Under scrutiny over fabricated accounts of his experiences as a CBS News reporter covering the 1982 Falklands War, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on Monday betrayed the visceral impact the controversy has had on him, threatening a New York Times reporter covering the story.
Less than one week after Mother Jones' David Corn and Daniel Schulman exposed O'Reilly's Falklands fibs, the embattled host has struggled to fend off the story, with numerous former CBS colleagues and Falklands correspondents coming forward to dispute O'Reilly's claims about his purported "war zone" experience. The Times' report, published online Monday night, examines Fox News' fervent defense of O'Reilly, even amid escalating evidence that he has misled the public for years.
Speaking with one of the paper's journalists, O'Reilly vowed a relentless response if he objected to the Times' coverage.
“I am coming after you with everything I have,” O’Reilly said. “You can take it as a threat.”
The remarks quickly made the rounds on social media and news sites, adding a new and bombastic dimension to a controversy that has cast further doubt on O'Reilly's reportorial credentials but appears unlikely to have any consequences for his career at Fox News, which prides itself on its oppositional stance toward the lamestream media.
O'Reilly's threat fit a larger pattern of bluster, which in a very real sense is his trademark as host of "The O'Reilly Factor." Below, Salon looks back at four other times O'Reilly delivered bold, if ultimately unfulfilled, threats.
"Shaming" pro-choice lawmakers
In one of congressional Republicans' many efforts to chip away at reproductive rights, party lawmakers introduced legislation in 2012 banning gender-based abortions, which ultimately failed in the House. The legislation -- devised as a ploy to combat Democrats' "war on women" narrative -- won O'Reilly's support. On his show, he threatened to "name the names of congresspeople who vote against the bill, perhaps advising them they're in sync with China's abhorrent abortion policy."
It called to mind O'Reilly's years-long crusade against women's health care provider Dr. George Tiller, whom he repeatedly referred to as "Tiller the baby killer." After decades of vilification from anti-abortion activists and in right-wing media, Tiller was assassinated by Scott Roeder in 2009.
After Mexican authorities imprisoned U.S. Marine veteran Jon Hammar on firearms charges, O'Reilly threatened a boycott of the entire country in December 2012.
“If Mexico doesn’t release the corporal by Christmas, I’m going to call for a boycott of Mexico. Nobody goes," O'Reilly said, explaining that his boycott would include "individual tourism and airlines flying there. We can do that, and we will.”
As the Washington Post's Erik Wemple noted at the time, O'Reilly had blasted boycotts just months earlier as "fascist" and "un-American." The context? The push for advertisers to dump radio host Rush Limbaugh after he smeared Sandra Fluke as a "slut."
"Tear you to fucking pieces"
In 2003, O'Reilly interviewed Jeremy Glick, a man whose father perished in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Glick took the U.S. to task for “training militarily, economically, and situating geopolitically” the Taliban, but an indignant O'Reilly was having none of it. "Shut up! Shut up!" he thundered at Glick, before cutting off his microphone.
After the interview, Glick told the New Yorker, O'Reilly yelled at him, “Get out of my studio before I tear you to fucking pieces!”
Leaving the U.S.
Amid President Obama's bid to increase taxes on the wealthy, O'Reilly declared in 2011 that he'd leave his show if his ever taxes increased to 50 percent.
"My corporations employ scores of people," O'Reilly said. "They depend on me to do what I do so they can make a nice salary. If Barack Obama begins taxing me more than 50 percent, which is very possible, I don't know how much longer I'm going to do this. I like my job, but there comes a point when taxation becomes oppressive. Is the country really entitled to half a person's income?"
Your move, Mr. President.