In a way, you have to admire the grim stoicism of Geraldo Rivera—a man so openly despised by both sides of the political spectrum, and for whom life has been like a 30-year chair to the face, yet who continues to offer himself up as a roving whipping boy for America’s mistrust of the media. Time and again he’s sent to cover a story armed with little more than a microphone and the shield of his incredible self-regard, only to have the story inevitably become about how much no one wants him there. It happened at Occupy Wall Street. It happened in Baltimore. And yesterday it happened again in Philadelphia, as Rivera wandered into the fray of protestors outside the Democratic National Convention, then was immediately surrounded by people shouting, “Fuck you!” and at one point, dumping water on his head. It was the most literal realization yet of Rivera’s role as Fox News’ human dunk tank.
The Daily Beast’s Andrew Desiderio caught part of the confrontation on cellphone video, capturing a standoff between Rivera and one protestor who calls him a “Nazi.” Clearly never having learned to not engage, Rivera retorts by asking whether he believes in a free press. “I support a free press, not a Wall Street press,” the protestor replies, but before this scintillating, live comment section can really get going, someone reaches up from behind and pours a bottle of water on Rivera’s head. Rivera is quickly ushered off by security guards as the crowd chants, “Shame! Shame!”—yet through it all, he wears the same strained smile, the rictus grin of someone who died inside long ago.
The abuse doesn’t end there, of course, as Geraldo Rivera is still in a public place. As he attempts to continue his live report, he’s drowned out by a protestor repeating, “Free Palestine!” until he turns and fires back, “We got it, sweetheart—stop stalking us.” And as another video posted by Press For Truth shows, he spent several more minutes being surrounded by angry throngs yelling, “Get the fuck out of here!” and “You call that reporting, Geraldo? Fuck you!” to his face, all while trying desperately to remain amiable with people inches from his mustache, calling him a “puppet” and shouting at him about his Trayvon Martin comments.
When the Press For Truth cameraman asks him how he feels about all the attention, and why it is he thinks he’s bearing the brunt of their hatred, Rivera is remarkably candid, and (almost) sympathetically forgiving. “It’s uncomfortable,” he says. “Well, they have various agendas, frustrations.”
Indeed they do—and as always, Geraldo makes a convenient punching bag to take them out on. So much so, one wonders how anyone could possibly withstand it without heavy narcotics or, in his case, teensy red sunglasses that render everyone as happy little cartoon strawberries. Who could be mad at a strawberry calling you a racist?
But as Rivera told the Baltimore radio host who called him an “agitator,” he mostly gets by on convincing himself he’s serving a greater good: “What do you want? Do you want me to stay home?” he asks. And hey, maybe he’s right. Without Geraldo Rivera there to be a walking Two Minutes Hate and absorb so much cathartic rage wherever terrible things are going down, who knows how much worse they would get? So thank you, Geraldo Rivera. Thank you, and fuck you.