Last Updated on October 28, 2021
Fox News liberal personality Geraldo Rivera admitted in his 1991 memoir Exposing Myself that he got his first job in journalism, created his iconic moustache, and even gave himself the Spanish-sounding first name “Geraldo” because he identified himself as “a Puerto Rican first and a Jew second,” after previously calling himself by his real name “Gerald.”
Geraldo was inspired to do this by his relationship with a Puerto Rican racial activist woman, whom he badgered for sex despite her virginity. Geraldo writes that “Carmen caused far more than blue balls. She helped sharpen my sense of self as an Hispanic man proud of his heritage.” This adopted persona led to Geraldo getting his first job in journalism with an ABC News affiliate that was specifically trying to fill a Puerto Rican racial diversity position. Geraldo Rivera has strongly advocated for Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of Robert Maxwell, to be granted bail as she sits in jail accused of child sex trafficking.
In the book, Geraldo admits that in the 1960’s he “cast my lot with “The Movement,” the radical/liberal political and ideological alliance that was sweeping together the old left, minority activists, and their allies — half the white population under thirty.”
Rivera then describes how “This brown consciousness had been building since my return to New York, but had suffered a temporary setback following Israel’s smashing victory the year before in the Six Day War. Stoked by my coreligionists’ triumph, I had a Star of David tattooed on my left hand.” But then Rivera conspired with the boss of a local ABC News affiliate named Al Primo.
Al Primo was “checking me out like a merchant appraising goods,” according to Geraldo. Geraldo said of Al Primo, “After all, he was going to some trouble to hire a Puerto Rican reporter; surely, he wanted to at least get his money’s worth.” With no experience, Geraldo Rivera then began his broadcasting career. Later in the book, Geraldo describes how “I met most of my ladies at work,” and his numerous sexual affairs including with the mother of current Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.
This book represents the defining historical document of Geraldo Rivera’s generation in Television News. From Geraldo’s varied experiences as a Jewish agitator-turned-Puerto Rican token hire, Geraldo Rivera tells the story of the American experience since the 1960’s.
This book, Exposing Myself, will give you unprecedented insight into the generation that produced Geraldo Rivera, and the generation that people like Geraldo Rivera produced. Enjoy!
Anarchy in the Air
“She transformed herself from a fabulous, exotic example of Latin culture into an imitation of a white woman, and I already had plenty of those. My new Puerto Rican pride returned with me for my third and final year at Brooklyn Law. I had a hard time concentrating on my studies; I was distracted by the front page. In the fall of 1968, the world was spinning out of control; the assassination of Bobby Kennedy hit me especially hard. I also felt a flash of guilt, because I had been supporting RFK’s opponent Eugene McCarthy in his long-shot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Coming just months after the Memphis murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. — the death of this Kennedy was the final straw, and convinced me to cast my lot with “The Movement,” the radical/liberal political and ideological alliance that was sweeping together the old left, minority activists, and their allies — half the white population under thirty,” Geraldo Rivera wrote in his 1991 memoir Exposing Myself.
“Anarchy, upheaval, and fundamental change seemed inevitable. Draft resistance was escalating faster than the war itself. Bombings and inner-city riots were becoming nightly fixtures on the evening newscasts. Richard Nixon appeared the likely next president of a fractured nation, while his running-mate Spiro Agnew vowed to limit civil dissent. The established political and economic order was everywhere in retreat.”
