“THE GERALDO SHOW”

Journalist, showman and activist Geraldo Rivera joins us to reveal the man behind the mustache.

Aired on March 22, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> IN HIS NEARLY 50-YEAR CAREER, GERALDO RIVERA HAS HAD IN HIS OWN WORDS MORE UPS AND DOWNS THAN THE CYCLONE ROLLER COASTER AT CONEY ISLAND.

AT 28, THE RADICAL LAWYER-TURNED-JOURNALIST WROTE AND REPORTED AN EXPOSE OF A NOTORIOUS INSTITUTION THAT CHANGED THE WORLD FOREVER FOR FAMILIES TOUCHED BY DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES.

SOME YEARS LATER, HE OPENED AL CAPONE'S EMPTY VAULT TO A LIVE AUDIENCE OF MILLIONS, GOT HIS NOSE BROKEN ON TELEVISION'S MOST NOTORIOUS STUDIO BRAWL, DID 11 TOURS COVERING THE AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ WARS, WAS A CELEBRITY APPRENTICE, AND DANCED WITH THE STARS.

A MAN WHO HAS BEEN CALLED THE CRUSADER, A FOOL, A ROLE MODEL, A SELLOUT, A TRAIL BLAZER, AND AN OPPORTUNIST AMONG OTHER THINGS, HAS CHRONICLED HIS UNIQUE AND REMARKABLE LIFE IN HIS LATEST BOOK 'THE GERALDO SHOW: A MEMOIR.'

GERALDO RIVERA JOINS US NOW.

WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

AS I TOLD YOU, ALL THOSE WORDS I GOT FROM YOUR BOOK, SO DON'T BLAME ME.

YOU DIDN'T MENTION THAT I'M GOING TO DO A 'NAKED AND AFRAID.'

I'LL START RIGHT NOW --

NO, PLEASE, PLEASE.

LAST TIME YOU WERE ON WE SPOKE ABOUT YOUR LEGENDARY EXPOSE OF WILLOWBROOK, AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION CHANGED THE WORLD FOREVER FOR INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES TOUCHED BY DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES.

IN YOUR BOOK YOU DESCRIBE THAT EXPOSE AS YOUR PROFESSIONAL PEAK AND REST OF YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN A POSTSCRIPT.

TELL US WHY.

IT WAS SO BIG.

IT CHANGED NOT ONLY THE PEOPLE WHO WERE THE TARGETS OF THE PROBE, IT EXPOSED THE CONDITIONS, THE HORRIBLE WAREHOUSING OF DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED CHILDREN AND ADULTS AND JUST REALLY REVEALED HOW SOCIETY HAD TURNED ITS BACK ON THIS POPULATION.

HOW THEY WERE BEING CLOSETED.

HOW THEY WERE BEING WAREHOUSED.

BUT I ALSO RODE THE COATTAILS OF THAT STORM TO CELEBRITY AND THE JET-SET AND KIND OF MADE ME A HOUSEHOLD NAME.

FOR A WHILE, FOR YEARS AFTER, I MEAN, I'M STILL DEEPLY INVOLVED, WE'RE HAVING OUR SECOND GOLF TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR, MY COLLEAGUE AT FOX NEWS GAVE $10,000.

FOR THE WILLOW --

WE'VE RAISED TENS OF MILLIONS.

50 --

YOU KEEP CHANGING PEOPLE'S LIVES.

IN TERMS OF THE EMOTIONAL EXPLOSION THAT HAPPENED WHEN I DID THAT EXPOSE AND THE QUANTUM MOVEMENT IN MY LIFE, I'VE NEVER MATCHED.

I'VE NEVER MATCHED THAT.

I MEAN, AS I'VE GOTTEN -- MAYBE I'M MORE OF A HOUSEHOLD NAME NOW, MORE CONTROVERSIAL IN SOME WAYS NOW.

CERTAINLY DON'T GO BY ONE NAME --

ME AND LASSIE.

WHEN YOU TOUCHED ON THIS, YOU SAID YOU HAD A CHOICE TO MAKE AND YOU DECIDED TO BECOME WHAT YOU CALL THE FIRST ROCK AND ROLL NEWSMAN.

IN THE '70s, THAT'S WHAT I WAS.

IF YOU COULD GO BACK, IF YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY, WOULD YOU CHANGE THAT?

WOULD YOUR CHOICES BE DIFFERENT?

YOU KNOW, I'VE BEEN MARRIED FIVE TIMES.

WHEN YOU ASK ME THAT QUESTION, WHAT WOULD I CHANGE -- I SAID, I'M NOT GOING TO MESS WITH IT.

THE HOUSE OF CARDS IS STILL STANDING, I'M GOING TO LEAVE IT THAT WAY.

NOT GOING TO TEMPT FATE.

I'LL PLAY THE HAND.

WHAT EXACTLY LED TO AL CAPONE'S VAULT?

