Bill O’Reilly joined me to take on the David Corn hit piece aimed at him:
HH: It’s going to be quite a show audience tonight for the O’Reilly Factor as Bill O’Reilly responds to David Corn and Mother Jones. Bill, welcome back, always a pleasure to talk to you.
BO’R: Same, Hugh, thanks for having me in.
HH: Bill, when have you been in combat?
BO’R: Well, you have to define what that situation is. I’ve been shot at a couple of times, once in Argentina. We were in a fort in San Francisco Gotera that took fire in El Salvador. So you know, those situations.
HH: So that’s a definition of combat. Would you consider a riot a general combat definition? You know, I’ve been in…
BO’R: When it’s, you know, when it’s in a war setting, of course.
HH: And so the Argentina situation that Corn is hitting you on, you classify as combat, even though it wasn’t, everyone knows, no one got to the Falkland Islands.
BO’R: Correct, and nobody said that I did, and I never said I did. After the Argentines surrendered, the army had to put down an insurrection inside Buenos Aires, and it’s certainly combat. And anybody who was there will tell you that.
HH: Did you hear shots fired in anger?
BO’R: Did I hear them?
BO’R: Yeah, I heard them. I saw people hit the turf.
HH: And did your cameraman get hurt in some way?
BO’R: He got his head, he hit his head on the ground. People were trampling and all of that. So he was a little dazed. He might have had a concussion. You know, I never really diagnosed it. But he got a little dazed.
HH: And so did you help him out of the way? That’s one of the accounts that Corn is attacking.
BO’R: Yeah, he’s attacking everything, and I certainly did that.
HH: Okay, what’s his name, the cameraman’s name?
HH: And has he backed you up on this? Are you bringing him on tonight to back you up?
BO’R: I don’t even know where he is. I don’t, you know, I’m not interested, Hugh, in validating Corn’s flights of fantasy. I have no interest in that at all. I told the truth. I’ve always told the truth about my reportorial experiences, and that’s that. I’m not on the defensive. I’m on the offensive.
HH: Then tell us about…
BO’R: Did you see the memo we released today from CBS saying what a great job I did?
HH: No, I haven’t, and Bill, I don’t doubt that. I just want to get you on the record saying when you were in combat and when you weren’t. And Northern Ireland, you went to Northern Ireland when the troubles were on, right?
HH: And how close to violence in Northern Ireland did you come?
BO’R: Well, it depends what you mean by violence. We went on a raid in Divis Flats with the police. And it was a pretty intense situation. There was stuff being thrown, arrest being made, all of that.
HH: Were you in fear of physical harm?
HH: I didn’t hear you, Bill Yes?
BO’R: No, no.
BO’R: I’m, you know, fear is an emotion that people have when they’re caught in circumstances beyond their control. And the only time I was in a circumstance that was beyond my control was in Argentina, in Buenos Aires, after the surrender and the insurrection took place in town.
HH: So I’ve never been in a combat zone. I tell that to people all the time. I have covered a riot, the L.A. riots in 1992, and it was not a pleasant place to be. I don’t know that I was ever…
BO’R: I was right there in Normandie and Vermont.
HH: All right, and so…
BO’R: We were attacked, we were attacked by protesters, where bricks were thrown at us, so you and I have that in common.
HH: Well, no one threw a brick at me, because I cowered behind the KCET walls the whole time. But I actually went on into the streets and saw what the aftermath was like.
HH: And a lot of people did get threatened by that. So would you consider that combat, though? I’ve never described that as combat.
BO’R: No, that wasn’t combat, because there wasn’t an organized armed force where we were. We were doing live shots for Inside Edition, and it was basically a bunch of losers who were trying to cause trouble. So that wouldn’t be combat.
HH: So the difference between the Argentina situation and the L.A. riots is the presence of the military?
BO’R: Yes, absolutely.
HH: Now the Argentinian military was a ruthless bunch, right? They did the disappeared. They were vicious. Did they kill people on the occasion that you were there?