“By early 1969, anger was the preeminent force in the land. Rioting near Berkeley had just been dispersed by tear gas and shotguns. A Jersey City police station was sprayed with machine-gun fire. East Seventh Street veterans viewed love-ins and flower children as quaint, naive indulgences for well-to-do children. The Black Panthers were the new ideal: militant, impatient, and in-your-face. Twenty-one of them were indicted that spring for planning to blow up Macy’s. I did not quite grasp the connection between the world’s largest department store and the oppression of black people, but I took it on faith that the two things were related. As I coasted through my last year of law school, I became firm in my decision to become a lawyer of and for the people. Watching lawyers like William Kunsler and his young protégé Gerald Lefcourt reinforced the convictions born in the district attorney’s office, and cemented at Harlem Assertion of Rights. Like Kunstler, I would use the law as my instrument to bring about fundamental social change; unlike anyone else, I would ross my Latin passion into the mix. Of course, I was still unsure exactly how to go about doing this. The practice had yet to supplant the theory. Fate answered my uncertainty in the form of two University of Pennsylvania Law School recruiters. The school administered The Reginal Heber Smith Fellowship in Poverty Law, a federally funded program designed to train and sponsor property lawyers to advocate for the poor. The recruiters, a Penn Law School professor and an aide, came to Brooklyn in search of minority attorneys willing to work in our indigent communities for a ten-thousand-dollar annual stipend, the poor leading the poor. They looked to me, and I looked back. Both sides liked what they saw — I was graduating nineteenth out of 330 students in my law school class; they were offering a ground-level chance to serve my people — with some reservations. “Are you sure you’re brown?,” the aide asked timidly at the conclusion of our interview.
“What the hell kind of question is that?” I shot back, openly outraged at this putz and silently fuming that I wasn’t brown enough to let my skin answer for me.
“It’s just, you know, your name,” the putz fumbled. “Riviera.” He spelled it out for me, in cast I might be hearing it for the first time. “Riviera,” he said again. “What kind of name is that?”
“I’m Puerto Rican,” I said proudly, defiantly. “My real name is Rivera. Riviera was my slave name.”
“The night after our graduation, Joey threw a party for himself, Danny, and me. It would be the last time our misfit trio partied together. It was a generally depressing occasion. The party was held in the dimly lit second-floor room of an Irish pub on the Upper West Side. The room was filled with old people — Irish cops, mostly — and smelled of stale beer. I remember thinking I did not belong in that room, on that night, with these people. I no longer fit. I had been offered, and accepted, Penn’s Smith Fellowship, and in my head I was already the brown brother from another planet, eager to remake the world according to my ideals. Danny and I would remain close — indeed, our lives and careers would dovetail with the years — but I distanced myself from my police captain friend on that night. Joey Allen was under poverty organization sponsored by the local Democratic club.”
“Our office was in a converted, storefront church on 116th Street and Eighth Avenue, surrounded by endless rows of the city’s worst housing for its poorest citizens. From the heavily barred front picture-window, I looked out on a grim landscape devoid of good news. The neighborhood was terrifying; the work was exhilarating. I gained confidence with every apartment saved, or kid snatched from trouble. The pay wasn’t enough to buy pizza, but I discovered the heady air around the moral highground. My crusader’s heat made me the match of any landlord, judge, cop, or jury. I found my niche. Rivera for the defense. Rivera for the people. It sounded good, and it made me feel good.
Despite my saintly professional calling, I moved through women with ravenous delight. Romantically, this was a slopy time for me — find ’em, fuck ’em, forget ’em — but I computed my divine balance sheet against my daytime heroics and still came out ahead. There was one woman from this period who stands out. Her name was Carmen, a young lawyer from Puerto Rico. She had been assigned to New York by the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity, to compensate for the lack of homegrown Hispanic lawyers available to serve the city’s Spanish-speaking poor.
Carmen looked like a Goya painting — red lips, dark eyes, and tango dresses. She wanted to marry me almost as soon as we met. She insisted on meeting my parents immediately and she charmed my father to his Latin core. She was delightful, smart, and good-looking. And — this part threw me — she was a virgin. Carmen was saving it for her husband. This presented a problem. At first, she stopped my heavier advances. When she sensed I was cool to the idea of marriage, she threw herself dramatically across my black bed and said, “Take me anyway.”
