Bill O'Reilly has claimed repeatedly that he witnessed the execution of nuns while reporting in 1981 on the civil war in El Salvador, an apparent fabrication that is at odds with both history and what O'Reilly himself has said about arriving in the country after the event took place, according to new information unearthed by Media Matters.
O'Reilly's El Salvador Fabrication Revealed
Between 1980 and 1992, a civil war raged in El Salvador between the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the government of El Salvador. On December 2, 1980, four members of the Salvadoran national guard raped and shot "three American nuns and a layworker." The tragedy ''did more to inflame the debate over El Salvador in the United States than any other single incident,'' according to a 1993 State Department report. After the death of Silvia Arriola, a member of a religious order killed six weeks after those four churchwomen, "no priests or nuns were killed in El Salvador for more than eight years," according to Dr. Anna Lisa Peterson, a professor of religion at the University of Florida.
O'Reilly has spoken on several occasions about his time covering the Salvadoran civil war as a CBS correspondent in 1981, suggesting at least twice that he witnessed the murder of the churchwomen. On the September 27, 2005, edition of his talk-radio program The Radio Factor, O'Reilly said, "I've seen guys gun down nuns in El Salvador." And on the December 14, 2012, edition of his Fox News show, O'Reilly spoke of telling his mother that "I was in El Salvador and I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head."
However, O'Reilly could not possibly have witnessed the murder of the churchwomen if his own timeline is to be believed. The former CBS correspondent only arrived in El Salvador in 1981, as he mentioned on the February 22, 2002, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, saying (according to Nexis transcript), "Before I went to El Salvador in 1981, I talked with some experienced Latin American experts, people who had seen the brutal wars down there for themselves. I had never been in a war zone before, so I wanted some prep."
Conservative media figures reacted with outrage to the February 22 Academy Awards ceremony, including one actress's call for gender pay equality.
Amid controversy over whether he has repeatedly lied about his role as a reporter in Argentina during the Falklands War, Bill O'Reilly once again suggested that he was "down there" in a war zone in 1982.
On the February 19 edition of his show, during a discussion about the lack of networks news coverage of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) conflict, O'Reilly said that he had covered "minor wars like the Falklands ... I was down there in Argentina."
The Fox host has come under fire after Washington bureau chief David Corn pointed out in a recent Mother Jones article that O'Reilly has said he reported from active war zones like the Falklands during his time with CBS News, when in fact no CBS News correspondents reported from the Falkland Islands at the time. O'Reilly lambasted the Mother Jones report, calling it "garbage" and Corn a "guttersnipe."
Corn responded in an interview with Politico's Dylan Byers, explaining that O'Reilly has said (emphasis added):
"He said he was in the war zone during the Falkland Island conflicts -- the conflict was in the Falkland Islands, it was not in Buenos Aires," Corn said. "He covered a protest after the war was over in Buenos Aires. I don't think that's a reasonable definiton of a combat situation. If you look up 'combat situation' in the dictionary, it's not 'an ugly protest'."
Fox News host Stacey Dash apologized for comments she made on the network suggesting that some sexual assault victims are "bad girls ... who like to be naughty."
On the January 30 edition of Fox's Outnumbered, the co-hosts discussed reports that sorority women at the University of Virginia were ordered by their national chapters to avoid fraternity "bid night" parties. Dash commented, "I think it's a good thing for the good girls ... to be told, stay home. Be safe. The other bad girls -- bad women -- or the ones who like to be naughty, might go out and play and get hurt."
Rush Limbaugh fawned over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his potential to be the GOP's 2016 presidential nominee, seemingly impressed that some may have drawn comparisons between Walker's recent remarks and Rush's own rhetoric.
On the January 26 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh praised Walker's January 24 appearance at the Iowa Freedom Summit, a gathering of conservative activists, lawmakers, and 2016 hopefuls in Des Moines. Limbaugh raved that Walker "wowed them" at the Summit and suggested that Walker's speech was reminiscent of Limbaugh's own remarks at CPAC in 2009:
LIMBAUGH: Apparently he showed up and he made a speech on Saturday that had people telling [him] it reminded them of the speech I gave at CPAC. Now if that's true, that means that he went pedal to the metal, wall-to-wall conservativism with charisma and bold ideas and solutions based on his own policies.
