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It’s hard to support Bill O’ Reilly in his fight against Mother Jones, not because he isn’t telling the truth (it seems as if he is)  but because O’Reilly practices something he accused colleague Eric Engberg of doing, “big footing.” Big footing occurs when a more famous reporter stealing reports from his less famous colleagues and taking the credit.  Although in O’ Reilly’s case, he isn’t stealing the story from his colleagues, he takes them from bloggers and at the same time, he trashes the efforts of on-line journalists.

On Friday Eric Engberg, a CBS correspondent who was also in Buenos Aires during the Falklands war, defended Mother Jones David Corn in a Facebook post, He said that the riots that O’Reilly called a was zone, “was not a war zone or even close. It was an ‘expense account zone.'”

Based on the accounts at the time it did not seem like an “expense account zone.” To be honest it really depends what you call a war zone, O’Reilly covered an anti-Government riot in the Argentine capitol which when it was covered by the NY Times at the time seemed like a situation as violent as the Ferguson riots which many of those in the mainstream media called being similar to a “war zone.”

Policemen firing tear gas tonight dispersed thousands of angry Argentines who had massed in front of the presidential palace to condemn the Government for surrendering to the British on the Falkland Islands….As the crowd chanted increasingly bitter invective at the Government before the speech – reflecting the sorrow, anger and disbelief of the public here over the loss – the police in riot gear moved in, firing tear-gas canisters and roaring through the Plaza de Mayo on motorcycles. Hundreds fled to the side streets, shouting obscenities at the police as acrid gas filled the air. Others ripped down wooden street signs and set them afire in the plaza. Fires appeared in several nearby intersections as demonstrators threw wastebaskets into them and then set them ablaze to slow the police… Officials gave no arrest figures, but they appeared to number in the dozens. Several demonstrators were reported to have been injured, along with at least two reporters. Local news agencies said three buses had been set ablaze by demonstrators and another one fired upon.

CNN listed seven statements about his time in Argentina made by O’Reilly over the years most of them back up is claim that he never said he was on the Falkland Islands, just that he said he was in a War Zone, and based on the NY Times Account above he was justified in calling it that.

2001: O’Reilly wrote in his book, “The No Spin Zone: Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America,” that his time covering war made him ready for anything. “You know that I am not easily shocked,” he wrote. “I’ve reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falkland Islands, and in chaotic situations like the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.”

2004: In his syndicated column, O’Reilly recalled how he had “survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands War.” He was presumably referring to a protest he covered in Buenos Aires, but his reference to a “combat situation” could reasonably be interpreted as a “war zone.”

2008: Seven years ago on the “O’Reilly Factor,” the host invoked his experience “in the war zones” to taunt Bill Moyers, the veteran journalist with whom he’s feuded for years. “By the way, I missed Moyers in the war zones of the Falkland conflict in Argentina, the Middle East and Northern Ireland,” O’Reilly said. “I looked for Bill, but I didn’t see him.” 

2009: During an on-air segment with Bernard Goldberg, himself a former CBS News journalist, O’Reilly said that the network “sent me to El Salvador and to cover the Falkland Islands war in Argentina.

2011: After reading an email from a viewer who was honeymooning down in Argentina, O’Reilly noted his history with the region. “Tell everybody down there I covered the Falklands War,” he told the viewer. “They’ll remember.”

2012: O’Reilly read an email from a viewer based in the Falkland Islands and said he had “a little soft spot” for the region, given that he “covered the Falklands War.”

2013: During an interview on his Fox News show, O’Reilly once again described the protest but said it took place “in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands.”
“Because I was in a situation one time, in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands, where my photographer got run down and then hit his head and was bleeding from the ear on the concrete,” O’Reilly told his guest. On this one he was confusing, the first half truthful, the second half not.

Out of the seven O’Reilly statements covered by CNN, six unquestionably backed up his claims about being totally honest regarding his time in Argentina, the seventh could be construed as a lie, but is confusing. And given the fact he was honest the other times, O’ Reilly should get the benefit of the doubt in the seventh.

On the other hand O’ Reilly’s claims that Eric Engberg was a big-footer may be true, but they are also hypocritical based on the O’ Reilly factor’s habit of stealing from bloggers without giving credit.

For example, on December 5th 2010, this site broke a video of Helen Thomas being overtly anti-Semitic at a Wayne State University event. I sent the transcript and video to O’Reilly and others on his staff. It was played on his program the next night without any reference to who sent him the video. Did he accidentally run across the video from another site? Maybe but I doubt it, I got the video from a Muslim student who was praising the Thomas appearance.

Seven months before, O’Reilly covered the release of the Helen Thomas tape, which ended up getting her fired. There was no mention of where the story broke (this site).

Bill O’ Reilly was all over the story of the Democrats removing a pro-Israel plank from their platform. Funny how he never mentioned where the story came from. Dave Weigel writing in Slate knew where the story originated:

No, it took until Wednesday morning for Jeff Dunetz, at the YidWithALid blog, to comment that “Democrats have removed this pro-Israel section from their platform.” (They had removed references to Hamas and references to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.) At 11:26 a.m., Weekly Standard reporter Daniel Halper published a story on the platform, making the same point. (He credited YidWithALid.)

While Weigel got the name of the site wrong, at least he got the basics of the story correct. Why couldn’t O’ Reilly get it correct? Perhaps because O’ Reilly is worse than a big foot not only does he steal stories from me and other bloggers, but he trashes us and slanders our accomplishments.

In the end I don’t support O’ Reilly or Mother Jones in their battle over what O’Reilly did and/or said in the Falklands. Like the vast majority of bloggers, I support the truth. And while so far, the truth is on his side with respect to the Falkland story; he is totally hypocritical in his statement about Eric Engberg’s big-footing, stealing others’ work as the master of the No-Spin Zone is a regular practitioner of the art of big footing.

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