(WTNH) Bill O’Reilly isn’t finding a lot of confirmation of his version of events when he reported for CBS on the Falklands War of 1982. His colleagues at the time, including former CBS correspondent Eric Engberg, have emerged to contradict O’Reilly’s telling of his experiences in the conflict between Britain and Argentina, especially regarding the level of danger covering a riot in Buenos Aires after Argentina surrendered. It was bullets and bodies in Bill’s version, a “tame” and carnage-free event to most others now coming forward.
But things had pretty much died down over the weekend. It WAS 33 years ago, and O’Reilly IS quite an opinionated fellow in his role fronting the most-watched show on cable news. Not really comparable to the Brian Williams mess. Williams confessed to inflating his Iraq War experience, but in his role as purveyor of “objective” news, became a liability to NBC. He was suspended for six months, with his future at the network cloudy even after that. So O’Reilly/Williams looked to many like apples/oranges.
At least until it flared up again in the last 48-hours. More people are coming forward not only to refute O’Reilly’s version of events in Argentina, but to criticize his overall work attitude they say earned him an early departure from the hallowed halls of CBS News. He’s also being called out for claiming, on air and in print, that he was present in the 1970’s for the suicide of a man who figured in a Congressional investigation of the JFK assassination. The suicide was in Florida. Co-workers of O’Reilly at the time say he was in Dallas.
O’Reilly is also helping keep the heat on himself, with a defense that can best be described as vigorous. Or over-the-top. He called a reporter who wrote the original article about the Argentina clash a “guttersnipe,” among other less flattering things. Tuesday, he warned off New York Times reporters looking into the matter by saying, “I am coming after you with everything I have. You can take it as a threat.” .
But over-the-top is how Bill rolls (full disclosure: O’Reilly has been friends with my wife since they both worked at the “Inside Edition” offices in the 1990’s, and he was an extremely generous donor to our son’s autism school and other autism-related causes). While NBC is watching its news ratings for any sign of slippage since the Williams scandal, “The O’Reilly Factor” is seeing its biggest ratings of the year this week! He also has the full support of Fox brass, along with his loyal viewers.
Needless to say, O’Reilly is neither copping to, nor apologizing for, anything. If you expect that to change, the best advice is to not hold your breath.