Fox News host Bill O'Reilly lost what little journalistic credibility he still had in 2015 as journalists, colleagues, and media observers dismantled many of the fabrications he told about his journalism career and in his books. Media Matters looks back at O'Reilly's horrible year.
Bill O'Reilly's Credibility Crumbled Even More In 2015
Numerous Journalists Took Apart O'Reilly's Falklands War Tales. O'Reilly has repeatedly attempted to bolster his reporting credentials by claiming over the years that he reported “in the Falklands” during the 1982 Falklands War. A Mother Jones exposé, however, found that O'Reilly fabricated his reporting resume and his former colleagues said he was actually 1,200 miles away in Buenos Aires. O'Reilly also claimed to have reported on a 1982 Buenos Aires protest in which “many were killed,” but numerous journalists who reported from the scene and a historian disputed his story. Furthermore, O'Reilly claimed to have helped an injured CBS photographer during the protest, but his colleagues have no recollection of that incident. [Mother Jones, 2/19/15; Media Matters, 2/24/15]
O'Reilly's Incredible Tale About A Kennedy Assassination Figure Imploded. O'Reilly claimed on Fox News and in his book Killing Kennedy that he was outside the Florida house where Lee Harvey Oswald friend George de Mohrenschildt was staying when he killed himself in 1977. Though O'Reilly claimed to have heard the fatal gunshot, his tale unraveled when numerous pieces of evidence emerged contradicting his claim. The evidence includes an audio tape of O'Reilly saying he's “coming to Florida” after being informed of the suicide; colleagues who contradicted and were unable to corroborate his story; and a police report that makes no mention of O'Reilly and provides details that cast doubt on his tale. [Media Matters, 3/11/15]
O'Reilly Fabrication: He “Saw Nuns Get Shot In The Back Of The Head” In El Salvador. While discussing his time covering the civil war in El Salvador in the early 1980s, O'Reilly claimed he “was in El Salvador and I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head.” In reality, the incident took place months before he arrived in the country. O'Reilly attempted damage control by claiming that when he said he “saw nuns get shot,” he was referring to seeing “horrendous images” of nuns murdered while reporting from El Salvador, not witnessing those murders firsthand. [Media Matters, 2/25/15]
O'Reilly's Northern Ireland Bombing Lie: He's “Seen ... Irish Terrorists Kill And Maim Their Fellow Citizens In Belfast With Bombs.” O'Reilly claimed in his book Keep it Pithy that he's “seen soldiers gun down unarmed civilians in Latin America, Irish terrorists kill and maim their fellow citizens in Belfast with bombs.” A Fox News spokesperson later “said that O'Reilly was not an eyewitness to any bombings or injuries in Northern Ireland. Instead, he was shown photos of bombings by Protestant police officers.” [Media Matters, 3/3/15]
Colleagues Disputed O'Reilly's Tale Of Danger During The Los Angeles Riots. O'Reilly claimed of his reporting for Inside Edition during the Los Angeles riots: “We were attacked, we were attacked by protesters, where bricks were thrown at us.” However, the Guardian reported that six of O'Reilly's colleagues “have disputed his account of surviving a bombardment of bricks and rocks while covering the 1992 riots in Los Angeles.” [The Guardian, 2/26/15; Media Matters, 2/26/15]
Republicans Accused O'Reilly Of Factual Inaccuracies In Killing Reagan Book. Numerous Republicans challenged O'Reilly over factual inaccuracies in his book Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency. The critics included former Reagan aides and Reagan biographers, who called O'Reilly's book “garbage” and “a disservice to history.” One of O'Reilly's biggest critics has been conservative columnist and Fox News contributor George Will, who called O'Reilly “an opportunistic interloper” whose “vast carelessness pollutes history and debases the historian's craft.” [Media Matters, 9/21/15, 10/9/15, 11/6/15, 12/8/15; Washington Post, 11/10/15]
To read more about Bill O'Reilly's many fabrications, read Media Matters' 2015 eBook, Killing Truth.