UPDATE: Bill O’Reilly says that when he said, “I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head” he was referring to having seen photographs of the nuns who were executed in El Salvador in 1980, and not claiming he actually saw the murdered nuns:
“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 this afternoon after a report came out questioning his account of his reporting in El Salvador. “The mention of the nuns on my program came the day of the Newtown massacre (December 14, 2012). The segment was about evil and how hard it is for folks to comprehend it. I used the murdered nuns as an example of that evil. 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.”
Previous: Fox News Channel has responded to a new round of questions about primetime star Bill O’Reilly’s reporting during his time as a broadcast TV journalist — this time questioning his account of his experience in El Salvador and in Dallas.
“Bill O’Reilly has already addressed several claims leveled against him, the network said in a statement. “This is nothing more than an orchestrated campaign by far left advocates Mother Jones and Media Matters. Responding to the unproven accusation du jour has become an exercise in futility. Fox News maintains its staunch support of O’Reilly, who is no stranger to calculated onslaughts.”
Liberal watchdog group Media Matters had pointed out O’Reilly stated on more than one occasion he witnessed the execution of four nuns during El Salvador’s civil war in 1980, while other times said he arrived after the executions. In its report, Media Matters included documentation of O’Reilly saying he’d seen “guys gun down nuns in El Salvador” and “was in El Salvador and I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head” while a CBS correspondent there. But in his book The No Spin Zone, O’Reilly referenced covering the civil war in El Salvador a “few weeks” after he began as a CBS News correspondent in 1981; the well-documented execution of the nuns occurred in December of 1980. Media Matters also says it has a recording of a 2009 interview on WVVH-TV in which he said he arrived in El Salvador “right after” the murders.
The liberal watchdog group also notes that in his 2012 book Killing Kennedy, O’Reilly describes being about to knock on the door of the house where he believed Lee Harvey Oswald pal George de Mohrenschildt to be, in Palm Beach, FL – just as Russian-born de Mohrenschildt, who’d been contacted by congressional investigators, took his own life. But various other accounts put O’Reilly in Dallas at the time, Media Matters maintains.
“This one passage is immaterial to the story being told by this terrific book and we have no plans to look into this matter,” the books’ publisher, Henry Holt and Company, told Deadline.
“We fully stand behind Bill O’Reilly and his bestseller Killing Kennedy and we’re very proud to count him as one of our most important authors,” the publishing house also said in a statement.
It’s unclear if Fox News was including Jon Stewart in that “orchestrated far left campaign” remark. Last night, O’Reilly got one of those “with friends like these…” shows of support from Stewart, who O’Reilly has called a friend, and vice versa.
“I don’t know if you watch his program – misrepresenting ‘The Zone’ he is in is kind of his hook,” Stewart told viewers on The Daily Show. “No one’s watching him for the actual truth.”
Mother Jones and other media outlets, Stewart observed, are “putting in a tremendous amount of work to say the emperor has no clothes, when the emperor has spent like the last 20 years going, ‘Look at my dick – I’m naked!’ ” O’Reilly also poked fun at Mother Jones for being an old-school print outlet taking on a cable TV star, which was somewhat surprising, given the degree to which Stewart has championed print journalists over the years.
O’Reilly’s been under attack since last week, when Mother Jones published an article, “Bill O’Reilly Has His Own Brian Williams Problem,” that drew comparisons between O’Reilly’s description of his work covering wars for CBS News and Williams. Williams, of course, was suspended by NBC News for six months as that division continues to investigate the degree to which Williams misrepresented his experiences covering various breaking news stories for that network, including the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina and other situations, as well as gifts he said, in talk show appearances, he received from members of the military.
In the article, Mother Jones questioned O’Reilly’s descriptions of some of his experiences as a CBS News correspondent covering the 1982 Falklands War between Great Britain and Argentina.