Fox News host Bill O’Reilly confronted Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump during an interview that aired Thursday evening.
O’Reilly directly told the billionaire businessman that he was “wrong” when he said that on September 11, 2001, he saw television footage of “thousands and thousands” of Muslims celebrating in New Jersey as the World Trade Center buildings fell.
“No videotape of thousands of people celebrating. It doesn’t exist. And we really looked everywhere. I mean, it’s just not there,” O’Reilly said.
Trump’s claim that he saw “thousands and thousands” of people celebrating the 14-year-old terror attack has been heavily disputed by media fact-checkers. Trump first made the claim during a November campaign rally while arguing that the US government should surveil certain mosques.
Trump has furiously pushed back against the fact-checkers, seizing on evidence of much smaller celebrations — including a report about eight people being investigated — as proof that he was absolutely correct.
“You were wrong by saying ‘thousands,’ but [celebrations] did happen. What say you?” O’Reilly asked Trump.
“I don’t know that I’m wrong, Bill,” Trump said, holding up an article from the conservative Breitbart News that declared him “100% vindicated” on the claim.
O’Reilly, who has lectured Trump in past interviews, proceeded to chide the businessman for speaking off-the-cuff at campaign rallies.
“Where you get into trouble — with all due respect, of course — is where you give a speech and you say things like, ‘I saw thousands.’ And there weren’t thousands,” O’Reilly said.
The two then talked over one another, each declaring the other wrong.
“You don’t know that there weren’t, Bill,” Trump shot back.
“I was here. I was reporting. And believe me, if there were thousands, it would have been reported,” O’Reilly said.
“This article says that they were ‘swarming.’ Bill, this article says they were swarming all over the place. So I don’t know what that means, but it means a lot of people,” Trump interjected.
“There were some people, not thousands,” O’Reilly said.
“You don’t know that, Bill. Bill, you don’t know that. Bill, you don’t know that,” Trump repeated in response.
The Fox host shifted the discussion back to Trump’s improvised stump speeches.
“Sometimes when you’re up there, you get overly excited and you’re speaking extemporaneously,” O’Reilly said. “And then you say things — as anybody would, because the crowd cheering and everything is going wild — that you don’t know to be true but you believe to be true.”
He added: “As a man who wants the most powerful position in the world, you’ve got to kind of be careful in those speeches.”
Watch the full interview below:
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