Geraldo Rivera: The Defender of the President


We've now had six weeks of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Yesterday, a second woman stated under oath that she had been harrassed or assaulted by Clinton. Her name is Kathleen Willey. You'll have to forgive me if I misspelled her name. The press has been so careful to avoid any mention of her that I'm not sure how to pronounce or spell it. Yesterday's big story was David Brock's apology for reporting the truth about his findings in Little Rock

Televison news has followed the White House line so completely that most people simply don't know what the accusations against Clinton are. For weeks, television news has been obsessed with questioning Kenneth Starr's tactics and motives. Even more sycophantically obnoxious is their second big story: "Has the press gone too far?" Dozens of cameramen follow Lewinsky around while reporters hang on every word out of her lawyer's mouth. Talking heads speculate endlessly about the legality and propriety of Starr's tactics without knowing what is actually going on in the grand jury.

No one takes pictures of Kathleen Willey. No one tries to question her. No one investigates Ron Perelman or traces the connections of Revlon to the government. No one follows up the dozens of leads provided by this scandal. Before this story broke, I had thought that reporters at least pretended that they were trying to be objective. Apparently, no Democratic boot is so encrusted with filth that our major reporters will hesitate to lick it.

Let me make my own position clear. Let's assume that Clinton and Lewinsky used their private moments for prayer meetings. I still regard Clinton's efforts to obtain government and private sector employment for the young lady as corrupt. There is a vast military-economic-governmental complex in this country. More and more, people are succeeding in our economy by political means rather than by achievements. If this way of doing business continues, we will eventually have an economy like that of the old Soviet Union. The Republican Party is so involved in this system that there is no major voice against it. Clinton's fundamental corruption goes unnoticed because it is so common.

Geraldo Rivera is leading the media charge for Clinton. He certainly never questions the propriety of obtaining private sector jobs for cronies. In fact, he questions nothing about Clinton. He spends his time questioning Starr's tactics and motives. He also characterizes the charges against Clinton as an invasion of privacy as though sex were the only issue. He gives the illusion of balance to his show by including anti-Clinton people. They fall into the trap of defending Starr; and when they go on they offensive, they are talked over by other guests and lectured at length by a patronizing host.

Geraldo is a self-proclaimed macho newsman who once said "boo" to a Kennedy and has spent the last decade making up for this lapse in manners. His one major innovation in television was bringing physical violence to daytime talk shows, thus pioneering a field that Jerry Springer has since perfected. What's maddening about Geraldo is that he sometimes invites guests with very unpopular views to his show, thus raising hopes that these views will be heard. Such a guest typically talks for ten seconds before a politically correct guest starts talking over him. An incomprehensible babble continues until Geraldo calls for a commercial, after which the unpopular opinion is never heard again.

Geraldo has a colorful, somewhat buffoonish personality that makes it difficult to be angry with him. You do feel a little uncomfortable, though, when he says something you agree with. Is he honest? Geraldo fancies himself a protector of women and was infuriated by the alleged affair between Joey Buttafucco and Amy Fisher. He offered to "rip his head off and spit down his neck." He remains curiously mute about those women who have been victimized by Clinton's harassments, assaults, and libels. Like many leftists, Geraldo equates anti-government sentiments with racism. He has asked with apparent sinecerity, "How can a person love his country and hate his government?" I ask, "How can a person who's been to high school ask such a stupid question?" Geraldo is, in fact, dishonest. If you said to him, "Weren't the Jews right to hate the Nazis?" I guarantee you that he would accuse you of comparing the U.S. government to the fascists, when that was obviously not the point.

Even Geraldo's pro-government positions are suspect. He appointed himself the Mourner General for the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing and used his evening show to give a short profile for each of the many victims. You would think that he wanted revenge for the bombing. However, his shows on the subject were little more than cheerleading for the federal prosecuters against McVeigh and Nichols. He constantly praised them and said what a good job they were doing. In doing so, he co-opted the hardline position much as Lyndon Johnson framed the argument between his policies and protestors' demands. The more hawkish position was left out of the discussion. In the Oklahoma City case, the more hawkish position was that the prosecuters were doing a terrible disservice to the survivors by not prosecuting the Fortiers, who may have been more guilty of the crime than Nichols. Because of the way newsmen like Geraldo handled the trial, such criticism never surfaced. I would be interested in what the survivors thought about the Fortiers, but apparently Geraldo was not.

Like many Republicans, Geraldo flirts with family values now (Second Family Values). I've never heard him discuss his first wife and children. He spends so much time fatuously talking about his second wife and children that he probably doesn't have the time. When his job gave him a little power over the gullible and a little glamour to the credulous, he mercilessly abused his position. It's significant that Geraldo preyed on interns, Clinton style. I would give him credit for honestly admitting to these amatory escapades in his autobiography, but I have a problem with that, too. Apparently the rules of the famous people dictate that it is bad manners to kiss and tell if you are telling about someone as famous as or more famous than you. Geraldo chronicled his trysts with some pretty famous women, thereby violating even this petty code of honor.

In his guise of macho man, Geraldo often presents himself as Protector of Women. When some female malefactor is discussed Geraldo affects a sappy benevolence and declares that, despite the lady's crimes, he cannot bring himself to wish a woman ill. As mentioned before, Clinton's victims do not enjoy Geraldo's unctuous benedictions. He may be honest about feeling protective toward women. After all, he probably believes that all men are as predatory as he is; and if they were, women would certainly need a lot of protection. Like women who declare that all men are beasts, Geraldo sees the world through the mud colored glasses of his own misconduct. Don't worry about the ladies so much, Geraldo; few men are as loathsome as you.

There have been some high points in the press coverage of the Lewinsky scandal. The first one is people who call talk shows. Most calls are worthless, but I first heard the names Willey and Perelman from callers, not journalists. A caller also pointed out that the Constitution states that "bribery" is an impeachable offense even though this word is never heard from any talking head. The second high point is the Internet. If you can get the fleeting mention of some issue from an unwary television journalist, you can research it on the Internet and usually find that less exalted newsmen have started looking into the matter. The third high point is Chris Matthews, a liberal Democrat, whose show "Hardball" reports on the scandal nightly. Matthews, who substantially agrees with Clinton's policies, has risen above partisanship to present an honest and penetrating look into the various Clinton scandals.