In a rare act of romantic integrity, I passed on the loaded offer. Although our relationship was never consummated, my affair with Carmen caused far more than blue balls. She helped sharpen my sense of self as an Hispanic man proud of his heritage. At her urging, I joined New York’s Puerto Rican Bar Association (there were only ninety members at that time), and became much more visible at Hispanic political events. This brown consciousness had been building since my return to New York, but had suffered a temporary setback following Israel’s smashing victory the year before in the Six Day War. Stoked by my coreligionists’ triumph, I had a Star of David tattooed on my left hand, at the webbing of flesh where the thumb meets the index finger. It is still there. (The tattoo, elected in haste, would later cause near-deadly embarrassment when I covered the Middle East for ABC News). Carmen never acknowledged my ethnic ambiguities. She called me Geraldo. Gerry did not exist for her, and her influence began to make Gerry more obsolete. “The world is changing,” she would tell me. “It is time to step up and be a leader of our emerging race.” She really talked like that — our emerging race! — and I loved to hear it. Under her influence, I decided that I was a Puerto Rican first and a Jew second. It was the first time I had prioritized my identities in just this way, and the thinking has held. Being a Jew was a fine thing. I resolved, like belonging to a cherished club or secret society. But the Jewish people were strong and prosperous enough to survive without me. My tattoo and my circumcised dick would always mark me, but after Carmen, I would present myself as a Puerto Rican who, if asked, happened curiously to be also Jewish. The Puerto Rican people, my people, needed me.”
A Dangerous Puerto Rican moustache
“I remember the Sunday morning in 1968 when I decided to grow my moustache. I was thumbing through a box of old photographs and came upon a 1945 shot of my handsome dad in his army uniform. I had never focused before on the pencil-thin moustache he wore in those days, before he bent to assimilation, and shaved it off. He looked dashing, and exotically foreign. I inspected the stubble on my own face and determined there was enough potential, if properly cultivated, to cover most of my upper lip,” Geraldo Rivera wrote in his 1991 memoir Exposing Myself.
“That moustache has stayed with me, in one form or another, ever since, and has become both a professional trademark and a personal symbol of my ethnic rebirth. The condition that we marry is what killed off the relationship with Carmen, but there was something else that contributed downward momentum. It was ironic in someone so fiercely proud of her heritage, but the longer Carmen stayed in New York, the more North Americanized she became, all blue-jeans and Blooming-”
“television reporters who had interviewed me during the occupation of the church, called to tell me that WABC-TV was interested in talking to me about a job. “Doing what?” I wondered. “Being a reporter,” Gloria said. “The only reporters I know are Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen,” I said. (This was essentially true.) “You could learn,” she tried. “Just think about it. If you’re not interested, maybe you’d know some other P.R. who would be.”
Within a week, I had an appointment with Al Primo, news director for WABC-TV, Channel 7, the ABC Television Network’s flagship local station. He was looking for a Puerto Rican to complement his already ethnically diverse on-air team. Aside from Gloria, who worked for the rival CBS affiliate, New York’s million-plus Latino community was not represented on any of the major local news programs. Apparently, Al Primo was out to change that. He caught me mouthpiecing on the air for the Young Lords and thought he saw the makings of a newsman, and so he asked Gloria for an introduction. He was seated behind his desk when I entered his windowless office, a dimly lit oasis of quiet on the edge of the bright and noisy newsroom. “Hi,” he said, rising to shake my hand. “I’m Al Primo.” “I’m Gerry Rivera,” I shook back.
“You’re taller than you looked on TV,” he said, checking me out like a merchant appraising goods. “And you just think we’re all under five-five,” I retorted, trying to sound tough, confident, and friendly, all at once. We both laughed. I relaxed and listened to his pitch. He told me how television would help me to help my people, in ways bigger and better than I could have ever imagined. He told me not to worry that I did not know the first thing about the television news business; the station would send me to a crash course in broadcast journalism at Columbia University. I wondered, out loud, why I should leave the legal profession after I had worked so long and hard to get through law school. He asked how much money I was making.
“About two hundred a week,” I replied.
“I’ll give you three hundred a week to start, and I’ll raise it fifty a year for the next five. Deal. “By the way, he said, shaking our new relationship, “what’s Gerry short for?”
“Gerald?,” he tried. “It’s not very Puerto Rican, is it?”
“No, I said, I guess not, but it’s better than Sidney.”
