeswoman, “Fatalities were reported locally, the military government refused to provide any information on injuries, arrests etc. I saw folks hit the ground and stay there but no one could get info from the [Leopoldo] Galtieri crew.”

As the Erik Wemple Blog pokes around in the archives of Argentine newspapers, we reached out to a historian for perspective. Federico G. Lorenz, an author who has written extensively on the Falklands/Malvinas war, tells the Erik Wemple Blog via correo electrónico:

As far as I know, there were no people killed at the protests after the news of the Argentine surrendering arrived to [Buenos Aires]. There were incidents at May Square…and people slightly injured due to gasses and anti riot munition, but not dead people. Press from June 15, 1982, reports about 5 buses burnt “many detainees and injured people”. One of the photographs shows precisely a wounded lying surrounded by people.

Along with his analysis, Lorenz passed along a link to this YouTube video, a 50-second clip (at top of this post) of the activity from that day. It depicts the chaos of a protest turned violent.

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