“The Mother Jones piece, ultimately if you boil it down, comes down to this semantic question. You said you covered a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands War….Looking back, do you wish you had worded it differently?”
Howard Kurtz posed this question to Bill O’Reilly on Sunday morning, in an attempt to distill three days of media chatter over alleged embellishments in O’Reilly’s reporting. The accusation: Mother Jones claims that there are contradictions in O’Reilly’s descriptions of his 1982 reporting in Argentina for CBS. The follow up: In a 1700-word Facebook post, Eric Engberg, a former CBS News correspondent who was also in Argentina, said O’Reilly’s tale is suspicious. The wording in question: O’Reilly has said, “I was in a situation one time, in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands…” even though he never made it to the Falkland Islands and instead reported from Buenos Aires.
So does the Fox News star wish he had worded it differently?
“No,” O’Reilly answered Kurtz. “When you have soldiers and military police firing into the crowd, as the New York Times reports, and you have people injured and hurt and you’re in the middle of that, that’s the definition. This is splitting hairs trying anything they can to bring down me because of the Brian Williams situation.”
The New York Times reporting that O’Reilly referred to is a story about protests that occurred in Buenos Aires after the Argentine government surrendered the Falkland Islands to Britain. These protests are the “war zone” that O’Reilly says he was in.
Along with defending his definition of war zone during his appearance on Kurtz’s show “MediaBuzz,” O’Reilly remained firm on a story about injuries to his cameraman during the protests. He has previously said his photographer was “run down and then hit his head and was bleeding from the ear on the concrete.” O’Reilly said he had to drag this photographer out of harm’s way. Engberg questioned this story in his Facebook post, saying no one working with him that night remembers an injured cameraman.
O’Reilly said that’s because Engberg was not around to see what happened.
“I don’t think he was there,” O’Reilly said. “I left the hotel. Engberg was still in the hotel, the Sheraton.”
“His reputation,” O’Reilly continued, “his nickname was Room Service Eric. He never left the hotel.”
CNN reported Sunday that it has contacted seven CBS journalists who were in Buenos Aires during the protests but that none remembered an injured photographer. Fox News told The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple that the name of the photographer in question is Roberto Moreno. Moreno has not been reached.
O’Reilly said the dispute will be settled Monday on his show “The O’Reilly Factor,” when he shows footage of his time in Buenos Aires that he is planning to attain from CBS.
“These guys wanna come after me? I’m here,” he told Kurtz. “Anybody who says my reporting in Argentina was erroneous, they can come on tomorrow night.”
This invitation was extended to Engberg, but Fox News said in a statement that he has declined to appear.