Fox News has now stated that host Bill O’Reilly’s claim that he saw action in Northern Ireland was based on seeing photographs of violence shown him by police, the Washington Post reports.
O’Reilly’s claims to have seen violence in Northern Ireland and elsewhere have come under withering fire from his opponents.
O’Reilly has stated that he reported from Northern Ireland and in his 2013 book “Keep it Pithy” he stated “I’ve seen....Irish terrorists kill and maim their fellow citizens in Belfast with bombs.”
However, the Washington Post points out he told syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt a different story: “We went on a raid in Divis Flats (Republican stronghold high rise flats ) with the police. And it was a pretty intense situation. There was stuff being thrown, arrests being made, all of that.”
“Were you in fear of physical harm?” Hewitt asked.
No, O’Reilly said.
Fox News clarified to the Washington Post that O’Reilly had been shown pictures of violent incidents and victims of bombings by police but had not actually seen any such incidents first hand himself.
That explanation is very similar to what they told critics about his time in El Salvador where he stepped back from comments about seeing nuns shot to seeing pictures of nuns who were shot.
The Washington Post stated that they asked Fox about O’Reilly’s statements on Northern Ireland Friday, and a Fox News spokesman 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.”
O’Reilly went to Belfast in 1984 to research a book that never actually got written. At the time he was working for the Boston WCBV TV station but covered only local stories and did commentaries though he did have contacts with Irish Americans concerned about what was happening in Northern Ireland.
They found O’Reilly responsive on the issue.
Talking about the North and other trouble spots, he once stated “I’ve been there... That’s really what separates me from most of these other bloviators. I bloviate, but I bloviate about stuff I’ve seen. He claimed to have covered four wars, El Salvador’s civil war in the 1980s, the 1982 Falklands conflict, Northern Ireland and Israel/Palestine.
“I’ve seen the best and the worst,” he stated.