CBS News releases video referenced in O’Reilly dispute
New York — CBS News on Monday released video from four stories it aired about the Falklands War in 1982, all part of a dispute involving Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly and his subsequent statements about covering the war.
None of the stories mentions O’Reilly, then a young CBS reporter, or makes any specific reference to a CBS crew member being hurt.
The television time travel was prompted by a Mother Jones article last week calling into question O’Reilly’s claims he reported in a “war zone” or “combat zone” during the brief conflict between Britain and Argentina. Few reporters made it to the front of the war, some 1,000 miles from the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires.
O’Reilly has said that he covered an anti-government demonstration in Buenos Aires that turned violent and that a photographer he was working with was knocked to the ground and was bleeding. Describing the events two years ago, O’Reilly said he “dragged off” the photographer from danger.
Former CBS News correspondent Eric Engberg, who also was covering the event, characterized O’Reilly’s account as “dishonest” and “completely nutty” during a Huffington Post interview on Monday. Engberg said none of the camera operators working the night in question remembers any colleague being injured. The camera person who was said to be hurt has not spoken publicly about the matter.
During one of the CBS reports, then-anchor Dan Rather said that several television crew members were knocked to the ground and that North American television crews were “jostled.”
An Engberg report, also released by CBS on Monday, said police fired guns with tear gas and plastic bullets. He said in the report it was unknown how many people were hurt but at least some were seriously injured.
An Associated Press account of the demonstration said that police officers charged a group of about 50 journalists, beating some and trampling others.
“Two news photographers were reported injured by rubber bullets fired by police,” said the June 16, 1982, account by AP writer Douglas Grant Mine.
The release of the videos, while providing more detail about the situation O’Reilly faced 33 years ago, did not resolve the issue of whether his retellings of the experience have been completely factual.
In addition to his work at Fox, o’Reilly has become a force in the publishing industry with a series of books on the deaths of historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ.
O’Reilly, on his program Monday night, showed portions of the CBS video and said it proved the event was no “walk in the park.” He interviewed Don Browne, a former NBC News Miami bureau chief who supervised the network’s Falklands coverage, who also described the situation. No mention was made in O’Reilly’s report Monday about any CBS News personnel being hurt.
The Mother Jones piece was printed shortly after NBC News anchor Brian Williams was suspended for misrepresenting his experiences in the Iraq War. O’Reilly, long the most popular prime-time figure in cable news, has called the piece a political hit job.
“I want to stop this now,” O’Reilly said. “I hope we can stop it, I really do.”
Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has said he fully supports O’Reilly.