Following NBC’s decision to fire Today co-anchor Matt Lauer ahead of several damning reports detailing numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against him, his colleagues and competitors reacted with disappointment, emotion, and shock. Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera, however, took it upon himself to mourn Lauer’s utterly blitzed career while defending their chosen profession as a “flirty business.” What’s more, he argued, the controversial television personality tweeted, the “current epidemic” of sexual harassment and assault allegations post-Harvey Weinstein may be “criminalizing courtship.”
Despite the immediate (and ongoing) reaction to the above tweet, Rivera continued, saying “[a] jerk’s a jerk in dating.” He also noted the definition of sexual harassment “should be confined to situations where [a] superior imposes himself on subordinate who feels unable to complain because of power of perp or feared consequences to victim’s employment.” He then went on to decry calls for morning shows being hosted by women only, and offered further suggestions for how to pursue investigating sexual misconduct allegations in the workplace.
“This issue is so red hot right now there is no room for any thought or opinion but hang em high,” Rivera lamented in his final tweet. “If News wasn’t (formerly) a flirty biz then how do we explain so many newsroom courtships that have led to happy marriages?”
Unsurprisingly, Rivera’s fellow television broadcasters, political pundits, professional journalists and Twitter trolls didn’t take kindly to his suggestions.
Aside from digging through Rivera’s more recent past (like his infamous accidental nude selfie tweet in 2013), others also brought up Bette Midler’s accusations of sexual assault in 1991. During an interview with Barbera Walters, the singer and actress claimed Rivera and his producer drugged and groped her.
UPDATE: Rivera later apologized for his tweets, saying he “didn’t sufficiently explain that this is a horrendous problem.”
Meanwhile, the Fox News Channel issued a statement regarding Rivera’s tweets and the resulting outcry. “Geraldo’s tweets do not reflect the views of FOX News or its management,” it read. “We were troubled by his comments and are addressing them with him.”