Geraldo Rivera, accused of sexual assault, has a history of downplaying sexual misconduct

A recently resurfaced 1991 interview between Barbara Walters and actress Bette Midler included Midler's revelation that Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera reportedly sexually assaulted her at one point in the 1970s. This episode, for which Midler says Rivera has never apologized, typifies the disgraceful way the long-time Fox star has dealt with sexual harassment and assault throughout his career.

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Rivera routinely defends the men reported for sexual harassment and assault

In response to allegations against NBC’s Matt Lauer, Rivera suggested that the “current epidemic of #SexHarassmentAllegations may be criminalizing courtship & conflating it w predation.” He added “news is a flirty business.”

[The New York Times, 11/29/17; Twitter, 11/29/17]

Rivera then laid out what he thought should be requirements that victims of sexual harassment and abuse need to meet to be taken credibly.

[Twitter, 11/29/17]

He later apologized for both tweets.

[Twitter, 11/29/17]

Rivera previously defended disgraced former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly against numerous sexual harassment allegations by using the same “news is a flirty business” line.

Geraldo Rivera is defending Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and predicts he’ll keep his job amid reports that a group of women were paid $13 million to settle sexual harassment allegations.

‘The news is a flirty business,’ Rivera said during an appearance on WOR’s “‘Len Berman and Todd Schnitt in the Morning.” [The New York Times, 4/1/17; iHeartRadio, 4/7/17]

Rivera also responded to allegations against Fox Business host Charles Payne in the same manner.

[The New York Times, 7/6/17; Twitter, 7/7/17, 7/7/17]

Rivera welcomed Payne back to the network after that latter’s temporary suspension by tweeting that Payne was “victimized by a bogus charge motivated by [money],” adding that it was a “witchhunt.”

[The New York Times, 9/18/17; Twitter, 9/19/17]

Rivera suggested Dennis Hastert, who was convicted of crimes related to the cover-up of child molestation, “wasn’t [the] perp-He was [the] victim.” (Hastert later admitted “he sexually abused several boys” during the 1960s and 1970s.)

[The Washington Post, 5/29/15; Chicago Tribune, 4/28/16; Twitter, 5/29/15]

Rivera smeared some of the women who reported their own stories of abuse at the hands of Harvey Weinstein as lacking “courage.”

GERALDO RIVERA: All I'm going to say is that the demonstrators came to Fox because they hated what was going on here. There will be no demonstrators in front of NBC. And The New Yorker, which is being applauded for running the Ronan Farrow piece, The New Yorker only ran that after The New York Times had already killed Weinstein. And all of the so-called courage of the people coming forward now? It takes no courage once the perpetrator is dead. [Media Matters, 10/12/17

When asked by a co-host if he was making excuses for harassment claims involving senior citizens, Rivera responded “Well, maybe I was speaking, you know, as a senior citizen myself.”

During a panel discussion on the sexual harassment allegations popping up on both sides of the political aisle, Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle couldn’t help but call out Geraldo Rivera on his own excusal of sexual misconduct.

Rivera mentioned the allegations facing Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), that he grabbed the buttocks of a woman while taking a photo of her.

“What about the allegation that’s gaining quite a bit of legitimacy and currency that George H.W. Bush — Bush 41 — from his wheelchair, tells a joke when women stand along side him, ‘Who’s your favorite comedian? Mine is David Cop-a-feel,'” Rivera recalled. “You know, and he pats the ladies on the butt. I mean, if it’s outrageous for Franken it’s outrageous for George H.W. Bush and you talk about senior citizens, he’s, uh, what, 93-years-old.”

Guilfoyle quickly cut in wondering then why Rivera was making excuses for the elder Bush.

“You were the one who was making some kind of exception for those that are elderly or infirm, that after a certain age they get some kind of ‘get out of sexual harassment jail free’ card,” she said.

Rivera laughed uncomfortably.

“Well, maybe I was speaking, you know, as a senior citizen myself,” he replied. [RawStory, 11/24/17]

Rivera dismissed former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros’ accusations of sexual harassment against Roger Ailes as a “vindictive screed designed to damage reputations.”

[Media Matters, 8/23/16; Twitter, 8/23/16]

In response to a sexual harassment suit filed against Roger Ailes by former Fox host Gretchen Carlson, Rivera said Ailes was “about as flirty as the grizzly in #The Revenant,” adding “I stand with Roger Ailes.”

[The New York Times, 7/6/16; Twitter, 7/12/16]

Rivera: “Don't believe the crap about #RogerAiles. Only ones talking dirt are those who hate #FoxNews & want to hurt network that's kicking their ass.”

[Twitter, 7/19/16]

Rivera later said he was “filled with regret for stubbornly discounting [the] various allegations” of sexual misconduct against Ailes. [HuffPost, 9/9/16

Rivera has also repeatedly minimized and attempted to discredit women’s stories of sexual abuse

In 2011, during an appearance on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, Rivera outrageously claimed that immigrant women are using rape allegations as a “new immigration racket” to stay in the country.

GERALDO RIVERA: Let me tell you a very quick story, Gregg [Jarrett]. I got a buddy, lives in the West Coast, he had a bride from overseas who was an immigrant here, without documentation, suddenly, she alleges that my buddy was guilty of some kind of physical abuse. Turns out, that if you say, if you're an immigrant here, if you're a female and you claim an allegation of sex abuse, you can't be deported until the case is litigated.

It turns out that this is the new immigration racket -- that there are women who, you know, say they were raped or say they were abused by their American husbands; they then stay here despite their immigration status until the case is resolved. Oft-times they have settlements with these hapless men, they get their houses.

I think that this is a classic case. This domestic employee there, at the hotel, she sought asylum claiming a rape charge, typical of the scenario, this immigration scam that they pull. [Media Matters, 7/1/11]

Rivera cast doubt on a Bill Cosby accuser’s story of abuse.

[Twitter, 6/6/17]

Rivera bemoaned that, in the aftermath of Harvey Weinstein’s downfall, women might be believed when reporting harassment against powerful men.

[Twitter, 10/10/17]

In response to the recent “cascading allegations of harassment,” Rivera argued that “if everyone is a sexharasser then none are.”

[Twitter, 11/22/17]

Rivera’s sexual misconduct was reported in 1991

Bette Midler: “Geraldo and his producer came to do an interview with me, in the '70s, the early '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.”

[Twitter, 11/30/17,, 11/30/17]

Midler: “Geraldo may have apologized for his tweets supporting Matt Lauer, but he has yet to apologize for this. #MeToo”

[Twitter, 11/30/17]

Midler called Rivera “grotesque” and a “slime ball” after his 1992 memoir bragged he had sex with her and 1,000 other women.

In 1992, Midler tore into Rivera after she read how she was depicted in his autobiography, calling the journalist “grotesque” and a “slime ball.” Asked about the affair on CNN in 2011, Midler said simply, “ew.” [Mediaite, 2/20/14

Rivera reminisced about how easy it was for him to find sex before human resources came along.

“It was almost like sex was free! You have no HR – no human resources – no workplace rules against it, lots of money, relative youthfulness, a young staff, surrounded by sycophants and enablers, people smoking joints openly in their office...” [Jezebel, 3/20/14]