Bette Midler demands apology from Geraldo Rivera for alleged sexual assault

The #MeToo movement gained a powerful voice today when Bette Midler posted about an accusation of assault she first made back in 1991.

Those were different times, but now, in this moment of cultural reckoning, Midler’s assertion that sexual assault is “not funny” is finally being heard.

SEE ALSO: #MeToo is beating out Trump in TIME’s ‘Person of the Year’ reader poll

In a series of tweets, Midler shared a clip of an interview with Barbara Walters in which she recounted how Geraldo Rivera groped her without her consent when they met for the first time:

Bette Midler

Tomorrow is my birthday. I feel like this video was a gift from the universe to me. Geraldo may have apologized for his tweets supporting Matt Lauer, but he has yet to apologize for this. #MeToo

11:41 PM – Nov 30, 2017
2,794 2,794 Replies 16,610 16,610 Retweets 47,613 47,613 likes
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In the clip, Walters asks Midler to respond to Rivera’s claims that she was “insatiable” in his recently published autobiography, Exposing Myself (a title that’s aged real well). In the book, Rivera describes his “conquest” of Midler. Leaving the question of consent out of the picture entirely, he describes how, “We were in the bathroom, preparing for the interview, and at some point I put my hands on her breasts.”

Showing exactly why so many victims of assault and harassment don’t feel comfortable coming forward, Midler bristles at this account, but initially hesitates before coming forward with her own, worried that she, “better not” or she’ll “get in trouble.”

Then she barrels forward, describing how, actually, “[Rivera] and his producer left the crew in the other room, they pushed me into my bathroom, they broke two poppers and pushed them under my nose, and proceeded to grope me… I did not offer myself up on the altar of Geraldo Rivera. He was unseemly.”

“I did not offer myself up on the altar of Geraldo Rivera. He was unseemly.”
Midler tries to laugh off the incident, even while appearing visibly shaken by the encounter. Walters’ reaction (or lack thereof) is perhaps most telling of all. The venerated journalist not only tries to bypass her story, but flat out cuts Midler off in an attempt to stop her from continuing.

Hysterically, Rivera only has himself to blame for becoming the latest powerful media man in the spotlight for accusations of harassment and assault. The clip resurfaced in response to a series of tweets he posted defending disgraced Today host Matt Lauer, justifying sexual misconduct in news rooms and throwing in some arbitrary rules for allegations before they can be believed.

Geraldo Rivera

Sad about @MLauer great guy, highly skilled & empathetic w guests & a real gentleman to my family & me. News is a flirty business & it seems like current epidemic of #SexHarassmentAllegations may be criminalizing courtship & conflating it w predation. What about #GarrisonKeillor?

2:30 AM – Nov 30, 2017
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Geraldo Rivera

A jerk’s a jerk in dating. #SexHarassment should be confined to situations where superior imposes himself on subordinate who feels unable to complain because of power of perp or feared consequences to victim’s employment. Shouldn’t be used to get even w bad bosses or hated ex’s

2:37 AM – Nov 30, 2017
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Geraldo Rivera

#SexHarassment allegations should require: 1-made in a timely fashion-say w/n 5 yrs. 2-some contemporaneous corroboration, like witnesses, electronic or written communications. W $ settlements in multi-millions slight chance exists some victims are motivated by more than justice

2:48 AM – Nov 30, 2017
6,382 6,382 Replies 433 433 Retweets 1,594 1,594 likes
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Rivera “humbly apologized” for his laughably tone-deaf opinions (while apparently still standing by the rest of his decades-long career of missing the point entirely while lodging his foot in his mouth). His apology was so humble, in fact, that he forgot to also apologize to Midler for the “flirty business” of allegedly drugging and assaulting her before an interview.

Honestly, though, we should thank Rivera (and, more readily, Midler for her initial and continued bravery) for providing us with the clearest example of the insidious tactics predators will use to try and silence women to cover their own asses.

SEE ALSO: Matt Lauer’s interview with Bill O’Reilly over harassment claims looks deeply hypocritical now

It’s no wonder why Rivera felt like it was his god-given right, as a white straight man, to stipulate the “requirements” for taking a sexual harassment allegation seriously. Because, of course, if allegations need to be “made in a timely fashion” — like oh, I don’t know, just off the top of his head, “say w/n 5 yrs” — then that means the incident with Midler wouldn’t count.

Also Geraldo, we’re glad you brought up #GarrisonKeillor. This might surprise you, but you actually have a lot more in common with the recently disgraced MPR legend than you think. Because only a day before he was fired for “inappropriate behavior,” Keillor published an article in The Washington Post defending Al Franken, another powerful man accused of sexual harassment.

Does that strategy sound familiar to you, Geraldo (AKA #1 Fox News fan of network rival Matt Lauer, formerly of NBC)?

It’s funny how creepy men keep having these sympathetic hot takes about other ousted creepy men. It’s almost as if they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of the systems that enable those predators to sexually harass, assault, and silence women with impunity for decades 🤔 .

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