NEW YORK, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- As Brian Williams sits out his six-month suspension from NBC News' nightly desk for misrepresenting an anecdote about his time embedded in Iraq, attention is turning to Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly and claims he made about covering various wars.
Mother Jones reports that "In his 2001 book, The No Spin Zone: Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America, O'Reilly stated, 'You know that I am not easily shocked. I've reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands.'"
The progressive publication goes on to break down O'Reilly's other documented assertions of his 1982 time in the Falklands while working as a correspondent for CBS News.
"Conservative journalist Tucker Carlson, in a 2003 book, described how O'Reilly answered a question during a Washington panel discussion about media coverage of the Afghanistan war: [...] 'I've covered wars, okay? I've been there. The Falklands, Northern Ireland, the Middle East. I've almost been killed three times, okay.' In a 2004 column about US soldiers fighting in Iraq, O'Reilly noted, 'Having survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands war, I know that life-and-death decisions are made in a flash.' In 2008, he took a shot at journalist Bill Moyers, saying, 'I missed Moyers in the war zones of [the] Falkland conflict in Argentina, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland. I looked for Bill, but I didn't see him.'"
Despite O'Reilly's stories, Bob Schieffer, CBS News' lead correspondent, told Mother Jones, "Nobody from CBS got to the Falklands."
"I came close. We'd been trying to get somebody down there. It was impossible. I remember because I got my butt scooped on that [by Robin Lloyd of NBC News]. He got out there and we were all trying to get there. For us, you were a thousand miles from where the fighting was."
Additionally, Mother Jones says O'Reilly's conversational claims and filed reports of witnessing death while covering riots in Argentina in 1982 are erronious. Citing UPI, The New York Times and The Miami Herald, Mother Jones writes, "Thousands did take to the street, setting fires, breaking store windows, and that riot police did battle with protesters who threw rocks and sticks ... But these media accounts did not report, as O'Reilly claims, that there were fatalities."
"All you have to do is Google [report co-author] 'David Corn and Fox News, Bill O'Reilly' and you'll see this guy has made a history of it. This isn't the first time this guy has done it. This guy is far-left assassin. That's what he does. Everybody knows that .. When [the media] verifies what I'm saying, because it's easily verifiable, then I expect David Corn to be in the kill zone."
In an email published by AdWeek, Mother Jones responded to O'Rielly's comments, saying the tone of his rhetoric "crosses a line" in light of recent violence against journalists.
"We are writing with alarm about Bill O'Reilly's response to our report investigating his characterizations of his reporting in 'war zones.' We welcome criticism, but calling for our reporter "to be in the kill zone" crosses a line. Like everyone in media today, we are concerned about the safety of our staff. We'd have hoped that statements with this kind of violent tone would not come from a fellow media professional.
For a full day before publishing the story, starting at 8:30 a.m., Mother Jones sought comment or clarification from Fox News. This included sending emails with a detailed list of questions. After multiple calls and emails to you both went unanswered, we published the story at 5:26 p.m.
After the article was posted, Mr. O'Reilly spoke to multiple reporters for other outlets. He did not address the substance of the article. Instead, he called David Corn 'a liar,' 'a guttersnipe,' 'a disgusting piece of garbage,' and 'a left-wing assassin.' He suggested that Corn deserved to be 'in the kill zone.'
Mr. O'Reilly has indicated that he plans to address the Mother Jones story on his show tonight. He should use that occasion to renounce his 'kill zone; remark and apologize. If he does not, he should issue a separate statement renouncing the remark and apologizing.
We would appreciate a response. And of course, we remain very interested in any comments responding to the article itself."