YOU KNOW, I WAS UNEMPLOYED AT THE TIME.

I HAD BEEN FIRED FROM ABC IN 1985.

I WAS FIRED AFTER 15 GREAT YEARS INCLUDING THE WILLOW BROOK EXPOSE AS.

I WAS THE HIGHEST RATED PERSON.

I GOT FIRED BECAUSE OF A BEEF I HAD WITH RUNE ARLEDGE, MY ON '20/20' I REPORTED ON THE KENNEDY FAMILY AND THE ALLEGED BOYS -- THE PRESIDENT AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S ALLEGED SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH MARILYN MONROE.

THIS WAS SYLVIA CHASE'S STORY.

RUNE SPIKED IT, I ALLEGED HE SPIKED IT, KILLED THE STORY, BECAUSE OF HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE KENNEDY FAMILY.

HE FIRED ME.

I WAS THE MOST FAMOUS UNEMPLOYED PERSON IN AMERICA.

SOMEONE SAID TO ME, YOU KNOW, WE'LL GIVE YOU $25,000 IF YOU OPEN UP THIS GANGSTER'S VAULT ON LIVE TV IN CHICAGO.

$25,000, I SAID, WELL, MY MONTHLY NUT IS 50, IF YOU GIVE ME 50, I'LL DO IT.

THAT'S WHY I DID AL CAPONE'S VAULT.

IT WAS EMPTY.

AND NOBODY ELSE COULD DO WHAT YOU DID.

RATINGS --

YOU MADE IT.

YOU MADE IT WORK SOMEHOW.

ANYWAY, THAT LED TO YOUR SYNDICATED SHOW WHICH ULTIMATELY BECAME 'THE GERALDO RIVERA SHOW.'

YOU SAY THAT PEOPLE REMEMBER THE SHOW AS SLEAZIER THAN IT WAS.

I AGREE.

YEAH.

BUT --

REAFFIRM I SHOULD SAY.

BUT IT WAS WHERE YOU HAD YOUR NOSE BROKEN IN PRESIDENT INGAME US ON SKINHEAD BRAWL -- INFAMOUS SKINHEAD BRAWL.

IT WAS IN THE BOOK THAT FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER ON TV YOU DID A DNA TEST TO FIND OUT THE PATERNITY OF THE CHILD WHILE THE NON-FATHER WAS ON THE SET.

NOT TOO SLEAZE?

YOU KNOW, I -- THAT EPISODE THAT YOU JUST DESCRIBED, IT WASN'T MEN IN LACE PANTIES, IT WASN'T SOME OF THE OTHER OUTRAGEOUS STORIES I DID.

THE STORY THAT USED DNA TO REVEAL THE TRUE PATERNITY AND THE GUY, THE NON-DAD THERE PUNCHED SET AS HE LEAVES, THANK YOU, GERALDO, HIS LIFE DESTROYED.

I COULDN'T STAY IN IT ANYMORE.

I HAD TO LEAVE.

DESPITE THE FACT IT WAS A MONEY TREE GROWING IN MY BACK YARD AND MADE ME FABULOUSLY WEALTHY.

I JUST -- I COULDN'T STAND IT ANYMORE.

I HAD TO WALK AWAY.

I DO REAFFIRM WHAT YOU SAID, IT WAS A LOT BETTER SHOWS, IT DID GRITTY STUFF.

WE WERE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, WE HAD AFTER CARE FOR PEOPLE.

ADDICTION ALLEVIATION AND COUNSELING AND GANG INTERVENTIONS.

WE DID A LOT OF GOOD, PIONEERING STUFF.

PEOPLE REMEMBER IT FOR THE BURLESQUE.

IT'S OKAY BECAUSE I GOT OUT OF THE BUSINESS, WENT RIGHT INTO NBC NEWS, BACK TO MY ROOTS AS A NEWSMAN, AND THEN 9/11 HAPPENED.

IT WAS THE HIGHEST RATED SHOW ON CNBC AND ONE OF THE HIGHEST RATED ON CABLE AT THE TIME.

AND IN IT YOU WERE THE BIGGEST ACCUSER OF O.J. DURING THE TRIAL --

MURDER --

THE BIGGEST DEFENDER OF PRESIDENT CLINTON AFTER MONICA LEWINSKY --

EVERYBODY LIES ABOUT --

WE COULD TALK ABOUT THAT SHOW BECAUSE THERE'S INTERESTING THINGS THAT HAPPENED ON THE SHOW.

YOU WERE MAKING A LOT OF MONEY AT THAT SHOW, ASIDES FROM IT BEING SUCCESSFUL.

YOU DECIDED TO LEAVE, TOOK A 60% PAY CUT TO FOX.

WHY?

YOU KNOW, I WAS BORN ON THIS ISLAND.

I LOST FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS ON 9/11.

IT WAS SUCH A STUNNING PERSONAL AFFRONTS, ASIDES FROM BEING A -- AFFRONT, ASIDE FROM BEING A NATIONAL TRAGEDY AND OUTRAGE.

