After Geraldo Rivera defended Matt Lauer and called news “a flirty business,” his bosses at Fox News said they were troubled by his comments, People magazine reported.

In addition, a 1991 interview resurfaced in which Bette Midler told Barbara Walters that Rivera groped her.

Rivera’s trouble started with a series of tweets Wednesday in which he expressed sadness for Lauer, who was fired from the “Today Show” after being accused of sexual misconduct in the workplace.

Rivera called Lauer a “real gentleman” and expressed concern that the “epidemic” of sexual harassment allegations against powerful men in media and entertainment is “criminalizing courtship and conflating it (with) predation.”

He then offered his own narrow definition of sexual harassment and said such an allegation should never be used by women to “get even (with) bad bosses or hated (exes).” He also said that allegations should be made in a “timely fashion.”

The tweets prompted a fierce backlash on Twitter and admonishment from his bosses at Fox News, where Rivera is a correspondent-at-large. Fox News has also dealt with its own scandals involving sexual harassment, having to fire its late chief Roger Ailes and popular news host Bill O’Reilly after multiple women accused each of those men of sexual harassment or assault.

Fox News issued this statement with regard to Rivera: “Geraldo’s tweets do not reflect the views of Fox News or its management. We were troubled by his comments and are addressing them with him.”

As for the 1991 Bette Midler interview, it showed the film and Broadway star addressing Rivera’s claim that the two had a sexual encounter.

In his 1991 memoir “Exposing Myself,” Rivera mentioned going to interview Midler in the 1970s. “We were in the bathroom, preparing for the interview, and at some point I put my hands on her breasts,” he wrote, according to a line excerpted in the Washington Post at the time.

Midler offered a different account to Walters, emphasizing that the encounter was not consensual.

“Geraldo and his producer came to do an interview with me, in the ’70s, the early ’70s,” she said. “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 and pushed them under my nose and proceeded to grope me.”

“Poppers” is a slang term for the recreational drug alkyl nitrite.

In the interview, Walters looked shocked as she asked, “Grope?”

Midler nodded and said, “Groped me. I did not offer myself up on the altar of Geraldo Rivera. He was… he was unseemly.”

At the time, Midler’s accusation didn’t erupt into a major scandal because one high-profile star accusing another of sexual misconduct was not taken as seriously back then, People said.

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In a Washington Post interview at the time his memoir was released, Rivera said he had sex with a lot of people in his life. “With all the private people, their names were either changed or they were used with their permission. With the public people, like Bette Midler and Margaret Trudeau and Marian Javits, they live their lives on the public stage, and much worse things have been written about them. I don’t think it’s that slanderous a statement to say that somebody made love to me 15 years ago.”

Following the backlash and Fox News calling him out, Rivera tried to walk back his comments and issued an apology of sorts, saying he didn’t “sufficiently explain” that sexual harassment is a “horrendous problem long hidden.” He also called harassers “deviants who deserve what is coming to them.”

He also acknowledged that victims are often “too frightened to come forward in a timely fashion.”

“I humbly apologize,” he said.


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