The Fox News host who came to defend Matt Lauer following his firing from NBC for sexual misconduct has apologized after his comments received backlash from both the public and his own network.
Geraldo Rivera first reacted to the news by tweeting, “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.” He then sought to make amends for his comments by making a series of tweets about sexual harassment in the workplace, which included creating his own guidelines for when allegations of sexual misconduct should be taken seriously.
By Wednesday evening, Rivera had issued a statement an apology on Twitter.
“Reaction to my tweets today on
#sexharassment makes clear I didn’t sufficiently explain that this is a horrendous problem long hidden,” he wrote. “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.”
In a few of Rivera’s controversial tweets, the media personality suggested that the accusers were merely disgruntled exes and sought to put forth his own definition of sexual harassment.
“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,” he wrote. He referred to news as a “flirty business” in another, saying, “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?”
A new report revealed that some of the sexual harassment claims made against Lauer included a display of inappropriate behavior; his gifting of a sex toy to a coworker; showing his genitalia to another and then scolding her for not engaging him in sexual activity; and constantly playing the crude game “f**k, marry or kill” to indicate the female colleagues with whom he wanted to have sex.
Rivera’s Twitter commentary prompted Fox News to issue the following statement: “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.”
News of Lauer’s firing was reported on Wednesday as a result of a sexual misconduct accusation. NBC News chairman Andrew Lack wrote in a memo, “We were … presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.” It was soon discovered that Lauer was accused of sexually assaulted a woman during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.
A video of Katie Couric saying in 2012 that Lauer pinched her “on the ass a lot” also resurfaced on Wednesday.
Several people working in media eventually admitted that they and others were already aware that several women had made claims against Lauer privately over the past few months.