Don't Hate Geraldo Rivera, Pity Him

It had become a nuisance. Seemingly each and every day I would receive emails asking... no, begging, me to publicly skewer Geraldo Rivera over numerous wildly inflammatory remarks made in recent months. Each time I would decline the opportunity. As a general rule, I recommend not chasing after random acts of stupidity.

Yes, I was emotionally impacted by Rivera's assertion that Trayvon Martin's hoodie was to blame for his death. Yes, I cringed with anger when Rivera also boldly and equally irresponsibly argued more recently that the Zimmerman jury would have also killed Martin. But no, waging war against each and every ignorant Geraldo statement is a fruitless endeavor and ascribes undeserved legitimacy to his opinions. Similarly, engaging in debates about whether we actually landed on the moon only benefits the simpleton in the tinfoil hat, not you. There are not two sides to every issue and not all opinions are created equal or deserve rebuttal.

Recently, Geraldo decided to go "17-year-old coed," posting a mostly-nude "selfie" to Twitter in celebration of reaching a body age of 70. His emotional age is another matter. Nonetheless, the door has been kicked wide open to have an honest discussion of who Geraldo is and who he isn't. Let's talk about what else Geraldo sees in the mirror while posing in feigned vanity for Twitter pics.

First, let's stop calling him "Geraldo," his real name is "Gerald."

Once upon a time, Gerald was a respected investigator for the NYPD, lauded reporter and host for WABC. His on-air investigative work was often commended and he was even praised for a very public feud in 1985 with network news pioneer Roone Arledge. Supposedly Arledge refused to air a story which would embarrass the Kennedy family and Rivera called into question Arledge's journalistic integrity. Once upon a time, that was the Gerald Rivera we all knew... and even respected.

Then came Al Capone's vault.

In April 1986, Rivera hosted the syndicated special The Mystery of Al Capone's Vault, where he followed his investigative instincts to the supposed coffers of the infamous gangster. Think of it as an ABC After School Special version of the movie National Treasure with Geraldo in the starring role instead of Nicolas Cage. The syndicated special was "Reality TV" before the genre even existed. There was even a medical examiner and IRS agents on site, just in case the "vault" yielded corpses or any items of value. By the time the live two-hour special ended, the vault yielded nothing but scattered debris and decades of future ridicule.

And so began the implosion of Gerald Rivera.

He has never been the same and it all traces back to The Mystery of Al Capone's Vault. If anyone was to blame it was Al. Yes, let's blame Al Capone for the Gerald Rivera we have today. Al's dead and probably won't mind. Even if he did, we won't hear about it.

1987 marked the debut of Gerald's daytime television show Geraldo. Rising concurrently with The Morton Downey Show, preceding Jerry Springer (1991) and The Maury Povich Show (1991), Geraldo helped usher in the era of "Trash TV." In fact, he dedicated his program to subjects such as "Men in Lace Panties and the Women Who Love Them" and televised race riots in his own studio.

Just two years prior, Gerald was questioning the journalistic integrity of Roone Arledge, imagine that.

Ever since the debut of Geraldo, Gerald has been on a never-ending slide from respectability. And you know what? He's a-ok with it. Maybe Gerald quietly yearns to once again be taken seriously as a journalist, but knows there's no going back. That boat has both sailed and sunk. Maybe he has visions of sugarplums and respect dancing in his head, but knows there are WAY too many shows akin to "Men in Lace Panties and the Women Who Love Them" in his closet "full o' skeletons." You can get more money after losing it, but not credibility.

Gerald Rivera is like the woman who wants attention from men and knows only of short skirts, tramp stamps and see-through blouses to achieve it. Gerald Rivera is like the man who wants attention from women and can only shove tube socks down the front of his Dockers in order to get it. Gerald doesn't realize that as a general rule, whatever was cool at age 32 is probably wildly ridiculous at 70.

Tube socks, tramp stamps and see-through blouses are all that Gerald has left at his disposal. He has no other cards to play to remain relevant and has entered the fifth stage of grief -- acceptance. It's why his commentary relies on incendiary and inflammatory rhetoric more than ever before. It's why someone would take semi-nude "selfies" at age 70 and post to Twitter, too lazy to lie about his phone being hacked. He has come to accept the truth that nobody takes him seriously. Not you, me or any of his on-air colleagues at FOX; all of whom boast less-distinguished resumés.

Before you today is a septuagenarian celebrating his fourth consecutive decade of midlife crisis. Gerald Rivera has embraced his place as the "Air Force Amy" of the Fox News Bunny Ranch of media prostitution.

Recognize clowns by their red, floppy shoes, cartoonish makeup and over-the-top behavior. Clowns are for our entertainment.

Don't hate Gerald Rivera, pity him.

(Or laugh at him... that's fine too.)

Morris W. O'Kelly (Mo'Kelly) is host of "The Mo'Kelly Show" on KFI AM640/XM Satellite and "Mo'Kelly in the Morning" on KTLK AM1150. The Mo'Kelly Report is a syndicated politics and entertainment journal. Contact him at and all commentary is welcome.