Since Thursday was a day ending in Y, yet another story broke showing that O’Reilly exaggerated his own heroics and courage in the face of danger that didn’t actually take place. This time it’s a story he did for Inside Edition about the LA riots in 1992.
Former colleagues of Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News host whose tales of past reporting exploits are facing renewed scrutiny, have disputed his account of surviving a bombardment of bricks and rocks while covering the 1992 riots in Los Angeles.
Six people who covered the riots with O’Reilly in California for Inside Edition told the Guardian they did not recall an incident in which, as O’Reilly has claimed, “concrete was raining down on us” and “we were attacked by protesters”.
Several members of the team suggested that O’Reilly may instead be overstating a fracas involving one disgruntled Los Angeles resident, who smashed one of their cameras with a piece of rubble.
Two of the team said the man was angered specifically by O’Reilly behaving disrespectfully after arriving at the smoking remains of his neighbourhood in a limousine, whose driver at one point began polishing the vehicle. O’Reilly is said to have shouted at the man and asked him: “Don’t you know who I am?”
That certainly sounds like O’Reilly, doesn’t it?
O’Reilly has on several occasions referred to a perilous situation he said that he endured while covering the riots in Los Angeles for Inside Edition, the syndicated news magazine show that he fronted between 1989 and 1995.
“They were throwing bricks and stones at us,” O’Reilly told an online interviewer in 2006. “Concrete was raining down on us. The cops saved our butts that time.” Earlier this week, he told the broadcaster Hugh Hewitt: “We were attacked, we were attacked by protesters, where bricks were thrown at us.”
Inside Edition colleagues from the time who were in Los Angeles with O’Reilly — reporters Bonnie Strauss, Tony Cox and Rick Kirkham, and crew members Theresa McKeown, Bob McCall and Neil Antin — told the Guardian that they did not recall such an incident.
Kirkham, the show’s lead reporter on the riots, was adamant that it did not take place. “It didn’t happen,” he said. “If it did, how come none of the rest of us remember it?”
Tonya Freeman, the head of the show’s library at the time, said: “I honestly don’t recall watching or hearing about that. I believe I probably would have remembered something like that.”
So it’s another situation where O’Reilly claims that something very dramatic happened that makes him look like the brave hero of the situation while everyone else who was there says he’s full of shit. Fox News, however, doesn’t care:
A spokeswoman for Fox News declined to respond to detailed questions about O’Reilly’s recollections of the Los Angeles riots. She said in a statement that claims casting doubt on his statements were “nothing more than an orchestrated campaign by far left advocates”.
“Bill O’Reilly has already addressed several claims levelled against him,” the spokeswoman said. “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.”
A completely empty and meaningless response. It does not address the evidence that shows O’Reilly has been lying, evidence that is indisputable. Jeff Morley has audio of O’Reilly saying he was in Dallas from the very night he later claimed to be in Florida, again to put himself at the center of story inaccurately. But Fox News is playing the “we’re under attack by our enemies” card rather than actually addressing the facts. Can’t say that I blame them, though. Facts have never been their strong suit.