O'Reilly agreed with O'Neill's lies, then boasted of "fairest Swift Boat coverage in the country"September 16, 2004 6:36 PM EDT ››› GABE WILDAU
Since his September 7 TV interview with John E. O'Neill, FOX News Channel host Bill O'Reilly has frequently boasted about how factual and fair his coverage of the anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been. On the September 14 broadcast of The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, O'Reilly bragged: "We did the fairest Swift Boat coverage in the country. And [Swift Boat Veterans for Truth co-founder] O'Neill had some points and they were valid. And there's stuff -- some stuff he said that wasn't valid. And we laid it out for you so you can decide on your opinion."
In fact, though O'Reilly did get O'Neill to admit that "[Kerry accuser and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth member] Larry Thurlow ... changed his story a little bit," O'Reilly actually agreed with at least two of O'Neill's lies about Kerry -- even though they had already been discredited.
During the interview on the September 7 edition of FOX News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly falsely declared that Kerry "was craven when he came back to the U.S. by besmirching all the fine soldiers in Vietnam. I think that's true." O'Reilly also agreed with O'Neill when Kerry repeated the false claim about Kerry's 1971 testimony before a Senate committee as spokesman for Vietnam Veterans Against the War:
O'NEILL: Well, the problem, Bill, is the biggest thing for us has always been, you know, classifying, you know, 58,000 of our friends, 55 of our friends that we left back there, as the army of Genghis Khan ...
O'REILLY: I agree with you.
But as Media Matters for America has repeatedly explained (on August 23, August 24, August 31, and September 2), Kerry never "besmirched all the fine soldiers" or issued any classification of "58,000 of our friends." Kerry's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee simply recounted the stories of other Vietnam veterans who related their personal experiences during the Winter Soldier Investigation. In its second TV ad, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth used selective editing to grossly distort Kerry's testimony.
O'Reilly also agreed with O'Neill when O'Neill referred to accusations that Kerry lied when he claimed to have spent Christmas Eve 1968 in Cambodia. (MMFA has previously noted O'Reilly's baseless insistence that "I know he wasn't there. So take it to the bank.") While there is no definitive evidence that Kerry was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve (not surprising, given that such incursions were illegal), as The Washington Post explained, the available evidence proves that Kerry was within 40 miles of the Cambodian border by 7 a.m. that day and had plenty of time to cover the distance. And as Slate.com's Fred Kaplan detailed in an August 23 article, Kerry's assertions are entirely consistent with what is known about U.S. incursions into Cambodia at that time.
Moreover, O'Reilly neglected to mention that O'Neill has contradicted himself on the issue of Cambodia, as MMFA has noted. O'Neill had claimed that no one was allowed in Cambodia during the war. But an audiotape of O'Neill's brief meeting with former President Richard Nixon in 1971 reveals that O'Neill told Nixon that he was in fact in Cambodia on a swift boat during Vietnam.