A former CBS correspondent went on CNN over the weekend and said Fox News host Bill O’Reilly exaggerated his stories of war reporting.
Eric Engberg joined other CBS staffers from the time O’Reilly was in Argentina covering the Falklands War in saying that the riots journalists covered in Argentina weren’t as dangerous as O’Reilly made them seem.
O’Reilly’s wrote in his book that “many were killed” in a 1982 riot in Argentina, but other reporters who were there say no civilians were killed.
“I think that what he’s doing is he’s trying to build it up into a more frightening and deadly situation than it was,” Engberg told CNN’s Brian Stelter. “There were no people killed. He said that he saw troops fire into the crowd. I never saw that, and I don’t know anybody who did. And I was there on the scene.”
He continued: “I saw more violence in [Vietnam] anti-war demonstrations in DC than I saw in Argentina that night. It was over quickly, it was over within two hours. … It was really a fairly minor incident.”
These accusations are similar to the one facing NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who has admitted to inadvertently embellishing stories he told about his Iraq war coverage.
O’Reilly spoke out about the Williams scandal, criticising the anchor for exaggerating and noting that “reporting the news comes with a big responsibility.”
Allegations that O’Reilly has also exaggerated his conflict tales surfaced last week after Mother Jones published a report highlighting discrepancies between O’Reilly’s retellings of his time in Argentina.
O’Reilly was reportedly stationed in Buenos Aires during that time, which was more than 1,000 miles from the actual conflict zone, according to CNN. On Facebook, Engberg called Buenos Aires an “expense account zone” more than a war zone.
O’Reilly has denied that he embellished anything and called the Mother Jones report “irresponsible.” He accused the magazine of trying to “smear” him and called it “the bottom rung of journalism in America.”
Williams apologised for exaggerating the truth and was dealt a six-month suspension from NBC. After a veteran pointed out false information in Williams’ Iraq story, Williams admitted that he wasn’t actually in a helicopter that was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, as he had asserted publicly on multiple occasions.
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