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Mother Jones questions Bill O'Reilly combat claims; O'Reilly fires back

(UPDATES WITH RESPONSE FROM MOTHER JONES TO O'REILLY COMMENTS.)

Comparing Bill O'Reilly to NBC anchor Brian Williams, who was suspended for lying about his combat coverage, "Mother Jones" today alleged that the popular Fox News host has his own credibility problems when it comes to accounts he has given of his work as a war correspondent.

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Among the charges leveled in the piece by David Corn and Daniel Schulman is that O'Reilly said he covered a war in the Falklands where others say no U.S. reporter was allowed to go.

The core allegation in the "Mother Jones" piece is that O'Reilly in his books and elsewhere claimed to have covered warfare in the Falkland Islands in 1982 between Britain and Argentina, when what he actually covered was a protest in Argentina against the military junta there. That protest occurred after the battle on the islands.

In making their case, Corn and Sculman wrote: "In his 2001 book, 'The No Spin Zone: Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America,' O'Reilly stated, 'You know that I am not easily shocked. I've reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands.'"

The Falklands are 300 miles offshore from Argentina.

Given that history, the "Mother Jones" piece further characterized O'Reilly as a hypocrite for his criticism of Williams during a show last week.

O'Reilly fired back in a telephone interview with The Sun saying that everything he claimed in his books and speaking engagements about his work as a war correspondent is "true" and "verifiable" and can be backed up by videotape.

Of the charge made by "Mother Jones" that he said he was in a war zone in the Falklands where no U.S. reporter was allegedly allowed to go, O'Reilly said he never made such a claim.

"I never said that. Where did I say that?" he said.

"This is a hit piece by a despicable jerk who has been trying to get Fox News and me for years," O'Reilly said, referring to Corn.

"There is videotape to back up every single thing I've said," he continued. "My reports appeared on the air. In the Falklands confrontation that took place in Buenos Aires, I received an internal CBS memo saying it was great."

O'Reilly said the larger story here is how reputations can be ruined on the Internet and social media without facts being chacked.

"But this is what it's come to in this country, because they know they write this crap and it will go out on social media, it will go out on the Internet with no editing, with nobody ever saying, 'Wait a minute. He never said he was in the Falkland Islands.'"

O'Reilly vowed that he is not going to let this become another "he-said, she-said" media situation.

"I'm glad this happened, because I want to expose this kind of stuff -- that you can slime and smear anybody you want on the Internet because there's nobody in charge," he added.

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"I don't want to elevate this pig, Corn. But I'll be damned if I'm going to let this guy run down my career. This is verifiable stuff. My pieces ran. You can see me in Argentina. You can see me in El Salvador. I'm there. This is defamatory."

Schulman said in a Sun interview that he and Corn gave O'Reilly and Fox nine hours to respond to the charges in its story and offered an extension if more time if needed, but that O'Reilly chose not to talk to them.

"He hasn't refuted anything  in our piece; instead he's resorted to ad hominen attacks on David." Schulman said Thursday after reading O'Reilly's comments here and elsewhere.

"He's now saying, 'Of course, I wasn't in the Falklands.' But that just doesn't match up with what he said in the past," added Schulman, a senior editor in the magazine's Washington bureau.

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