Bill O’Reilly’s ‘war zone’ claims

Fox news host Bill O’Reilly criticized NBC anchor Brian Williams for falsely claiming that he  was nearly shot down in a helicopter covering the invasion of Iraq in 2003. But now O’Reilly himself is facing questions about his claims that he has seen combat and worked in a war zone.

A Mother Jones report, written by David Corn and Daniel Schulman, focuses primarily on O’Reilly’s claims about his coverage of the 1982 Falklands war between England and Argentina. The report cites numerous instances where O’Reilly said he reported from the war zone and witnessed conflict first-hand.

“I’ve been there,” O’Reilly said on one occasion, according to the report. “That’s really what separates me from most of these other bloviators. I bloviate but I bloviate about stuff I’ve seen.”

Yet the Mother Jones report says O’Reilly was stuck in Buenos Aires during the war and never made it to the islands where fighting occurred nearly 1,400 miles off the coast of Argentina. O’Reilly apparently did cover protests in Buenos Aires after the war that turned violent, but the Mother Jones report suggests O’Reilly’s claims about the violence may have been exaggerated.

O’Reilly, who did not talk to the Mother Jones reporters, fired back in interviews with other media outlets. He told Politico that the Mother Jones story is “a piece of garbage” and that Corn is “a liar” and a “despicable guttersnipe” who has been trying to take him down “for years.” He made similar statements to Erik Wemple’s blog in the Washington Post.

In his interview with Politico, O’Reilly said that he never claimed to have been on the Falkland Islands. “I was not on the Falkland Islands and I never said I was. I was in Buenos Aires… In Buenos Aires we were in a combat situation after the Argentines surrendered.”

One example in the Mother Jones report is an interview O’Reilly did with Boston Globe photographer John Tlumacki after the Boston Marathon bombings. Talking about the responsibility of journalists when they are covering a situation where people are injured, O’Reilly said: “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. And the army was chasing us.”

Corn, responding to O’Reilly’s attacks on him and his reporting, said the Fox news host is ducking on the facts. “He said he was in the war zone during the Falkland Island conflicts — the conflict was in the Falkland Islands, it was not in Buenos Aires,” Corn said. “He covered a protest after the war was over in Buenos Aires. I don’t think that’s a reasonable definition of a combat situation. If you look up ‘combat situation’ in the dictionary, it’s not ‘an ugly protest.'”

–BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

Gov. Charlie Baker says everything is on the table to fix the T, including new revenues. But he says new taxes would not be his first choice. The Boston Globe parses Baker’s words on new taxes more closely.Shirley Leung thinks Baker will need to eventually back some form of added revenue to fix the T. Joan Vennochi unpacks what it means that it’s now easier to fly nonstop from Logan to Shanghai than to get from Quincy to South Station on the T.

Baker’s new 16-member task force on opioid abuse includes Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter, who has been leading the fight to expand treatment for years because of his son’s battle with addiction going back to high school. Baker releases data on opioid deaths and the data for Worcester County suggests the area is not suffering as badly as many thought, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

The Patriot Ledger and Brockton Enterprise urge the Legislature to pass the “Death with Dignity” bill.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Be careful what you wish for. Once the snow finally melts, experts are warning that the region’s rivers may flood, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

The Saugus Town Council hires Sean Fitzgerald, the town manager in Plaistow, New Hampshire, as its top manager, the Item reports.

The Beverly City Council gives approval to a plan to redevelop the former McKay Elementary School into 32 apartments, the Salem News reports.

ELECTIONS

Die-hard Elizabeth Warren fans in Western Mass. apparently aren’t on board with the Liz-for-Prez thing, arguing that she should continue to fight, at least for now, in the US Senate.

The Globe’s James Pindell introduces us to the 115 Republican activists in New Hampshire who will be courted vigorously by GOP presidential hopefuls.

Some groups and pundits on the right are pushing the Republican National Committee to dump NBC as the host for two GOP presidential primary debates in the wake of the Brian Williams fiasco and their general distaste for what they perceive as the peacock network’s political leanings.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The nerds can fix this: Participants in this weekend’s  International CodeAcross at MIT will have at Boston’s snow-related conundrums.

Springfield officials are trying to smooth out bureaucratic hurdles so that the CNR can break ground on the factory that will build new MBTA rail cars by the summer.

Wal-Mart is giving 500,000 of its workers raises, first to $9 an hour in April and $10 an hour next February, Time reports.

Apple is developing an electric car that could launch in 2020, Bloomberg reports.

EDUCATION

Boston announces the names of four finalists in the running to be the district’s next school superintendent. All are minority males from out of state, eliciting some grumbling about the lack of a female candidate. (Meanwhile, it’s back to the butcher block for former state education secretary Matthew Malone, who took a sabbatical to learn the butcher trade at a Roslindale meat market while waiting to see if he’d be tapped for the Boston post.)

Plans for a satellite campus of Massasoit Community College to be built in downtown Brockton are still on track despite a change in administrations and budget belt-tightening.

A new report finds the number of large donations to higher education institutes grew for the second year in a row, with the number of gifts of $50 million or more at the highest level — 43 — in 16 years.

HEALTH CARE

Advocates are urging Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to push harder to help treatment programs that were dislocated by the city’s abrupt closure of the bridge to Long Island where they had been based.

A federal nutrition advisory panel that determines the country’s dietary guidelines has recommended harsh new restrictions on sugar in foods while letting up on previous limits on fat and cholesterol.

Florida officials are awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration to release about four million genetically-altered, no-bite mosquitoes — an action opposed by many locals — into the Florida Keys to see if it helps combat the spread of dengue and chikungunya, two potentially deadly mosquito-borne viruses.

TRANSPORTATION

MBTA police released annual crime statistics that show a mixed bag of increases in assaults, burglaries, and larcenies but a drop in robberies except on the Red Line, which had a sharp spike in thefts that police say was the work of one busy thief who has since been arrested.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Gov. Charlie Baker takes a break from snow duty to address the need to rein in energy costs in the state, touting the need to expand natural gas pipeline capacity coming into Massachusetts. CommonWealth examines the proposed funding mechanism for new pipelines: electricity ratepayers.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A former Boston police superintendent was arrested on domestic violence charges.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson unveils a plan to reduce prison overcrowding that relies on adding new beds as well as reentry programs and alternative sentencing, the Times-Record reports.

MEDIA

Poll shortage? WBUR and the MassINC Polling Group polled this week on the MBTA and a Boston Olympics, and nearly every media outlet decided they had to write their own stories on the results. The Globedid one story Thursday on the T and then went front-page Friday on the Olympics. Masslive, the Patriot Ledger, and NPR all ran poll stories. Steve Koczela of the MassINC Polling Group appeared on Broadside. (Full disclosure: the MassINC Polling Group is owned by MassINC, the publisher of CommonWealth.)

GateHouse Media has laid off a dozen copy editors at the Providence Journal and shifted the jobs and responsibilities down to the company’s production hub in Austin, Texas.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Nieman Journalism Lab analyzes the push by newspapers into online radio; the Boston Herald’s initiative is showcased.

The National Review Online launches a new design of its site that is, pardon the pun, very progressive. Editor-at-large Kathryn Jean Lopez does a NRO through-the-years thing, hitting all the athwart highlights.