BO’R: We saw people hit the turf, but interestingly enough, it was impossible to report what happened as far as numbers are concerned. I just read a report today from a Canadian, Montreal newspaper that said there were 10,000 demonstrators. I didn’t see that, and I’d say, I think the crowd estimate was about 2,000. But I was right in front of the presidential palace, Casa Rosada. But I certainly saw people hit the ground and blood in the street. But how would any journalist get an accurate count of that when, as you said, the army was basically shooting the reporters? And I mean, one reporter got shot twice in the leg. So you know, there was a lot of chaos there, and very, very hard to ascertain what the damage was.
HH: So El Salvador, Argentina, Northern Ireland, foreign events. Any other ones that you’ve reported on from war zones or near war zones?
BO’R: Well, you know, I was in Iraq and Kuwait. I was in Kuwait after the first Gulf War. And we were on the Highway of Death. The Iraqi soldiers had already retreated. Then I went back to Iraq during the second Iraq War when it was pretty hot, and that was for visiting the troops in the zones. And then I went to Afghanistan for the same purpose. So I’ve been around.
HH: Well, of course, I guess the question becomes what is the problem that they are trying to assign to you? With Brian Williams, the problem is he exaggerated the danger in which he was.
BO’R: Well, this is, look, Hugh, Hugh, you know exactly what this is. If there’s anybody in the country that knows, it’s you. This is a political hit piece. We expected it to come. They’re furious that a person like Brian Williams, who I think would be, this would be a fair assessment, was sympathetic to the left, has been hammered. So now they’re going to try to do something, these Mother Jones far left zealots, to embarrass the big guy who they consider to be conservative. That’s it.
HH: Yeah, David Corn is no friend of this show. We’ve clashed on this show. He has refused to come back on this show.
BO’R: He, look, all you have to do, and your audience to do, is Google him. Just Google him – Fox News and O’Reilly, and you’ll see the vicious smear merchant. And that’s what he does. So everybody knows what this is.
HH: But is there anything, Bill…
BO’R: And I have nothing…
HH: People tell war stories. People who haven’t been in war tell war stories or fish stories, or anything like it. Is there anything you’ve reported that you’ve exaggerated you want to get ahead of?
HH: You don’t exaggerate anything at any time?
BO’R: I have not.
HH: Ever play with any big bands? Sometimes, that happens on our show. People claim to have played with big bands and they haven’t played with big bands, some people.
BO’R: No, I was too busy at the Battle of the Bulge.
HH: (laughing) So Bill, what are you going to do tonight? How are you going to handle this?
BO’R: You’ve got to watch the show.
HH: Oh, you shameless tease.
BO’R: Listen to what I mentioned to you. This is very important. After this happened, I knew this was going to be a big deal, but Fox didn’t think it would be, because David Corn has no credibility. But we knew, I knew that the internet, people who don’t like me, would pick it up and they would take it seriously, even though they knew it wasn’t serious. They knew it was a hit job, but they weren’t going to, you know, the Salon’s of the world, and the Huffington Post’s of the world, they weren’t going to do that. They were just going to report it like it was fact. So last night, I didn’t deal with it at all on the Factor, and I went home, and I went down to my basement, and I rummaged around. And this is why I believe in God. I found a 33 year old memo written by CBS executives in New York City sent to the bureau chief in Buenos Aires saying what a great job I did covering the conflict.
HH: Did you call…
BO’R: And I’m putting that on the air tonight.
HH: Did you really call Corn a guttersnipe?
BO’R: Are you listening to me at all, Hugh?
HH: I am. I want to read the memo, but I want to know if you called Corn, because that’s a fine turn of phrase, Bill O’Reilly.
BO’R: Well, he is a guttersnipe. That’s who he is.
HH: That’s what I, you just gave me my gimme. Bill O’Reilly, I will be watching the O’Reilly Factor tonight. Thanks for joining me. You don’t get into a fight with Bill unless you want to go 12 rounds, America.
End of interview.