Geraldo Rivera (born July 4, 1943) is a television journalist with an affinity for dramatic high-profile stories and a style that has often been accused of sensationalism.
He was born Gerald Miguel Riviera in New York City. He graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1969, and was lawyer for the New York Puerto Rican group the Young Lords. He was interviewed when they occupied an East Harlem church in 1970, attracting the attention of a news producer. He was hired by New York City station WABC-TV for their local news program. In 1972 he garnered national attention with his story of the abuse of mentally retarded patients at New York's Willowbrook School, and began to appear on ABC national programs such as Good Morning America and 20/20.
In 1985 ABC's Roone Arledge refused to air a report done by Rivera on the relationship between Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy: Rivera publicly criticized Arledge's journalistic integrity (claiming that his friendship with the Kennedy family had caused him to spike the story) and was fired.
In 1986 he hosted an hour-long special on the opening of what he called "Al Capone's secret vault" which had the highest rating of any syndicated special in television history, but is more noted for its disappointing denouement: the "vault" turned out to be a cellar, containing little of interest.
In 1987 he began hosting a talk show, Geraldo, which set the trends toward controversial guests and theatricality (one of the early shows was titled "Men in Lace Panties and the Women Who Love Them"). His nose was broken in a well-publicized brawl that occurred on his 1988 show featuring Nazi skinheads and black activists, which sparked Newsweek's characterization of his show as "Trash TV".
He was noted for self-promotion and for inserting himself into stories: he had plastic surgery on his program (twice), and his autobiography Exposing Myself caused headlines in 1991 by discussing his sexual dalliances.
In 1997 he contracted with NBC to work as a reporter for 6 years for a fee of 30 million U.S. dollars. Following the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack, he accepted a pay cut and went to work for the Fox News Channel as a war correspondent starting in November 2001.
During the U.S./Afghanistan war in 2001, he was derided for falsely claiming to be reporting from the scene of a friendly fire incident which in actuality had occurred 50 miles away. He claims the discrepancy resulted from a misunderstanding.
During the 2003 Iraq War, as an "embedded journalist" with U.S. forcesin Iraq, he drew a map in the sand during a live broadcast on the Fox News Channel, which The Pentagon felt revealed potentially damaging strategic information. The Pentagon announced that they were forcing him out of Iraq; two days later Rivera announced that henceforth and voluntarily he would be reporting on the Iraq conflict from Kuwait.