Bill O’Reilly has said he saw nuns getting executed while reporting on a civil war in El Salvador in 1981. Now he says he meant he saw it on video after the fact.
From Media Matters:
O’Reilly has spoken on several occasions about his time covering the Salvadoran civil war as a CBS correspondent in 1981, suggesting at least twice that he witnessed the murder of the churchwomen. On the September 27, 2005, edition of his talk-radio program The Radio Factor, O’Reilly said, “I’ve seen guys gun down nuns in El Salvador.” And on the December 14, 2012, edition of his Fox News show, O’Reilly spoke of telling his mother that “I was in El Salvador and I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head.”
But the incident occurred on December 2, 1980, before O’Reilly arrived in El Salvador, according to his own account. More from Media Matters:
However, O’Reilly could not possibly have witnessed the murder of the churchwomen if his own timeline is to be believed. The former CBS correspondent only arrived in El Salvador in 1981, as he mentioned on the February 22, 2002, edition of The O’Reilly Factor, saying (according to Nexis transcript), “Before I went to El Salvador in 1981, I talked with some experienced Latin American experts, people who had seen the brutal wars down there for themselves. I had never been in a war zone before, so I wanted some prep.”
In 2009, O’Reilly said in an interview that he had arrived in El Salvador “right after” the nuns were killed.
O’REILLY: Now, a Jesuit priest told me that in El Salvador. It was interesting, I was talking to the guy because these nuns had been slaughtered in El Salvador, and I was down there right after that—they shot like a dozen, killed a dozen nuns.
In the same interview, by the way, O’Reilly talked about covering the protest in Buenos Aires:
“Here in the United States we would use tear gas and rubber bullets. They were doing real bullets. They were just gunning these people down, shooting them down in the street.”
But the video O’Reilly aired on his own show this week to prove his Buenos Aires claims showed no real bullets, no people being gunned down in the streets.
In a statement to Mediaite, Bill O’Reilly claims he meant that he saw the nuns executed on video, not that he saw them executed in real time.
“While in El Salvador, reporters were shown horrendous images of violence that were never broadcast, including depictions of nuns who were murdered. 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.”
But O’Reilly certainly implied he saw it happen. Watch the videos below and decide for yourself.
By the way, Mediaite reports that Fox News has also responded – predictably by going on the attack:
Bill O’Reilly has already addressed several claims leveled against him. 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.”
(I also remember a PBS series hosted by Steve Allen called “Meeting of Minds.” The concept here was that Allen would hold a panel discussion of various historical figures—like a panel of Emily Dickinson, Attila the Hun, Charles Darwin and Galileo. Completely scripted but done in a way so that everything seemed spontaneous just like a real panel show.)
In other words, just another Thursday.
I’ve sent a question to Muto to see if my perception of O’Reilly’s thinking here feels correct to him.
And of course, Fox News did go ahead and mount another attack after these articles went up, but it was clearly less enthusiastic about it. The funniest part of their thinking was to say that this was some kind of “orchestrated campaign”. I suggested on one site that the simpler explanation is more plausible – that Corn’s article prompted more people to come out of the woodwork with their own stories about O’Reilly’s inventions.
BOR is nothing if not transparent. From the end of the Salon article:
“The O’Reilly Factor” did, however, include two segments last night that seemed suspiciously apropos.
If this seems like a transparent response to his detractors, O’Reilly goes on to insist that it’s the wellbeing of Hillary Clinton that he’s concerned for. (Uh huh.) “So here’s the truth,” he says in summation. “The truth really doesn’t matter anymore, does it?”
Well does it, Bill?"
The reality is that O’Reilly’s reputation is taking another large beating from this. He won’t see any consequences in the short term, but his long term legacy gets yet another set of demerits. Which is clearly why he and Fox News are so angry about this.
Bill O’Reilly claims he meant that he saw the nuns executed on video, not that he saw them executed in real time.
Then why didn’t you say that you saw a VIDEO which showed guys gunning down nuns in El Salvador, BOR? Why didn’t you say that, while you were in El Salvador, you saw a VIDEO in which nuns were shot in the back of the head? It’s one word but a very important word. Geez.