“That’s what my Jewish mother wanted to call me.”
He laughed politely at the exchange, but his smile seemed forced. I sensed he was disappointed. After all, he was going to some trouble to hire a Puerto Rican reporter; surely, he wanted to at least get his money’s worth.
“If you want something more Latin,” I suggested, “my father and his side of the family call me Geraldo.”
“Geraldo?” he said, and this time his smile was genuine. “Geraldo Rivera.” He tested the sound, rolling the R’s and learning what millions were about to, that the G in Spanish is pronounced H. “That’s better,” he said finally. “Let’s go with Geraldo.”
Geraldo Rivera confessed in his own memoir to engaging in rampant workplace sex, and actress Bette Midler has accused Rivera of groping her. These massive revelations about Rivera’s personal conduct raise questions about Fox News management. Does Fox News’ parent company, which has Joe Biden’s former chief of staff as its government relations official in Washington, D.C., feel that Rivera’s liberal establishment politics compensate for his own admitted degenerate behavior?
Here is the passage from Geraldo Rivera’s 1991 autobiography Exposing Myself in which Rivera describes his tryst with the married wife of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who also happens to be the mother of current Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau:
Here is Geraldo smiling with Fidel Castro, from his 1991 book. How do you think Cuban-American viewers of Fox News might feel about this?
A young woman reportedly consented to fornication with Geraldo and his roommates, who took turns fornicating with her, with Rivera admitting that “Today, I would be filled with rescue fantasies for this creature: then, all I wanted to do was outperform my roommates. I announced I would be first up, leading the girl into my bedroom and silently marveling at the good fortune that had smiled on our home. Later that evening, when my turn came up again, I took some time to talk with her. Pat. I think her name was Pat. She was a little on the slim side. Something about her reminded me of the daughter who loses her baby near the end of The Grapes of Wrath… It was demeaning, degrading, and dishonorable, and I was in the middle of it. Any man of conscience would have tried to talk some sense into this girl, but not me, not then… A stiff dick has no conscience.”
Rivera also states, referring to workplace sex, (p. 195) that “I discovered the room on an impulse born of necessity. I had two cute and smart young women working for me at the time, college coeds from out of town who were infatuated with the television news business and their proximity to the local star of the day. They were attractive and dedicated, and after a (short) time the infatuation became mutual. On one unusually slow news day, things heated up to where all indications suggested an urgent need for privacy. We found it, in the boiler room, and from that day forward the three of us would regularly disappear there. All we had in the way of furniture was a chair which made our entanglements daunting and creative, but we were always up to the challenge.”
“I met most of my young ladies at work,” Rivera wrote on page 47. He adds, “Despite my saintly professional calling, I moved through women with ravenous delight. Romantically, this was a sloppy time for me – find ’em, fuck ’em, forget ’em – but I computed my divine balance sheet against my daytime heroics and still came out again.”
On page 46, Rivera describes taking a woman to get an abortion in 1968, relying on his connections to the mafia to find someone who would illegally abort the child. “Sally wanted to move on and keep flying, and I wanted nothing to do with a wife and child; abortion was the only alternative. Trouble was, in 1968, it was also illegal. Pal Joey stepped in to bail me out. He arranged for us to use an abortionist favored by his mob cronies, a gypsy from the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. He helped me pay for it. There was no way I could afford the three-hundred-dollar fee on my own … ‘We just aborted your son,’ Sally told me on the long, quiet subway ride back to Manhattan.”
Actress Bette Midler, responding many years ago to Geraldo Rivera’s autobiography, alleged that Rivera and his producer in the 1970’s “pushed me into my bathroom, they broke two poppers and pushed them under my nose and proceeded to grope me.”
“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 [sic] embarrassing her all those years ago,” Rivera wrote on Twitter. “Bette, I apologize.”
Hearing crazy talk on cable TV right now about folks having the constitutional right not to get vaccinated.
Yes (they may be dopey) but they do have that right.
We too have rights: to deny the unvaccinated access to our home, school or business.
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) July 19, 2021