Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera has apologized and says he is “filled with regret” for defending the network’s embattled former chief executive Roger Ailes earlier this summer, after the network settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former anchor Gretchen Carlson last week.
In an essay posted to his Facebook page on Thursday, Rivera said he reacted to the sexual harassment accusations against Ailes with “extreme skepticism,” because, like the rest of his colleagues at Fox, he was “totally blindsided” by the charges.
“The man we knew as the blustering genius who invented our mighty Fox News Channel is a deceitful, selfish misogynist, if the charges against him are true,” Rivera wrote. “And if they are true, then his shame and banishment are well earned.”
Rivera took to Twitter in July to defend Ailes after Carlson filed a $20 million suit against the network.
“Don’t believe the crap about #RogerAiles,” the correspondent tweeted. “Only ones talking dirt are those who hate #FoxNews & want to hurt network that’s kicking their ass.”
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) July 19, 2016
When Ailes resigned two weeks after the scandal first broke, Rivera cryptically tweeted: “Oh the grotesque unfairness of life.”
In his essay, Rivera wrote that he has known Ailes for decades and that the former chief executive “had [his] back through thick and thin” while the anchor served as Fox News’ senior war correspondent, covering the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“His personal and professional loyalty over the years impelled me to Tweet again on Roger’s behalf, even as his scandal deepened,” Rivera wrote.
“Roger resigned two days later when it became apparent that Gretchen was not alone in alleging abhorrent behavior behind his closed doors,” he continued. “Now I am filled with regret for stubbornly discounting their various allegations. The Murdochs would not have turned the world upside down but for good cause. Moreover, I apologize for my skepticism. Like victims of sexual assault, those alleging harassment deserve the presumption of credibility.”
Rivera also claimed that, because of his “uninformed” support of Ailes, and due to his upcoming manuscript’s positive depiction of the former executive, publisher HarperCollins had decided not to go ahead with publishing it.
Rivera added that while other Fox News competitors would undoubtedly continue to cover Ailes’ story from every possible angle, the other major cable news networks have also cultivated an inappropriate “social culture” and would be “better served to clean their own houses.”
“To all the victims of sexual harassment, direct and indirect, I am sorry for what happened to you,” Rivera concluded his essay. “As the father of three daughters, including one in the news business, I urge all who have been offended to reach out. Similarly, if you see harassment, say harassment, even if the alleged offender is an old friend.”
Read Rivera’s full post here.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum