After providing a controversial defense of Matt Lauer after his firing from NBC over allegations of sexual misconduct, Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera may be facing some issues of his own as an allegation made against him in the past comes back around.
Rivera released a memoir in 1991 called “Exposing Myself.” In the book, he claimed that he and notable actress Bette Midler engaged in a sexual affair. But when asked about the claim by Barbara Walters in an interview, Midler had a different point of view. After saying that she and her husband laughed that Rivera made her sound like a “sexy chick,” Midler told Walters that she didn’t remember the supposed affair.
In fact, the one thing she did remember of Rivera was how they met; she said of it, “And that was not funny.”
“Geraldo and his producer came to do an interview with me in the ’70s, in the early ’70s. And this was when he was very, sort of hot,” she recalled. “And he and his producer left the crew in the other room, they pushed me into my bathroom, they broke two poppers and pushed them under my nose and proceeded to grope me.”
Walters’ mouth hung open at the thought of the pair forcing drugs up Midler’s nose and touching her inappropriately.
“I did not offer myself up on the altar of Geraldo Rivera,” Midler added. ” … His behavior was unseemly.”
Rivera was already in the middle of another controversy when he first reacted to the news of Lauer’s firing 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.
He apologized for his comments on Wednesday evening.
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. 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.
Another 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.
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.