Buenos Aires was neither a “war zone” nor a “combat situation” after Argentina surrendered to Britain in the Falklands War, says one of Bill O’Reilly’s former colleagues at CBS who was with him in the capital at the time.
“It was an ‘expense account zone,’” writes Eric Jon Engberg, a retired CBS correspondent, in a Facebook post. “We -- meaning the American networks -- were all in the same, modern hotel and we never saw any troops, casualties or weapons.”
On Thursday, Mother Jones accused the Fox News host of lying about having "reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands" and "survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands War.”
Since then, O’Reilly has been on a tear against the “left-wing media,” calling the report “garbage” and Mother Jones editor David Corn, who broke the story along with reporter Daniel Schulman, a “despicable guttersnipe.”
O’Reilly says he never claimed to be in the Falklands, but that the riots he witnessed in Buenos Aires -- 1,200 miles from the islands -- constituted “combat.”
"Would you consider a riot a general combat definition?” conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked O’Reilly on his show yesterday.
“Yeah, when it’s in a war setting, of course,” O'Reilly responded.
Reports from Buenos Aires after the Falklands War show rioters breaking windows and throwing stones and sticks. Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and clubs. But there were no reported fatalities.
“The riot around the presidential palace was actually short-lived,” Engberg writes. “It consisted mostly of chanting, fist-shaking and throwing coins at the uniformed soldiers who were assembled outside the palace. I did not see any police attacks against demonstrators.”
In addition, Engberg calls into question O’Reilly’s claim that he "was out there pretty much by myself because the other CBS News correspondents were hiding in the hotel."
“If he said such a thing it is an absolute lie,” Engberg writes. “Everyone was working in the street that night, the crews exhibiting their usual courage. O'Reilly was the one person who behaved unprofessionally and without regard for the safety of the camera crew he was leading.”
Engberg said O’Reilly ignored orders from CBS Bureau Chief Larry Doyle to keep camera lights off in order to avoid attracting attention and being injured: "According to Doyle, O'Reilly returned to the hotel in a rage over the fact that his cameraman wouldn't turn on the lights to photograph angry crowds. Doyle defended the cameraman and chewed out O'Reilly for violating his instructions on lights."
Corn said the revelation from the CBS veteran raises further questions about O'Reilly's integrity.
“This account from a veteran CBS News correspondent and a former colleague of O’Reilly -- who witnessed O'Reilly's short stint in Buenos Aires at the end of the Falklands War -- is additional confirmation of what we reported and raises additional questions for O’Reilly,” Corn told The Huffington Post. “Will he responsibly respond to all the questions or will he continue to rely upon invective and bombast?”
UPDATE (8:42 p.m): A Fox spokesperson responded to the allegations via email:
The O'Reilly Factor invited Eric Engberg to appear on the program this Monday and he refused. The Factor has also contacted CBS News and asked them to release the footage in question.
O'Reilly plans to address Engberg's claims on the Howard Kurtz show tomorrow at 11 a.m EST.