Did Bill O’Reilly’s Falklands Reporting Land Him a High-Paying Job?

By Brian Flood 

Bill O’Reilly’s version of events that occurred while he was covering the Falklands War for CBS back in 1982 have been questioned lately. But, according The Boston Globe the Fox News star actually landed a 200K per-year gig on Channel 7 in Boston because networks execs were impressed with his Falklands coverage.

“We were looking at hundreds of audition tapes, and this one stood out for precisely that episode,” said Bill Applegate, then the station’s vice president of news told the Globe.

Applegate and Nick Lawler, the Channel 7 news director in 1982, said that to the best of their recollection, the audition tape they received 33 years ago included clips of O’Reilly’s Falklands coverage and that his gritty on-the-ground reporting made the Boston University graduate seem like a perfect fit for WNEV-TV (now WHDH-TV).

This story doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, as PolitiFact published a story today focusing on O’Reilly’s statement, “I never said I was on the Falklands Islands.”

The central word here is “on.” O’Reilly has a point that — at least so far as we can tell — he’s always said he was “in” the Falklands conflict rather than “on” the islands.

At the very least, we can say that when O’Reilly talked about the Falklands in the past, his phrasing was ambiguous — to the extent that reasonable people could understand him to mean he’d set foot in a place where military combat was taking place, not reporting from 1,000 miles away. Also, O’Reilly offered his statement as proof that he never had falsely claimed that he was in the thick of the fighting. But you can suggest you were there without specifying that you were on the islands. The English language is plenty flexible enough to convey the same meaning using a different word, such as “in.”

O’Reilly’s statement is accurate but omits important context, so we rate this claim Half True.