Politico’s Dylan Byers does a pretty good job explaining why the Falklands story hasn’t stuck very well to Bill O’Reilly…
Had O’Reilly falsely claimed to have been on the Falkland Islands when he wasn’t, the Fox News host might be in serious trouble. But he never really said that. He has said that he was “in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands,” which can reasonably be defended as short-hand for “in the Falklands War” — especially because O’Reilly has oft described his experiences there as taking place in Buenos Aires. “I was not on the Falkland Islands and I never said I was,” O’Reilly told the On Media blog last week. That hasn’t really been disputed since.
Instead, the debate has shifted to whether or not O’Reilly was actually in “a war zone” or a “combat situation,” as he has repeatedly claimed. Well, no, he wasn’t. He was present at a violent protest — or “a riot,” or “a demonstration” — that took place immediately after the conclusion of the war. This is a major embellishment, defensible only under the most forgiving parameters of what constitutes wartime activity. Whatever the case, an embellishment is not going to lead Roger Ailes to fire his most valuable personnel asset. (The network has said that “Fox News Chairman and C.E.O. Roger Ailes and all senior management are in full support of Bill O’Reilly.”)
This was never Brian Williams Part 2. Whatever happened in Argentina with O’Reilly, it doesn’t equate to what has been documented about Williams. And that’s the fundamental problem here because O’Reilly’s antagonists were playing long ball swinging for the fences…and not making it out of the park…the equivalent of a pop-up flyball. There are legitimate questions that could be raised about what O’Reilly claimed…and his response to the charges…but they don’t appear to amount to out and out falsehoods. So by claiming them as such, O’Reilly was able to credibly defend himself to those charges…while at the same time being able to dodge any legitimate questions on the theory that the well had been poisoned. It’s a classic tactic. If you can discredit your opponent legitimately, you can then parry the discussion to your opponents credibility. Then everyone starts talking about that and not whatever legitimate questions still remain because the oxygen gets sucked up.