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Geraldo "Gerry" Rivera (born Gerald Riviera on July 4, 1943) is an Americanmarker attorney, journalist, writer, reporter and former talk show host. He is known to have an affinity for melodramatic, high-profile stories. Rivera hosts the newsmagazine program Geraldo at Large, and appears regularly on Fox News Channel.

Early life

Rivera was born in Manhattanmarker, New Yorkmarker, the son of Lillian (née Friedman), a waitress, and Cruz "Allen" Rivera, a restaurant worker and cab driver. Rivera's father was Puerto Rican and his mother was Jewish, and he was raised "mostly Jewish" and had a Bar Mitzvah. He grew up in Manhattanmarker and West Babylon, New Yorkmarker. His mother inspired him to become a journalist when she signed him up for a journal camp at his high school his sophomore year. He is an alumnus of University of Arizonamarker, where he played varsity lacrosse as goalie. From September 1961 to May 1963, he attended the State University of New York Maritime College, where he was a member of the rowing team. He received his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in 1969, did postgraduate work at the University of Pennsylvaniamarker that same year, and briefly attended the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalismmarker during the summer of 1970. After a brief career in law enforcement where he served the NYPD as an investigator, he returned to law and became a lawyer for a New York Puerto Rican activist group, the Young Lords and attracted the attention of news producer Al Primo when he was interviewed about the group's occupation of a Spanish Harlemmarker church in 1969. Primo offered Rivera a job as a reporter but was unhappy with the first name "Gerald" (he wanted something more identifiably Latin) so they agreed to go with the pronunciation used by the Puerto Rican side of Rivera's family: Geraldo. He is a member of Tau Delta Phi fraternity.


Early stages

Geraldo Rivera was hired by WABC-TVmarker in New York City as a reporter for Eyewitness News. In 1972, he garnered national attention and won a Peabody Award for his report on the neglect and abuse of mentally retarded patients at Staten Islandmarker's Willowbrook State Schoolmarker and began to appear on ABC national programs such as 20/20 and Nightline. After John Lennon watched Rivera's report on the patients at Willowbrook, he and Rivera formed a benefit concert called "One to One" (released in 1986 as Live in New York City.) Rivera reported Lennon's murder on Nightline on December 8, 1980. Rivera also appeared in The U.S. vs. John Lennon, a movie about Lennon and Yoko Ono's lives in New York City. It was released in 2007.

Around this time, Rivera also began hosting ABC's Good Night America. The show featured the famous refrain from Arlo Guthrie's hit "City Of New Orleans" (written by Steve Goodman) as the theme.

After Elvis Presley died in 1977, various media mistakenly reported that he had died from a heart attack. Rivera then investigated Presley's prescription drug records and concluded that he had died from multiple drug intake. His conclusion caused Tennesseemarker medical authorities to later revoke the medical license of Dr. George C. Nichopoulos, for overprescribing.

In October 1985, ABC's Roone Arledge refused to air a report done by Sylvia Chase, for 20/20 on the relationship between Marilyn Monroe and John and Robert Kennedy. Rivera publicly criticized Arledge's journalistic integrity, claiming that Arledge's friendship with the Kennedy family (for example, Pierre Salinger, a former Kennedy aide, worked for ABC News at the time) had caused him to spike the story; as a result, Rivera was fired. Sylvia Chase quit 20/20, although she returned to ABC News many years later. It has never aired.

In April 1986, Rivera hosted the syndicated special The Mystery of Al Capone's Vault, an ill-conceived adventure where Rivera excavated what he had been told was the site of Al Capone's buried treasure trove. Rivera broadcast live as the site was excavated, fully expecting to find a store of the former gangster's wealth. The show was heavily advertised, particularly on Chicagomarker's WGNmarker television station. A medical examiner was brought along for the excavation in case any dead bodies were excavated. The show was on air for several hours, displacing regularly scheduled programming, as Rivera's team penetrated the vault he was sure would yield the famed loot. Ultimately, the vault was found to contain a few broken bottles. Rivera held one of these bottles aloft for the camera and excitedly stated that it had once contained "bootleg moonshine gin".

Talk show and Satanism special

In 1987, Rivera began producing and hosting the daytime talk show Geraldo, which ran for 11 years. The show featured controversial guests and theatricality, which led to the characterization of his show as "Trash TV" by Newsweek and two United States senators. One of the early shows was titled "Men in Lace Panties and the Women Who Love Them". His nose was broken in a well-publicized brawl during a 1988 show, involving white supremacists, anti-racist skinheads, black activists, and Jewish activists.

