Geraldo Rivera on Working for Fox News, the Dangers He’s Faced in War Zones, and the Advice He Gave President Trump on Gun Control

“I really wanted to set the record straight,” newsman tells Howard of why he wrote his new memoir “The Geraldo Show”

March 28, 2018
Photo: The Howard Stern Show

Television mainstay Geraldo Rivera is returning to his other medium of choice with his new book “The Geraldo Show,” an in-depth memoir that looks back at his iconic career in journalism, entertainment, and the overall public eye. “I had scores to even out,” Geraldo told Howard during his Stern Show visit on Wednesday. “I really wanted to set the record straight.”

One story he wanted to shed new light on was what went on behind the scenes at Fox News following a slew of sexual harassment allegations from former and current female employees against several of their male counterparts. When Geraldo’s boss and confidant Roger Ailes was accused of firing Gretchen Carlson after she rejected his advances, he didn’t quite know what to believe. Ailes had never exhibited the type of behavior he was being charged with in front of Geraldo so he initially had a hard time believing Carlson’s story. When more evidence surfaced confirming her claims, however, he realized he needed to stand by her, not Ailes.

“I felt embarrassed. Then I felt, ‘Oh my God, what have I been doing all this time … backing a guy that didn’t deserve that kind of loyalty?’ You know, it was a revelation. That’s why what Gretchen did was so historically significant,” Geraldo told Howard.

With so many men being accused in such a short period of time, Fox News had no choice but to begin a company-wide effort to ensure their newsroom remained a safe space for all employees, regardless of gender. Geraldo told Howard he, and many others, had meetings about what was and wasn’t acceptable behavior in the workplace.

“I had mine last Valentine’s Day, ironically,” Geraldo said. “They run you through the mill.”

Geraldo has been at Fox News since late 2001 after deciding to end his show on CNBC in order to become a war correspondent for Fox, a choice he told Howard had everything to do with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The New Jersey town he lived in at the time had seen several of its residents die that day and Geraldo explained the loss his community experienced was “earth-shattering.”

On top of that, he told Howard he’d long felt a sense of guilt for never serving in the military after receiving a deferment from fighting in the Vietnam War. “I really felt for decades that my avoiding service was something that was a shame, that was a black mark on the way I saw myself,” Geraldo told Howard. “I didn’t want anyone to ever think that I didn’t go because I lacked the courage to be in combat.”

While on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, Geraldo faced plenty of danger in the war zones he reported from. “The fact that I’m still standing is a miracle,” he told Howard. But he explained danger is an unavoidable part of the job.

“That’s the life that I chose, you know, to go and risk it all because that’s best way to tell the story,” he continued.

Because he arrived in the Middle East ahead of any large-scale deployment of U.S. forces, Geraldo told Howard it was up to him and his crew to arm and protect themselves. “Before the U.S. military got involved on the ground, we were always on our own,” he said. Geraldo carried a Russian-made 9-millimeter gun with a bandolier of bullets and though he and his team were never caught in direct enemy fire, he was ready to shoot should shooting become necessary.

“If they come after me, it’s not gonna be a murder, it’s gonna be a gunfight,” Geraldo said, a comment he’s made in the past.

Howard wondered why Rivera doesn’t seem to earn the respect he deserves as a leading war correspondent. “I ruin my credibility by my own extravagance,” Geraldo admitted.

His worldwide fame has led Geraldo to television gigs outside of news, including stints on “Dancing With the Stars” and “The Celebrity Apprentice,” the latter of which was hosted and produced by Donald Trump. Now that Trump is in the White House, Geraldo told Howard he remains friends with the president, even having dinner with him and some of Trump’s family at Mar-a-Lago last month. Earlier that day, President Trump had visited with some of the survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

“He was deeply affected by what he saw,” Geraldo said of Trump who told the table about the horrific injuries he saw during the hospital visit. Geraldo told Howard he suggested to President Trump that night that the minimum age to buy the firearm used in the deadly shooting be raised from 18 to 21. According to Rivera, Trump seemed receptive to such a measure at the time. But on Wednesday, Geraldo expressed his disappointment to see the president still backing down from a federal law that would keep guns out of the hands of teenagers.

Nevertheless, Geraldo told Howard he supports President Trump and wants him to succeed while in office.

“He knows that I back him,” Geraldo said.

To pre-order Geraldo Rivera’s new memoir “The Geraldo Show” click here.