New videos and audio released in the past day add fuel to allegations Fox News host Bill O’Reilly made up claims about his past reporting.
O’Reilly’s work has been in the spotlight since Feb. 19 when Mother Jones published a story questioning claims he made about his experiences reporting on the Falklands War for CBS in 1982. That article noted O’Reilly has repeatedly claimed he experienced a “war zone” during the conflict. However, O’Reilly was not actually in the Falkland Islands and instead reported on protests that broke out in Buenos Aires, Argentina following the conflict.
The host has defended his comments by claiming the protests were extremely violent and “many were killed.” He wrote a fictionalized account of the demonstration in a 1998 novel that features the authorities firing shots at the protesters and several deaths. In an interview about the allegations, O’Reilly pointed to his novel as his largely factual account of “what happened in Buenos Aires.”
This violent version of the protest has been challenged by several of his former CBS colleagues. It also is not supported by multiple media outlets’ reports from the protest that described no deaths or widespread gunfire. On Monday, Mother Jones published video of O’Reilly’s own report taped from the demonstration. In it, O’Reilly doesn’t refer to any violence apart from police being “pelted with coins” and that “some journalists behind the lines were hurt.” O’Reilly also noted the police fired tear gas onto the crowd.
Along with O’Reilly’s “war zone” claims about the Falklands War, questions have also been raised about his account of a suicide that has been linked to the investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. New evidence about this incident was uncovered on Sunday.
In his 2012 book “Killing Kennedy,” O’Reilly wrote that he was nearby when George de Mohrenschildt killed himself in 1977. De Mohrenschildt was an acquaintance of Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, and he was being questioned in conjunction with investigations into the president’s death. O’Reilly said in the book as well as at least one Fox News appearance that he was outside de Mohrenschildt’s Florida home and was able to hear “the shotgun blast.” At the time, O’Reilly was reporting for a Texas television station, WFAA.
O’Reilly’s claim about being present when de Mohrenschildt died was first called into question in 2013 when it was flagged by Jefferson Morley, who runs a website dedicated to the Kennedy assassination. On Feb. 24, following the allegations surrounding O’Reilly’s Falklands reporting, the liberal watchdog organisation Media Matters published a report that noted several of his former WFAA colleagues said he was not in Florida when de Mohrenschildt died.
On Sunday, CNN revealed audiotapes recorded by an investigator named Gaeton Fonzi in 1977 seem to prove O’Reilly was not in Florida when de Mohrenschildt died. In the tapes, O’Reilly can be heard asking Fonzi to confirm de Mohrenschildt died and saying he will be “coming down” to Florida the following day.
Business Insider reached out to Fox News on Monday to ask about the new audio and video evidence casting doubt on O’Reilly’s claims. A spokeswoman for the network declined to comment on whether they were concerned, but she said the network stands by a previous statement expressing support for O’Reilly.
The Fox News spokeswoman also referred us to Henry Holt and Company, which published “Killing Kennedy,” for questions about O’Reilly’s claims concerning de Mohrenschildt’s death. Patricia Eisemann, a spokeswoman for Holt responded with a statement indicating the publisher will not follow up on questions raised by the new audio.
“We fully stand behind Bill O’Reilly and his bestseller ‘Killing Kennedy’ and we’re very proud to count him as one of our most important authors,” Eisemann said. “This one passage is immaterial to the story being told by this terrific book and we have no plans to look into this matter.”
Last week, Business Insider spoke to Eric Engberg, one of the former CBS reporters who questioned O’Relly’s claims about the Falklands War. O’Reilly has disputed Engberg’s comments about his work.
Engberg, offered his own theory that O’Reilly ended up making false claims about the protest because he conflated his actual experience with his 1998 novel.
“What he has done is he has fastened on to this fictional character that he invented for the book,” said Engberg.
Engberg also described his memory of what happened when O’Reilly arrived at the CBS bureau in Buenos Aires.
“He’s there and kind of walking around, huffing his shoulders,” Engberg said of O’Reilly. “He introduced himself to one of the editors. … O’Reilly went up to him and said, ‘Hi, Bill O’Reilly weekend anchor and superstar reporter.'”
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