Update: FOX News responded to this article, and asked that we include this note: "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." Good for them for taking this seriously.
Yesterday, NBC announced to the world that Matt Lauer had been fired for sexual misconduct. As the day went on, we learned details of Lauer's alleged sex toy "gifts," pants-dropping, and luring young NBC employees to his room on work trips.
Geraldo Rivera took to Twitter to leap to Lauer's defense, calling the news a "flirty business" and questioning if the accusers were just vengeful.
He apologized ... but not before video (below) resurfaced of Bette Midler describing Rivera drugging and groping her during the '70s.
Matt Lauer has been a big name in television news for decades. He projected the image of being a fun and slightly awkward dad, which most people find disarming and even endearing.
Unfortunately, public image so often does not reflect who someone really is.
We heard stories about workplace harassment. Accusations that Lauer gave one female colleague the unsolicited "gift" of a sex toy, along with a note describing how he'd like to use it on her.
Allegations that he dropped his pants while alone with a woman, and later chastised her for being repulsed instead of performing a sex act with him.
We heard about his creepy desk button that remotely locks his door. If a stern "knock first" isn't enough to keep your office as private as you'd like, you are doing things that are not work-related.
There were also stories of a pattern of harassing behavior, particularly on trips for NBC. Allegations that he would find ambitious young women who work for NBC and either invite or lure them to his hotel room.
And Matt Lauer has now been accused of rape. Every part of this is serious.
Geraldo Rivera, who surprises no one by defending creepiness, tweeted out his support for Lauer:
"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?"
The "news is a flirty business" line raised a lot of people's hackles.
And he refers to Garrison Keillor being fired for sexual misconduct. Interesting that Rivera seems willing to defend Keillor when Keillor himself isn't arguing with his termination.
In light of further details about Lauer that have come out, Geraldo's tweet has not aged well.
And neither have the tweets that followed:
"A jerk's a jerk in dating. #SexHarassment should be confined to situations where superior imposes himself on subordinate who feels unable to complain because of power of perp or feared consequences to victim's employment. Shouldn't be used to get even w bad bosses or hated ex's."
We're sure that a lot of men would love for sexual harassment to have a narrow definition. Similarly, thieves would love for stealing to stop being a crime on Tuesdays. That's not how this works.
And, as you saw, he seems to be implying that Lauer's accusers are just being vengeful.
"Heard well-regarded women in media today suggesting morning shows go to an all-female format. That should be as unacceptably retro as the other way around."
One, there have been countless all-male panels and all-male morning shows and all-male Supreme Courts and all-male Congresses. So no, suggesting that an all-woman one might be good is not sexist.
You'd need centuries or millennia of female supremacy for the books to even be balanced. That's not what anyone wants -- they just want a safe working environment.
Geraldo gets even worse, and alleges that, basically, women should come forward immediately (and face retaliation, lawsuits, and ruined careers) or ... just keep quiet, apparently.
"#SexHarassment allegations should require: 1-made in a timely fashion-say w/n 5 yrs. 2-some contemporaneous corroboration, like witnesses, electronic or written communications. W $ settlements in multi-millions slight chance exists some victims are motivated by more than justice."
The classic "financial gain" argument.
"This issue is so red hot right now there is no room for any thought or opinion but hang em high. If News wasn’t (formerly) a flirty biz then how do we explain so many newsroom courtships that have led to happy marriages?"
Ignoring for a moment how dumb that is, Matt Lauer was already married. How wives is one television host supposed to have?
As you can imagine, Geraldo's tweets didn't go over well.
Geraldo actually listened to the responses to his tweets, which was reflected in his apology:
"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."
And that's honestly a good apology.
(It's honestly better than Matt Lauer's apology, which was intensely bland)
However, Geraldo's apology came after an old video of Bette Midler being interviewed by Barbara Walters made the rounds on Twitter.
In it, Bette describes being drugged and groped by Geraldo Rivera during the 1970s.
Keep in mind that, way back in 1991, people talked about sexual assault very differently, unfortunately. And that even extended to the victims.
"Geraldo and his producer came to do an interview with me, in the ‘70s, in the early ‘70s. This was when he was very hot. He and his producer left the crew in the other room, they pushed me into my bathroom, they pushed two poppers under my nose, and proceeded to grope me."
Though Bette doesn't quite sound like she's speaking of this as being as serious as it sounds, she does make it clear that this was not consensual:
"I did not offer myself up on the altar of Geraldo Rivera. He was unseemly."
That is a massive understatement.
Neither Bette nor Geraldo have tweeted about this video yet, but here it is. It's tough to watch: