O’Reilly mocked on Facebook by former colleague for covering war from ‘expense account zone’
Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who has been taking fire for the past few days over questions of whether he fabricated wartime experiences while covering the Falklands war in 1982, took another shot when a former CBS colleague mocked him on Facebook, saying the bombastic journalist was never in a “combat situation.”
On his Facebook page, retired CBS correspondent, Eric Jo Engberg wrote: “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’.”
Allegations that O’Reilly exaggerated or fabricated his wartime coverage arose after he attacked NBC news anchor Brian Williams who was suspended by his network over multiple instances of falsely recounting events he claimed he took part in.
On Thursday, Mother Jones reported that O’Reilly has repeatedly spoken about living through “combat situations” while covering the brief war between Argentina and the United Kingdom. According to Mother Jones, O’Reilly never actually did any combat reporting, spending his time in hotels in Buenos Aries.
O’Reilly has used his wartime experiences to establish his credibility, saying, “I’ve been there. That’s really what separates me from most of these other bloviators. I bloviate, but I bloviate about stuff I’ve seen. They bloviate about stuff that they haven’t.”
O’Reilly’s credibility took another hit with Enberg’s Facebook post.
“We were in Buenos Aires because that’s the only place the Argentine military junta would let journalists go,” Enberg wrote. “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.”
According to Engberg, the closest O’Reilly got to any conflicts were protests in the streets near Argentina’s Presidential Palace, which Enberg described as “Mostly chanting, fist-shaking and throwing coins at the uniformed soldiers who were assembled outside the palace.”
Engberg took issue with O’Reilly’s boastful claim about covering the protests, “I was out there pretty much by myself because the other CBS News correspondents were hiding in the hotel.”
“If he said such thing it is an absolute lie,” Engberg wrote. “Everyone was working in the street that night, the crews exhibiting their usual courage. O’Reilly was the one person who behaved unprofessionally and without regard for the safety of the camera crew he was leading.”
Engberg concluded, “I don’t think it’s as big a lie as Brian Williams told because O’Reilly hasn’t falsely claimed to be the target of an enemy attack, but he has displayed a willingness to twist the truth in a way that seeks to invent a battlefield that did not exist. And he ought to be subject to the same scrutiny Williams faced. He also ought to be ashamed of himself.”
A Fox spokesperson sent out an email Saturday stating that O’Reilly will address Engberg’s comments when he appears on Fox’s own Media Buzz show, Sunday morning with host Howard Kurtz.