When I first saw Geraldo Rivera on Fox News Channel after I finally ventured from CNN back in 2004, the image of Geraldo from like the 80's and 90's stuck with me --- and I wasn't surpirsed the FNC would hire a "sensationalist" like Geraldo if they paraded Juliet Huddy out every weekend and let her perform her antics as a co-host on Fox & Friends Weekend.
Yet, again, it's now 2008 and aside from seeing Geraldo on Fox News Channel, I've learned a few things about Geraldo which have changed my perception about him.
There are two things in particular that made me say, "wow, Geraldo?!" --- which I will share later --- for now, here's "The Mustachioed Muckraker of TV NEWS" ---
"When you were young and your heart was an open book You used to say live and let live (you know you did, you know you did you know you did) But in this ever changing world in which we live in Makes you give in and cry Say live and let die Live and let die Live and let die Live and let die --- What does it matter to ya When you got a job to do You gotta do it well You gotta give the other fellow hell"
- NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff once said of him: "There are two words that serve as a signal that you're operating in an area of questionable taste. Those words are 'Geraldo Rivera.'"
- In 1987 he began hosting a talk show, Geraldo, which set the trends toward controversial guests and theatricality (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 that occurred on his 1988 show featuring Nazi skinheads and black activists, which sparked Newsweek's characterization of his show as "Trash TV".
- He was noted for self-promotion and for inserting himself into stories: he had plastic surgery on his program (twice), and his autobiography Exposing Myself caused headlines in 1991 by discussing his sexual dalliances, which included encounters with Bette Midler and Margaret Trudeau. He was also temporarily the son-in-law of science fiction writer, Kurt Vonnegut.
- In 1997 he contracted with NBC to work as a reporter for 6 years for a fee of 30 million U.S. dollars. Following the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack, he accepted a pay cut and went to work for the Fox News Channel as a war correspondent starting in November 2001.
- During the U.S./Afghanistan war in 2001, he was derided for falsely claiming to be reporting from the scene of a friendly fire incident which in actuality had occurred 50 miles away. He claims the discrepancy resulted from a misunderstanding.
- The 1980s GI Joe animated series created the news anchor man character Hector Ramirez as a parody of Rivera.
- Geraldo is mentioned in the episode of Two and a Half Men entitled Corey's Been Dead For An Hour. The presenter takes home both Charlie and Alan's dates after the brothers spend half an hour arguing in the bathroom. The waiter quips that the two girls will now find out how "At Large" Geraldo really is.
- Geraldo has a short cameo on the series finale of Seinfeld with his former news colleague, Jane Wells. He appeared as himself on his actual show at the time, Rivera Live, holding coverage of the jury trial Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer had. He was also an inspiration for the opportunistic, narcissistic 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 murders Mickey and Mallory Knox was inspired heavily from Rivera's interview with Charles Manson. In Carl Hiaasen's 1989 book, "Skin Tight," there is a narcissistic T.V. reporter by the name of "Reynaldo Flemm," who is almost certainly modeled after Geraldo Rivera. The character meets a gruesome end while being liposuctioned by a quack plastic surgeon.
- The town of West Babylon has awarded Geraldo with the Key to the City and officially named September 20th as "Geraldo Rivera Day".
--- My perception changed by being blown away ...
1). seeing him do a few exclusive, rare interviews with John Lennon - namely sitting and walking and talking on the beach with him
2). seeing him in the full length film The U.S. vs. John Lennon
3). seeing Geraldo in a documentary about the legendary Baseball All Star & Humanitarian, Roberto Clemente of Puerto Rico
--- (This is significant to me as when I was just a baby Roberto Clemete held me inisde Three River's Allgheny Club and, then, as my father kept telling me the story every few years I learned what a great human be-ing Roberto Clemente lives on as ...) ---
On December 23, 1972, a massive earthquake devastated the Nicaraguan capital of Managua. 7,000 people died and thousands of others were injured. More than 250,000 people were suddenly homeless.
Roberto lost many friends in the quake. He had spent most of November in Nicaragua managing a Puerto Rican all-star team in the Amateur Baseball World Series tournament. He felt the threat to his many colleagues, thousands of fans and friends.
Clemente accepted the honorary chairmanship of an earthquake relief committee and used local media to appeal for help. He worked day and night, even soliciting donations door to door. The relief team raised $150,000, and gathered and shipped nearly 26 tons of food, clothing and medicine by air and sea. Then came reports from Managua—the corrupt regime of General Anastasio Somoza was intercepting the deliveries.
Roberto wanted to make sure the food and medicine got to the people who needed it. On New Year’s Eve, he helped load an aging DC-7, then boarded the flight.
"When your time comes, it comes; if you are going to die, you will die,' Vera remembered him saying. "And babies are dying. They need these supplies."
One of the DC-7’s engines exploded almost immediately after take-off. There were two more explosions, then a fourth.
"He liked Nicaragua because it looked like the old days in Puerto Rico when we didn’t have so much progress. He said the people on the farms still used animals, and it reminded him of when he was a little boy. And when we traveled through the country he liked to visit with the people and learn more about the way they lived. The common people, he just liked to talk with them." —Vera Clemente
As a professional baseball player, Clemente ranks among the best of all time. He was, in baseball parlance, a “complete player” and his record proves it in multiples. In addition to the Most Valuable Player Award, Clemente received 12 Gold Glove Awards, 4 National League batting titles, 12 All-Star Game selections, 2 World Series Championships, and reached the 3,000-hit milestone. Only ten players in the history of the major leagues recorded 3,000 hits before Roberto. The highlight of his long and prosperous career came in 1971, when he earned the World Series MVP Award for his superb performance in the Fall Classic against the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles. Clemente batted .414, hit two home runs, and turned in several standout defensive plays to carry the Pirates to one of the most surprising results in World Series history. With a massive television audience witnessing the seven games of this historic Series, Clemente gained the kind of nationwide recognition that had eluded him throughout his career.
But there’s another Clemente record. It is written in cornerstones of schools, hospitals, and other public buildings, inscribed on monuments and statues, struck on coins, imprinted on collectibles and book covers — it is simply his name, Roberto Clemente, and it is evidence of his impact beyond baseball.
Citizen and Athlete
Clemente became known for his fierce ethnic pride and for his unusual capacity to bear a much larger identity—not just for Puerto Rico but for all of Latin America. It was a responsibility he embraced and carried with dignity and admirable grace.
He didn’t see himself as merely a representative of Latin America to the world through baseball. He saw his career in baseball as a way to help Latin Americans — especially underprivileged Puerto Ricans — make their lives better.
"Always, they said Babe Ruth was the best there was. They said you’d really have to be something to be like Babe Ruth. But Babe Ruth was an American player. What we needed was a Puerto Rican player they could say that about, someone to look up to and try to equal."-Roberto ClementeNational League Most Valuable Player, 1966
Best of the Roses, Giovanni French