Media Guy: Geraldo Rivera
He may no longer be the only media icon we all love to hate, but Geraldo was the first, clawing his way into the national spotlight by shamelessly chasing any story with even a whiff of controversy until, in April of 1986, he simultaneously hit pay dirt and rock bottom with his syndicated special The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vault. After hours of digging, Geraldo was left empty handed, a laughingstock, his career presumably in ruins.
But like that signature moustache, which has weathered dozens of fashion trends without losing a whisker, Geraldo’s impervious to setbacks. After all, this is a guy who was dis-embedded with the US military in Iraq after he used a map he drew in the sand to disclose the details of an upcoming operation, a misstep that prompted a hilarious Daily Show segment charting Geraldo’s progress in Iraq, in which Stephen Colbert drew what looked like a person in the sand and revealed that Geraldo was on a mission to stick his own head up his ass.
Not even the American military has the capability of containing Geraldo, and that’s a big part of what makes him so great. After all, it was Geraldo who first revealed the news for what it really is: high-priced infotainment created not for the well-being of its users, but to get ratings. Geraldo saw the 24-hour news cycle coming and hopped aboard, shamelessly sensationalizing any story he could get his hands on. And yet, when confronted with a creature of his own creation — Bill O’Reilly of The O’Reilly Factor — this past year, Geraldo had the guts to stand his ground, arguing that O’Reilly was using a drunk-driving accident to inflame hatred of illegal aliens. In other words, Geraldo is the ultimate in unpredictable media creations: you really never do know what he’s going to do next.
— Matt Ashare