Bette Midler joined the #MeToo campaign with disturbing allegations against Fox News reporter Geraldo Rivera, who only a day ago defended disgraced NBC “Today” host Matt Lauer by calling journalism a “flirty business.”
Although the incident involving Rivera occurred in the 1970s, Middler produced a video of a 1991 Barbara Walters interview that confirmed her account.
Rivera has been a staunch defender of President Donald Trump during his Fox News appearances, sometimes to the point of absurdity.
But his defense of Lauer, who was fired for sexual misconduct, went over the top.
“If News wasn’t (formerly) a flirty biz then how do we explain so many newsroom courtships that have led to happy marriages?” he Tweeted.
The backlash was almost immediate. Even Fox News pushed back.
“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,” it said.
Fox News has been rocked by complaints about sexual harassment and sex assault involving some of its biggest on-air names.
Fox New chief Roger Ailes, conservative talking head Bill O’Reilly and newscaster Eric Bolling have all been forced out following allegations of gross sexual misconduct.
Rivera’s remarks prompted Midler to speak out.
“Tomorrow is my birthday. I feel like this video was a gift from the universe to me. Geraldo may have apologized for his tweets supporting Matt Lauer, but he has yet to apologize for this,” she wrote on Twitter, adding the “#MeToo” hashtag.
During the 1991 interview, Walters urged Midler to open up about the incident.
“No I better not,” Midler said initially. “I’m going to get in trouble. It was very unpleasant.”
“Get in a little trouble,” Walters urged.
“Ok, I’ll get in a little trouble,” Midler replied.
“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.”
“Grope?” said Walters, expressing shock.
“Groped me,” Midler said. “I did not offer myself up on the altar of Geraldo Rivera. He was … he was unseemly.”
In his 1991 book, “Exposing Myself,” Rivera seems to confirm the incident.
“We were in the bathroom, preparing for the interview, and at some point I put my hands on her breasts,” he wrote.
Rivera apologized for his Tweet and offered a left-handed apology to Midler over the incident, claiming he remembered it differently.
“That does not change the fact that she has a right to speak out & demand an apology from me, for in the very least, publicly embarrassing her all those years ago,” he Tweeted.
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