Later in the show, Limbaugh instructed Republicans to treat Walker like Caesar, saying "I really think that Scott Walker is the kind of guy the Republicans need to hoist on one of those chairs they used to take Caesar through the crowds with."
Fox News personalities attacked President Obama for not using the words "Islamic" or "Islam" to describe terrorism in his 2015 State of the Union address, but they ignored that the official GOP response, delivered by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), didn't mention Islam either.
Congressional Republicans are borrowing from years of right-wing media attacks on federal disability benefits to justify their recent attempt to snarl funding for Social Security programs.
On January 6, Republicans in the House of Representatives passed a change to legislative rules that restricts the historically routine transfer of tax money from the Social Security retirement fund to the Social Security disability program. Such transfers have helped keep both Social Security programs solvent. In practice, the rule change makes these reallocations nearly impossible by requiring that they be "accompanied by 'benefit cuts or tax increases that improve the solvency of both funds.' " As the Los Angeles Times' Michael Hiltzik explained, because the disability fund is on track to "run dry as early as next year," this could mean "disability benefits for 11 million beneficiaries would have to be cut 20%."
In a January 6 statement justifying the rule change, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) called the disability program "fraud-plagued." And during a January 14 event in New Hampshire on the long-term future of safety-net programs, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) claimed many who receive disability benefits are "gaming the system" and downplayed disabilities, saying, "over half of the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts. Join the club."
Bill O'Reilly repeatedly interrupted and dismissed two Muslim-American leaders he hosted on his show who explained that, contrary to O'Reilly's claims, many Muslims are standing up to terrorists.
On the January 8 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly invited Hussam Ayloush of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Haris Tarin of the Muslim Public Affairs Council to discuss Muslims' efforts to combat terrorism. O'Reilly repeatedly interrupted and talked over his guests as they attempted to point out that Muslims around the world are taking steps to fight extremism. When Tarin tried to point out that "there's Muslims on the front lines ... who are dying" in the fight against terrorism, O'Reilly cut him off and told him "Here's the deal with the no-spin zone. When you say something that's ridiculous, I'm going to interrupt you."
This year, media coverage of issues affecting women often failed badly, from trivializing sexual assault to pushing inaccurate reports on pending state abortion restrictions. Below are nine major ways the media failed women in 2014.
Michigan State University (MSU) students protested before, during, and after George Will's speech at the university's graduation ceremony in response to the conservative Washington Post syndicated columnist's offensive comments about sexual assault.
MSU invited Will to speak at the December 13 commencement ceremony despite a controversial June column in which he suggested that efforts to fight sexual assault have made "victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges" on college campuses. Students and faculty, women's rights groups, and even Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) condemned the university's decision to host Will and award him an honorary doctorate.
MSU students used the Twitter hashtag #itsonyouMSU to protest the university's decision to host Will for the commencement ceremony. Before Will's speech, students lined up outside of MSU's Breslin Center in a silent protest. MSU Students United, which describes itself as "the autonomous student union of Michigan State University," documented the protests on Twitter, posting pictures of students holding signs with messages like "Only yes means yes" and "Rape is not a privilege":
During the ceremony, students turned their backs on Will's speech in protest, as Bloomberg News reported. Will reportedly didn't mention the controversy surrounding his sexual assault comments:
As Will got up to speak, about 15 people in the audience of several thousand stood up and turned their backs toward him. The columnist, whose writing is carried by hundreds of newspapers, made no mention of the protest, his June 6 column or the subject of sexual assault. The crowd applauded when he was done.
Protesters outside, including students, survivors of sexual assault and support group members, were polite and quiet, braving the chilly weather around the Breslin Center, the school's basketball arena and commencement venue. Some stood with red tape across their mouth and held placards saying "Fund Rape Counselors, Not Rape Apologists."
Joy Wang, a correspondent for News10 in Lansing, MI, posted a picture of the silent protest:
Image via MSU Students United Twitter account.