I WAS KIND OF CHAINED TO MY DESK AT CNBC, 'RIVERA LIVE.'

THEY WOULDN'T LET ME COVER THE WAR.

I SAID, 'I QUIT.'

I WALKED TO FOX, ROGER AILES, WHO HAD BEEN THE PRESIDENT OF CNBC.

HE HIRED ME AGAIN AS THE WAR CORRESPONDENT.

THE SENIOR WAR CORRESPONDENT FOR FOX NEWS.

AND YOU KNOW, I SPENT MUCH OF THE NEXT 12 YEARS FROM 2001 JUST UNTIL 2013 REALLY IN AFGHANISTAN OR IN IRAQ OR IN SOMALIA.

YOU TOOK A BIG PAY CUT SO YOU COULD RISK YOUR LIFE IN WAR.

WELL, I WANTED VERY MUCH TO GET THE GUY WHO HAD DONE THAT TO MY FRIENDS.

YEAH.

AND --

VERY PERSONAL.

THE GUY WAS BIN LADEN.

BIN LADEN.

AND IN FACT, IN AFGHANISTAN YOU WERE THE FIRST AND FOR A LONG TIME THE ONLY REPORTER WHERE BIN LADEN WAS HIDING.

THAT WAS QUITE A COUP.

YOU WERE REPORTING, NOBODY ELSE --

NOBODY ELSE WAS THERE.

NEVERTHELESS, THAT COUP TURNED INTO ONE OF THE DARKEST MOMENTS OF YOUR CAREER.

HORRIBLE.

WHERE YOU WERE ACCUSED OF PRETENDING TO BE --

SOMEPLACE I WASN'T.

YEAH.

300 MILES AWAY FROM WHERE THREE AMERICANS WERE KILLED BY FRIENDLY FIRE.

WHAT HAPPENED THERE?

WELL, I JUST -- WE HAD NO FEEDBACK NEWS.

WE HEARD THAT THERE HAD BEEN THIS ATTACK.

I HAD JUST COVERED A FRIENDLY FIRE ASSAULT IN WHICH FRIENDLY TROOPS HAD BEEN KILLED BY AMERICAN BOMBS.

FRIENDLY FIRE'S THE DIRTY SECRET OF AFGHANISTAN.

WE NEVER TALK ABOUT IT.

WE BOMBED THE DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS HOSPITALS.

WE BOMBED SCHOOLS, WE BOMBED WEDDINGS.

WE MADE SOME TERRIBLE ERRORS.

I SAW A FRIENDLY FIRE AFTERMATH.

I ASSUMED BECAUSE I DIDN'T HAVE THE FACTS BECAUSE THEY NEVER RELEASED WHERE THE ATTACK HAD HAPPENED THAT WHAT I SAW WAS THE FRIENDLY FIRE THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT.

300 MILES AWAY.

AND IT'S ABSURD TO THINK I WAS LYING -- EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD KNEW I WAS IN TORA BORA.

THE ATTACK HAPPENED IN -- THE CITY ON THE WESTERN SIDE OF AFGHANISTAN --

I FORGET THE NAME.

I FORGET THE NAME.

IT WILL COME TO ME.

IT WAS ABSURD TO THINK THAT I WAS LYING ABOUT IT, BUT I COULDN'T FIGHT BACK.

TO FIGHT BACK I WOULD HAVE HAD TO FIRST OF ALL REVEAL, YOU KNOW, MORE ABOUT FRIENDLY FIRE IN THE MIDST OF THE WAR.

I WAS REALLY KIND OF --

TO THE DEGREE THAT YOU FOUGHT BACK, PEOPLE IGNORED WHAT YOU WERE SAYING.

THEY IGNORED IT.

BY THEN IT FIT THE STEREOTYPE.

FOX IS B.S., ANYTHING THEY SAY IS NOT TRUE.

SO I BECAME A VICTIM OF A BIGGER INDUSTRY-WIDE KIND OF SKEPTICISM.

YOU TOOK IT SO BADLY THAT YOU --

MUCH WORSE THAN IT WAS.

THE BOOK SAID THAT YOU CONTEMPLATED SUICIDE.

I WOULD HAVE KILLED MYSELF NOT BY PUTTING THE GUN TO MY HEAD BUT BEING AS FAR OUT INTO COMBAT.

I NEVER LET ANYBODY IN FRONT OF ME.

I DON'T CARE IF MY CREW OR, YOU KNOW, A RIVAL JOURNALIST, NOBODY WAS GOING TO BEAT ME.

I WOULD OUTRISK EVERYBODY.

THAT'S HOW I WOULD CLEANSE MY SOUL OF THIS -- OF THIS TARNISHED MARK.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

AGAIN, THE BOOK IS 'THE GERALDO SHOW: A MEMOIR.'

A GREAT READ.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANKS.

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