Unlike his hero Donald Trump, Fox Newsman Geraldo Rivera is apologizing for an incident involving sexual harassment with actress Bette Midler about 45 years ago, in which she says he forced drugs on her and then along with his producer groped her without her consent.
The apology doesn’t speak to the specifics of Midler’s charges – or include an admission that he in fact acted improperly and without permission touched her body – but rather skirts around it to say he is sorry if he “embarrassed” her and that he wrote about it in a book.
Although I recall the time @BetteMidler has alluded to much differently than she, that does not change the fact that she has a right to speak out & demand an apology from me, for in the very least, publically embarrassing her all those years ago. Bette, I apologize.
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) December 1, 2017
His reference to publicly embarrassing Midler has to do with things he wrote in a 1991 memoir “Exposing Myself,” which he calls a “kiss and tell tome” that he now says he is embarrassed he wrote.
In a review of the book at the time by The Washington Post, according to ABC News, Rivera wrote that “We were in the bathroom, preparing for the interview, and at some point, I put my hands on her breasts.”
27 years ago I wrote a tawdry book depicting consensual events in 1973-45 years ago-I’ve deeply regretted its distasteful & disrespectful tone & have refrained from speaking about it-I’m embarrassed & profoundly sorry to those mentioned-I have & again apologize to anyone offended
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) December 1, 2017
Rivera’s tweets were prompted by Midler yesterday sharing a 1991 clip of an interview she did with Barbara Walters during which he named Rivera and an unnamed producer as the ones who had groped her in the incident in the 1970s when she was just starting and Rivera was a high profile talk show host know for his tabloid journalism methods.
Tomorrow is my birthday. I feel like this video was a gift from the universe to me. Geraldo may have apologized for his tweets supporting Matt Lauer, but he has yet to apologize for this. #MeToo pic.twitter.com/TkcolFWfA2
— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) November 30, 2017
In the clip with Walters, Midler called Rivera “a slimy talk show host.”
“This was when (Rivera) was very, sort of, hot. And he and his producer left the crew in the other room, they pushed me into my bathroom, they broke out two poppers (alkyl nitrite) and pushed them under my nose and proceeded to grope me. Groped me. I did not offer myself up on the alter Geraldo Rivera. He was – he was unseemly.”
This was not Rivera’s first apology this week. He has also backed off an earlier tweet showing sympathy to Matt Lauer, the NBC star who lost his job when accusations arose about his sexual harassment and sexual bullying of women on the Today Show staff. Rivera made several references to how “flirty” people in news are with each other.
Sad about @MLauer great guy, highly skilled & empathetic w guests & a real gentleman to my family & me. News is a flirty business & it seems like current epidemic of #SexHarassmentAllegations may be criminalizing courtship & conflating it w predation. What about #GarrisonKeillor?
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) November 29, 2017
Rivera’s tweets even brought a frosty response from his conservative bosses at Fox News, which has been the subject of many sexual harassment claims and stories in recent months, including those about the late Roger Ailes and former network star Bill O’Rilley, both of whom made huge payoffs to try and keep their untoward behavior under wraps.
With his bosses signaling they were not pleased, Rivera backpedaled.
In response to his comments, Fox News issued a statement saying, “Geraldo’s tweets do not reflect the views of Fox News or its management. We were troubled by his comments and are addressing them with him.”
Not long after, Rivera tweeted another lukewarm apology that wasn’t really to the point of what he had said about Lauer. Instead, he was just sorry he said anything it seems.
Reaction to my tweets today on #sexharassment makes clear
I didn't sufficiently explain that this is a horrendous problem
long hidden-Harassers are deviants who deserve what is coming
to them-Often victims are too frightened to come
forward in a timely fashion-I humbly apologize
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) November 30, 2017
Once a promising newsman with a hard edge and a willingness to speak truth to power, Rivera has now evolved into a mediocre reporter in part because he is often an apologist for those in power, and certainly those who have power over his career – at Fox.
It is truly embarrassing to hear Rivera talk about Trump on the air these days, as he finds excused to ignore all of the president’s mistakes, lies, and political smoke screens.
When Rivera, who grew up in New York City and is half-Puerto Rican, was on the ground in San Juan recently covering the post-hurricane disaster shortly after Trump’s brief, controversial excursion to the island, Rivera had nothing but praise for the president.
This is part of a continuing pattern in which Rivera – like others on Fox – to apologize for the president and praise whatever he does, no matter how much it causes outrage across the nation.
His overdue apology to Midler came after she noted that while he was apologizing for his comment on Lauer, “he has yet to apologize for this,” meaning what he did to her.
Midler ended that message with #MeToo, the hashtag for women who are coming forward with stories about unwanted advances, sexual harassment and even rape in recent weeks, at the hands of men who had great power, sometimes over them.
While the growing list of powerful, high profile men accused of improper behavior to women that began with Bill Cosby and exploded with Harvey Weinstein continues, one result is that characters like Rivera, whom Midler accurately called “slimy,” are forced to squirm in the unwanted spotlight.
Unlike many others, it appears Rivera will keep his job, where he will continue to be a Trump apologist and flounder around trying to recapture the glory of his youth.
Midler, meanwhile, is starring on Broadway in “Hello Dolly” and is enjoying yet another major career renaissance.
It took nearly half a century, but there is some justice in all this that seems appropriate.
Midler also used this moment to take a shot at Trump for his claims that the voice on the famous Access Hollywood tape that came out during last year’s election was not his, even though at the time he admitted it was him and apologized.
I believe #Trump may have dementia. He actually thinks we will believe that it’s NOT HIS VOICE on that tape! He MUST be losing it big time!
— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) November 29, 2017
Happy birthday Bette.