We perish because we know not… #TLENews
David Corn, the lead author of a new report that revealed that Bill O’Reilly lied about his Falklands War experience, says the Fox News anchor is “hiding behind name calling and refusing to account for legitimate discrepancies in his statements.”
“To me, the issue here is whether a media figure and journalist like Bill O’Reilly, who claims to be a truth teller, can get away without answering questions about specific statements he’s made, and hide behind name calling,” Corn told the On Media blog on Thursday. “I would encourage anyone else who covers this story to get Bill O’Reilly to answer those quesitons — if not to me, than to anyone else.”
Corn made his remarks immediately after O’Reilly called him “a liar” and a “despicable guttersnipe” during an interview with On Media. O’Reilly said that he “never claimed to have been on the Falkland Islands” and that the report, for Mother Jones, was “a piece of garbage.”
In the report, Corn reveals that O’Reilly repeatedly misled viewers by claiming to have been in a war zone during the conflict between England and Argentina in 1982. O’Reilly has made claims to have been “in an active war zone” in public appearances, on his television program, and in his book. He claimed to have been in the Falklands despite the fact that no American correspondents are believed to have reached the combat zones on the islands.
O’Reilly was however, present at a public protest in Buenos Aires following the Argentine surrender to England against the military junta. Corn called this, in Thursday’s interview, a protest that no reasonable person would classify as a “war zone” experience.
“He said he was in the war zone during the Falkland Island conflicts — the conflict was in the Falkland Islands, it was not in Buenos Aires,” Corn said. “He covered a protest after the war was over in Buenos Aires. I don’t think that’s a reasonable definiton of a combat situation. If you look up ‘combat situation’ in the dictionary, it’s not ‘an ugly protest’.”
Corn gave O’Reilly and Fox News more than nine hours to respond to the issues raised in his report, he told On Media, and that they never responded to him.
“Yesterday I checked in with [Fox News spokesperson] Dana Klinghoffer, and said, ‘if I have questions about a personality is it best to direct them to you?’ She said yes. So this morning at 8:30 I sent them a detailed list of questions — a dozen or more questions — with all the individual quotes and citations that the piece reports. I asked them to explain O’Reilly’s comments and to explain contradictions between what he said and the public record. And, to make things easier for Fox News, I added links wherever possible,” Corn said.
“I presented all these quotes and assertions that he made at 8:30 a.m. Then I started calling at 9 a.m. to make sure my email had been received,” Corn continued. “I called Dana about four times today, left voicemails, and sent her two follow-up emails, asking that she get back to me by 3 p.m. That would give them most of the day to respond, which seemed fair and balanced to me.”
“When I had nothing from Dana, I sent [Fox News Executive Vice President] Bill Shine an email alerting him that I’d sent this email to Dana and even said that if they needed more time, I would try to accomodate them. I never heard back from Bill and I never heard back from Dana — so at about 5:30, I published the piece.”
Corn said that O’Reilly’s refusal to comment ahead of publication demonstrated that he would rather hide behind name calling than address the allegations in his report.
“Rather than calling anyone a liar or a guttersnipe, he had ample opportunity to deal with the facts of this case. He elected not to, and instead engaged in name calling,” Corn said. “He chose not to address the issue, he chose to throw mud. And I would say that his right to impugn others ought to be diminished until he answers the basic questions about his statements.”