Bill O’Reilly Threatened a New York Times Reporter Over His ‘War Zone’ Controversy

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Bill O'Reilly.Photo: Nancy Kaszerman/ZUMAPRESS.com

When NBC News suspended Brian Williams over his various exaggerations, Bill O’Reilly was characteristically sanctimonious. “Reporting comes with a big responsibility, the Founding Fathers made that point very clearly,” he said. “They said to us, ‘We’ll give you freedom. We’ll protect you from government intrusion. But, in return, you, the press, must be honest.’” Judging from O’Reilly’s actions after he was accused last week of similar fabrications concerning his reporting for CBS News during the Falklands War, he also disagrees with how Williams handled the situation. Rather than apologizing and lying low, O’Reilly has lashed out at various journalists covering the controversy, and now he’s reportedly threatened a reporter from the New York Times.

The Times reported on Monday night:

During a phone conversation, he told a reporter for The New York Times that there would be repercussions if he felt any of the reporter’s coverage was inappropriate. “I am coming after you with everything I have,” Mr. O’Reilly said. “You can take it as a threat.”

Emily Steel, who co-authored the story with Ravi Somaiya, confirmed on Twitter that O’Reilly was speaking to her. 

This is his most high-profile attack in recent days, but it’s far from his first. Mother Jones broke the news that O’Reilly has repeatedly said he reported from a “war zone” and a “combat situation” during the 1982 conflict, while he was actually covering a related protest in Buenos Aires, which is more than a thousand miles from the Falklands. Friday night on The O’Reilly Factor, the host said Mother Jones is “considered by many the bottom rung of journalism in America,” and called the story’s co-author David Corn a “guttersnipe” and a “liar.” He also declared that Brian Stelter, who dared pick up the story, “is another far-left zealot … masquerading as a journalist. CNN can do a lot better than this guy.”

Then in an interview with TVNewser, O’Reilly said that when he’s vindicated, “then I expect David Corn to be in the kill zone. Where he deserves to be.” After Mother Jones complained that the remark “crossed the line” with its “violent tone,” O’Reilly said, “It’s simply a slang expression.”

O’Reilly also bashed former CBS correspondent Eric Engberg, who was with him in Buenos Aires. Engberg criticized O’Reilly in a lengthy Facebook post on Friday, saying, “It was not a war zone or even close. It was an ‘expense account zone.’” The next day, O’Reilly responded on Fox News: “I’d like everybody to ask him, ‘Where you there?’” he said. “Because his reputation, his nickname, was ‘Room Service Eric,’ that he never left the hotel.”

While NBC News was aghast at its biggest star being accused of journalistic lapses, Fox News seems to be enjoying it. “Fox News Chairman and C.E.O. Roger Ailes and all senior management are in full support of Bill O’Reilly,” said a network spokesperson. “Fox News channel is news for people who don’t trust the rest of the news media,” NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen explained in the Times. “They actually want the controversy because it fits this strategy.”

As O’Reilly noted in Friday’s broadcast, the story is just “more proof the American media is corrupt,” and “real journalists” knew the accusations were “B-S from the jump.” So if outlets like CNN and the Times are covering the story, that just confirms that Fox News is your only source for fair and balanced reporting.