Geraldo Rivera defended Matt Lauer and called news “a flirty business”. He’d know. A 1991 interview has resurfaced in which Bette Midler told Barbara Walters that Rivera groped her.
Rivera’s had a series of tweets yesterday where he said he felt sadness for Lauer, who was abruptly fired from the Today Show after being accused of sexual misconduct in the workplace.
Rivera said that Lauer is a gentleman and expressed concern that the “epidemic” of sexual harassment allegations against powerful men in media and entertainment is “criminalizing courtship and conflating it with predation”. His tweet:
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 then said that allegation should never be used by women to “get even with bad bosses or hated exes”. He also said that allegations should be made in a “timely fashion”.
In that 1991 Bette Midler interview, it shows the Gay Icon addressing Rivera’s claim that the two had a sexual encounter. In his memoir, creatively titled Exposing Myself (1991), Rivera writes that going into his interview with Midler in the 1970s:
“We were in the bathroom, preparing for the interview, and at some point, I put my hands on her breasts…”
Midler offered a different version to Walters, emphasizing that the encounter was not consensual. Midler:
“Geraldo and his producer came to do an interview with me, in the ’70s. And this was when he 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 two poppers and pushed them under my nose and proceeded to grope me. I did not offer myself up on the altar of Geraldo Rivera. He was… he was unseemly.”
Midler’s accusation didn’t really register with the press at the time because, unlike our era, one star accusing another star of sexual misconduct was not taken as seriously at the time.
Rivera wrote that he had lots of sex in 1970s:
“With all the private people, their names were either changed or they were used with their permission. With the public people, like Bette Midler and Margaret Trudeau and Marian Javits, they live their lives on the public stage, and much worse things have been written about them. I don’t think it’s that slanderous a statement to say that somebody made love to me 15 years ago.”
Rivera tried to walk back on his tweets today and issued an apology of sorts, saying that sexual harassment is a “horrendous problem long hidden. Harassers deviants who deserve what is coming to them.”
Midler continues in her Tony Award-winning role as Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! on Broadway until January 14th, when another Gay Icon, Bernadette Peters puts her spin on the role.