In 1987, he hosted the first of a series of prime time special reports dealing with an alleged epidemic of Satanic ritual abuse. He stated:
"Estimates are that there are over 1 million Satanists in this country ... The majority of them are linked in a highly organized, very secretive network. From small towns to large cities, they have attracted police and FBImarker attention to their Satanic sexual child abuse, child pornography and grisly Satanic murders. The odds are that this is happening in your town."

More credible estimates are about 10,000 adult members of religious Satanic churches, temples and grottos as well as 10,000 solitary practitioners of Satanism.

Later career

In 1994, he began hosting nightly discussion of the news on CNBCmarker called Rivera Live while continuing to host Geraldo. The show was portrayed in the final episode of Seinfeld, with Rivera as himself reporting on the lengthy trial of the show's four main characters.

Later, he would take his talk show in a different direction, moving it from "Trash TV" to a more subdued, serious show, and changed its name from Geraldo to The Geraldo Rivera Show. By this time, however, the show had run its course, and was cancelled in 1998.

In 1997, Rivera contracted with NBC to work as a reporter for six years for $30 million, including hosting Rivera Live on CNBCmarker. During 1998 and 1999, he extensively covered the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he accepted a pay cut and went to work for the Fox News Channel as a war correspondent in November 2001. Rivera's brother Craig accompanied him as a cameraman on assignments in Afghanistanmarker.

In 2008, Rivera came out with a book called His Panic: Why Americans fear Hispanics in the U.S.. The title "His Panic" is a play on the word "Hispanic," and describes the anti-Hispanic racism in the United States. Rivera himself is part Hispanic, his father coming from Puerto Rico.

On September 12, 2008, during the Fox News coverage of Hurricane Ike, Rivera was knocked over by the storm surge debris while reporting live in Galveston near the 17 foot high sea wall.


War coverage controversies

Controversy arose in early 2003, while Rivera was traveling with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraqmarker. During a Fox News broadcast, Rivera began to disclose an upcoming operation, even going so far as to draw a map in the sand for his audience. The military immediately issued a firm denouncement of his actions, saying it put the operation at risk, and nearly expelled Rivera from Iraq. Two days later, he announced that he would be reporting on the Iraq conflict from Kuwaitmarker. "Confusion surrounds Rivera's expulsion from Iraq", CNN, April 1, 2003

The "map in the sand" incident inspired a 14th season episode of NBC's legal drama Law & Order, entitled "Embedded". It was also spoofed on The Daily Show, in which correspondent Stephen Colbert drew a map in the sand of where Rivera's head had gone.

Another controversy arose when he announced he was carrying a weapon while reporting in Afghanistanmarker. He said, "If they're going to get us, it's going to be in a gun fight. It's not going to be a murder. It's not going to be a crime. It's going to be a gun fight." Many were offended by the very fact that as a reporter he was carrying a weapon. The other aspect of the controversy, however, was due to the fact that he had often promoted civilian gun control prior to his time reporting in Afghanistan, such as when (after the Columbine High School massacremarker in Littleton, Coloradomarker) Rivera asked, "How much longer are we gonna take it? How much longer are we gonna be wrapping in the flag of patriotism to justify 250 million guns out there? How much longer?" As an NRAmarker magazine article pointed out, "Rivera, who has made plenty of noise in the past by promoting various anti-gun proposals, revealed recently that while covering the war in Afghanistan, where he doesn't feel quite so safe, he's conveniently jumped to the other side of the fence."

New Orleans / The New York Times controversy

In 2005. Rivera engaged in a nasty feud with The New York Times over their allegations that he pushed aside a member of a rescue team in order to be filmed "assisting" a woman in a wheelchair down some steps in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The ensuing controversy caused Rivera to appear on television and demand a retraction from the Times. He further threatened to sue the paper if one was not provided.

Other work

Virginia Tech massacre coverage

Following the Virginia Tech massacremarker in April 2007, the news media released that the shooter was an Asian male student. On the night following the massacre, during Geraldo at Large, a student tipped Rivera that on Facebook, a popular website among college students, an Asian student appeared to match the description of the shooter. He was in his mid 20s and had several pictures of himself armed with his many guns. Skeptical of the unconfirmed report, Rivera made sure to show neither the student's name nor face. But other media did report that the student involved was Wayne Chiang, who, as a result of the exposure apparently became associated temporarily with the crimes. Furthermore, Chiang's photos have appeared on CTV's news program intermixed with photographs of the actual killer, Cho Seung Hui.

Michelle Malkin "spit" controversy

On September 1, 2007, Rivera criticized Fox News Channel contributor and substitute host Michelle Malkin when he was quoted in a Boston Globe interview as saying,

"Michelle Malkin is the most vile, hateful commentator I've ever met in my life", he says.
"She actually believes that neighbors should start snitching out neighbors, and we should be deporting people.
It's good she's in D.C. and I’m in NY.
I’d spit on her if I saw her.”
Geraldo apologized publicly on The O'Reilly Factor on September 14, 2007 stating that it was "ungentlemanly" of him to say that. Malkin considered his apology "a farce", and has decided to stop appearing on The O'Reilly Factor, as she felt the show mishandled the situation.

