Two one-time CBS News colleagues battled out on the two cable news media affairs programs this morning.
In one corner, Bill O’Reilly on Fox News’s “MediaBuzz” defending his coverage more than 30 years ago in Argentina when he was with CBS News. In the other corner, another former CBS News correspondent, Eric Engberg on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” shooting down O’Reilly’s storytelling (which began with a Facebook post yesterday) about his coverage.
A fiery O’Reilly called in to “MediaBuzz,” first reading a report from The New York Times from June 15, 1982, meant to bolster his argument that it was a riotous situation that day in Buenos Aires. He then took a shot at Engberg’s work ethic:
“His nickname was room service Eric…he never left the hotel,” O’Reilly said.
“I left the hotel and he was still in the hotel,” O’Reilly says. “I came running back that night and he was in the hotel. So if he was in the plaza, where was the video? Why did I have to run it up to the feed point? So I don’t even know if he was there. I’d like everybody to ask him, ‘were you you there?'”
Over on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” Engberg said. “I was on the scene.”
Both “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter and “MediaBuzz” host Howard Kurtz asked their guests if this was a bubbling up of a drawn-out personal grudge, timed to the embellishments of Brian Williams.
Said O’Reilly to Kurtz: “Yeah, because in 1998, I laced him for big footing.”
Said Engberg to Stelter: “No. He started a personal dispute saying we were all hiding in our hotel rooms” (referring to a 2009 interview O’Reilly conducted with HamptonsTV.) Engberg added: “I have this personal dispute with him: He’s not a real reporter.”
Stelter has requested to interview O’Reilly. He declined.
O’Reilly has requested to interview Engberg. He also declined. “I don’t want to turn this into an argument on his turf over what he did that night,” was Engberg’s explanation of why he turned down the Fox News host.
“He’s on CNN, but why won’t he come on with me?” O’Reilly asked (and answered.) “He’s a coward, Okay. He’s a coward.”
Perhaps O’Reilly/Engberg could be the undercard for Pacquiao/Mayweather, with words not fists.
As for how O’Reilly is being perceived inside Fox News, a spokesperson says that Chairman & CEO Roger Ailes and all senior management are in full support of O’Reilly.