Geraldo Rivera Responds To Bette Midler's Tweet

Update: Geraldo Rivera sent two tweets on Friday morning in response to Bette Midler. "27 years ago I wrote a tawdry book depicting consensual events in 1973-45 years ago-I've deeply regretted its distasteful & disrespectful tone & have refrained from speaking about it-I'm embarrassed & profoundly sorry to those mentioned-I have & again apologize to anyone offended," Rivera tweeted. "Although I recall the time @BetteMidler has alluded to much differently than she, that does not change the fact that she has a right to speak out & demand an apology from me, for in the very least, publically embarrassing her all those years ago. Bette, I apologize."
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This story was originally published on November 30, 2017 at 4:20 p.m. EST.
Bette Midler has shared a 1991 video in which she made a disturbing allegation during an interview with Barbara Walters.
On Thursday, the actress and singer tweeted, "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. #MeToo." The tweet includes the video, which started making its way around the internet on Wednesday. Jezebel shared the video after Rivera tweeted a defense of Matt Lauer, which he has since attempted to clarify in a followup 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?" Rivera had originally tweeted. Rivera also added some rules he thought should be in place for sexual harassment allegations, including a time limit and external evidence.
In the 1991 interview with Walters, Midler said that Rivera and a producer groped her in a bathroom in the '70s.
"Geraldo and his producer came to do an interview with me in the '70s, the early '70s. This was when he was very, sort of hot. 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 unseemly. His behavior was unseemly," Midler says to Walters in the clip.
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Distressingly, Midler also hesitates to tell the story at first, wondering if she'll "get in trouble." And Walters' response after hearing the story is, "Let's move onto other things, shall we?"
Midler also shared the story with a Vanity Fair reporter, Kevin Sessums, in 1991. "He didn't rape me, but it was close," Sessums told Entertainment Tonight that Midler had said. At that time, the Associated Press reported that Rivera called Midler's allegations "preposterous."
Canada's Hamilton Spectator also reported that year that Rivera described the same incident with Midler as the beginning of their "affair."
"You call that little thing an affair? He's such a toad! He has the nerve. He's such a user," Midler reportedly told Sessums.
After the Walters interview first aired, articles about Midler's statements weren't entirely supportive. In an article for Newsday published shortly afterward, Marvin Kitman wrote that Midler's story "sounded a little fishy."
"Assuming that it did happen, how was she then able to go on and do the interview? And it was a lighthearted interview, at that," Kitman wrote at the time. "It was also strange that she continued to see Geraldo after the incident. A torrid sex liaison spanning a number of cities from New York to Oklahoma City and Tulsa ensued. Would you have had a relationship with anyone who did what she claimed he did?"
Kitman also points out that Rivera described their relationship in his 1991 book, Exposing Myself, which apparently includes a photo of Rivera and Midler together.
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In a Boston Herald story published the same day as the Newsday article, Margery Eagan listed Midler's words alongside the other women who appeared on ABC's competitor networks during the same time frame. That included an episode of Law & Order on NBC and interviews with women who had posed for Playboy on CBS.
"But this much is clear: one hour of typical prime time gives us two women sex-crime victims, one grop-ee on poppers, one murderess, one stockbroker/nude model, one homemaker/nude model, Barbara Walters, and a roving gang of menacing lesbians," Eagan concludes the article. "No wonder relations between the sexes are confused."
It's hard to imagine articles like these being written in 2017, but the responses do give more context to why similar allegations are only coming out now.
A rep for Midler declined to comment further.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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