Three of Bill O'Reilly's past chest-thumping claims of being a reporter who's witnessed specific first hand violence have been been revealed to be paper tigers. His "witness" of certain events includes being shown photos, and being told something happened over the phone. And if that's all it takes, we could all write memoirs on the atrocities that we've witnessed.
First stop on the O'Reilly lie tour: Northern Ireland. In O'Reilly's book, Keep it Pithy, O'Reilly claims that he's "seen soldiers gun down unarmed civilians in Latin America, Irish terrorists kill and maim their fellow citizens in Belfast with bombs.” Fox News admitted to The Washington Post, that O'Reilly was just shown pictures.
Asked about O'Reilly’s statements Friday, a Fox News spokesman that O’Reilly was not an eyewitness to any bombings or injuries in Northern Ireland. Instead, he was shown photos of bombings by Protestant police officers.
The shown-pictures defense for evidence of first hand witness of terrors was also used last week, when O'Reilly was taken to task for his 2012 on-air claim that “I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head.” O'Reilly was reporting on the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting where 20 children and six adults were shot.
“While in El Salvador, reporters were shown horrendous images of violence that were never broadcast, including depictions of nuns who were murdered,” O'Reilly said in the statement.
O’Reilly said he brought up the El Salvador episode on his TV program in 2012 on the day of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in a discussion on evil. “I used the murdered nuns as an example of that evil,” his statement said. “That’s what I am referring to when I say ‘I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head.’ No one could possibly take that segment as reporting on El Salvador.”
But perhaps the most ludicrous stretch of the truth comes from his early Dallas TV-reporting days in the late 1970s.
CNN has acquired phone recordings that prove that O'Reilly's claim of being at the location where a known associate of Lee Harvey Oswald, George de Mohrenschildt, committed suicide is entirely false. The suicide occurred at a house in Florida in 1977, and although O'Reilly has maintained in his 2012 book, Killing Kennedy, that he "heard the shotgun blast that marked the suicide," O'Reilly wasn't even in Florida when Mohrenschildt committed suicide.
The tapes reveal that O'Reilly called Gaeton Fonzi, an investigative reporter who was known for his work on JFK's assassination, and asked if he had heard any personal details about Mohrenschildt's suicide. "I'm coming down there tomorrow," O'Reilly is heard saying to Fonzi. "I'm coming to Florida."
Want to see the evidence of O'Reilly saying he was present in Florida when the shotgun went off? Here's a video of O'Reilly saying that he heard Mohrenschildt "blow his brains out with a shotgun," on The O'Reilly Factor:
Fox News told CNN to talk to the publisher of Killing Kennedy about that one.
Of course, O'Reilly not only has himself to blame for grossly overstating what he's witnessed, but also for attacking Brian Williams. O'Reilly said the difference between he and Williams (who is currently on leave at NBC for lying about coming under fire will reporting in Iraq) is that "what separates me from most of these other bloviators: I bloviate, but I bloviate about stuff I’ve seen. They bloviate about stuff that they haven’t.” But Williams actually did see a helicopter get shot down, even if he wasn't in it. For some of O'Reilly's biggest bloviating points he was only shown photos. By that logic, we've all "seen" the ISIS beheadings first hand.
Unlike Williams' swift showing to the exit off the stage, Fox News is unlikely to reprimand O'Reilly anytime soon. Why? The O'Reilly Factor viewership has gone up 11 percent since reporters have taken up his dare and begun to fact-check all his bloviating.