“Hello, Dolly!” star Bette Midler reacted Thursday to tweets by pundit Geraldo Rivera that defended fired “Today” co-anchor Matt Lauer and bemoaned the wave of sexual-harassment allegations against politicians and media figures.
“Tomorrow is my birthday,” the Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award winner, who is turning 72, tweeted, posting an old video clip of herself being interviewed by Barbara Walters. “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.”
In the interview, conducted sometime after the publication of Rivera’s 1991 memoir, “Exposing Myself,” Midler responds to Walters asking about then-journalist Rivera writing that while at her Greenwich Village home to interview her, “We were in the bathroom, preparing for the interview, and at some point I put my hands on her breasts. She loved it, and we fell into a passionate embrace, which segued immediately into a brief and torrid affair.”
Midler begged to differ. “It was very unpleasant,” she told Walters. “Geraldo and his producer came to do an interview with me, in the ’70s, the early ’70s. And this was when he was very sort of hot. And he and his producer left the crew in the other room, they pushed me into my bathroom, they broke two poppers [nitrate inhalers used as a stimulant] 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. His behavior was unseemly,” she said.
Midler added, “I’ll tell you the truth, if I had known [that] . . . 20 years later he was going to wind up a slimy talk-show host, I never would have even let him in the room.”
After news of Lauer’s firing on Wednesday, Rivera tweeted: “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.”
Rivera later apologized for his tweets on social media.
Rivera wrote several hours later, “I didn’t sufficiently explain that this is a horrendous problemlong hidden-Harassers are deviants who deserve what is coming to them-Often victims are too frightened to come forward in a timely fashion-I humbly apologize.”