The Falklands War may not be the only "combat situation" that Bill O'Reilly falsely claims to have experienced firsthand.
O'Reilly has long spoken of his time covering the civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s. On more than one occasion, he claimed to have been present for the murder of four nuns. But that experience, along with several others, is now being challenged as a fabrication by the Fox News host. Most glaringly, O'Reilly described seeing "nuns get shot in the back of the head," an event that occurred in 1980; O'Reilly did not arrive in El Salvador as a correspondent until 1981.
O'Reilly also claimed to have been present in a "combat situation" in Argentina during the 1982 Falklands War, when actually, records revealed that he was more than 1,200 miles away in Buenos Aires at the time.
Now, the liberal media watchdog Media Matters is questioning yet another one of his reporting experiences. O'Reilly has said on his radio show that he witnessed "firefight" in El Salvador during the war, adding that he saw "guerrillas all over the place" and "people just shooting everywhere." However, two of O'Reilly's autobiographies, in which he also recounts the experience, made no mention of such aggressive combat. Nor does the CBS segment based on this reporting.
Media Matters notes a time on his radio show in 2006, when O'Reilly told a caller: "First time I saw combat, all right, was in El Salvador."
The Fox News host proceeded to tell the caller about the "firefight" he saw in a town known as San Francisco Gotera.
"When you see what happens when people start to shoot at each other, it is nothing like the movies," he said. "It's nothing like -- it's just sheer panic. All right? People just shooting everywhere, running everywhere. Screaming, noise, chaos."
But Media Matters pointed out that O'Reilly's reporting of that very same trip in his 2001 book, The No Spin Zone, makes no mention of an extreme firefight.
In The No Spin Zone, O'Reilly retold the story of his trip to El Salvador, stating that he was in fact in San Francisco Gotera. He wrote about one instance where he saw an officer whipping soldiers who had fallen asleep and another instance where he was stopped by armed government soldiers. O'Reilly did not, however, describe the "screaming," "chaos," and "shooting everywhere" that he did on his radio show.
His CBS coverage of the trip, released by The Nation last month, also makes no mention of such a combat situation. In fact, he opened his report at the time by saying, "these days, Salvadoran soldiers appear to be doing more singing than fighting, even here in the northeast, the heart of rebel country."
O'Reilly also described a helicopter trip he took where he saw "signs of war," but "no signs of insurgent forces." Similarly, in his 2008 book, A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity, while he does say it was the "first time I entered a war zone," he does not say anything involving the firefight in San Francisco Gotera.
And yet, once on Hugh Hewitt's radio show in 2015 and once on his Fox News program in 2012, O'Reilly claimed that he had been "shot at" while in El Salvador in 1982.
When Hewitt asked him whether he had "been in combat," O'Reilly responded unclearly, but did mention fire.
"You have to define what the situation is," he said. "I've been shot at a couple of times, once in Argentina. We were in a fort in San Francisco Gotera that took fire in El Salvador."
The Huffington Post has reached out to Fox News for comment on the new allegation and will update the post if and when it responds.
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