In popular culture

In the film UHF, he is parodied by "Weird Al" Yankovic by Yankovic playing the character of George Newman. Newman, in addition to being the president of the UHF network, has a tabloid talk show called "Town Talk with George Newman".

A humorous promo starts with Newman asking guests, "Sex with furniture, what do you think?” Newman is then shown opening "Al Capone's glove compartment” and exclaiming, "Aha! Road maps!” Finally, the fake commercial ends with a full scale brawl in the studio. Newman first gets knocked out cold with a chair and then the brawl really starts. The guests: a Klansman, a man in a Jason-style hockey mask with an axe, a freaky smiling teen girl, and others, break out in a fight on stage. The audience, armed to the teeth with nooses, torches and other weapons, join in. The last frame has a close-up of a bandaged Newman hyping an upcoming show, "Lesbian Nazi hookers abducted by UFOs and forced into weight loss programs, all this week, on Town Talk."

Rivera had a small, uncredited part in the 1990 film The Bonfire of the Vanities as a television reporter named "Robert Corso". He also has a short cameo on the series finale of Seinfeld with his former news colleague, Jane Wells. He was also the inspiration for the character Wayne Gale (portrayed by Robert Downey Jr.) in Oliver Stone's 1994 film Natural Born Killers; in fact, much of the character's interaction with the murderers Mickey and Mallory Knox was inspired heavily from Rivera's interview with Charles Manson. A Rivera parody, "Hector Ramirez", was a recurring character in several Sunbow-produced cartoons based on Hasbro properties of the 1980s, including Transformers, GIJoe, and Jem.

Rivera is lampooned in the South Park episode A Million Little Fibers, in which he investigates allegations, revealed to him by Oprah Winfrey's private parts, that Steven McTowelie, author of a Million Little Fibers, is actually a towel.

Kurt Vonnegut mentions Rivera several times in various novels, including Palm Sunday and Fates Worse than Death, never in a favorable light. Rivera was married to Vonnegut's daughter Edith. They divorced in 1974.

Stephen Colbert has frequently lampooned Rivera on The Colbert Report, especially calling attention to his mustache. He has explained in interviews that Rivera was one of the inspirations for the "man with a mission" facet of Colbert's right-wing pundit character. "That's the heart of [Rivera's] persona: that he really is changing the world with every interview he does — just slowly, syllable by syllable, he is changing the great ship of human destiny with his will toward justice." Colbert's character, in turn, "thinks, 'We're gonna bust things wide open with this report,' when in fact he never has an idea of what he's talking about." Rivera has since appeared on the show.

Rivera appeared in a Dilbert strip surrounding Dogbert's cult of personality. Rivera hypes the show, only for Dogbert to feign confusion over what Rivera is talking about. Rivera then looks embarrassed into the camera, while Dogbert ads "I love live television" (in reality, Geraldo was always taped).

The One Life To Live character Markko Rivera was born under the name "Geraldo Rivera," but changed it to Markko because he hated having the same name as the reporter.

"...and the women who love them" has become a catchphrase that is often used as an ironic description of scandalous, usually domestic drama that frequently injects elements of sexuality and deviant behavior.

Geraldo Rivera has also been spoofed several times on Saturday Night Live.

See also


  1. Urban Legends Reference Pages: Geraldo Rivera and Jerry Rivers
  2. Geraldo Rivera Biography (1943-)
  3. Ancestry of Geraldo Rivera
  4. Geraldo Rivera for Israeli Knesset?
  5. Do the Jews Need Geraldo -
  6. - Sailing Book (continues)
  7. Fort Schuyler Maritime Alumni Association
  8. Rivera, Geraldo
  9. * Urban Legend about Geraldo Rivera's name being changed from Jerry Rivers
  10. See also List of Peabody Award winners #1972
  11. Geraldo Rivera'S Influence On The Satanic Ritual Abuse And Recovered Memory Hoaxes
  14. A NATION AT WAR: COVERAGE; Pentagon Says Geraldo Rivera Will Be Removed From Iraq - New York Times
  15. "NRA Targets Geraldo Rivera", AIM, March 5, 2002
  16. Geraldo Rivera might sue The New York Times - TV Squad
  17. YouTube - CTV believes Asians ALL LOOK SAME
  18. Michelle Malkin » Geraldo Rivera unhinged
  19. Making waves - The Boston Globe
  21. Michelle Malkin » Stiiiiill going

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