Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Journalism of Crap: Geraldo Edition

For the last 30 years, Geraldo Rivera’s career has been marked by one spectacularly lucrative failure after another.  His incompetence is legendary. His lack of good judgment is astonishing.  His ability to remain employed is miraculous.  If failure was an Olympic event, Geraldo would probably find a way to lose that, too.  The man is a veritable crap factory, producing journalistic excrement with the regularity of a malevolent metronome.  Let us take a moment to reflect.

1986 – Al Capone’s Vault
During the renovation of a Chicago hotel that Al Capone had once inhabited, a system of secret tunnels was discovered that led straight to Geraldo Rivera’s ego.  A two-hour live special was constructed around the opening of a secret room in one of the secret tunnels, a room dubbed Al Capone’s vault.  The hype leading up to this show was extraordinary.  It was suggested that the opening of the vault might reveal anything from masses of money to bunches of bodies.  In the end, the only things Geraldo found were some empty bottles and a reason to cry.  The show became a national punchline for years.  It would have been enough to sink the career of any normal hack, but Geraldo was no normal hack. He was a hack with a fine mustache.

1988 – Satanic Panic
Those of you old enough to remember the 80s are probably having back trouble.  You might also recall that we actually lived through a friggin’ witch hunt which would come to be called the Satanic Panic.  Fundamentalist Christians and other crazy people had been making claims about rampaging Satanic cults for years, but it took a mainstream dipshit like Geraldo to spark a national hysteria that would send innocent people to prison and scar many children for life.   His two-hour NBC special, Devil Worship: Exposing Satan’s Underground, was a gloriously fact-free mélange that had great chunks of America convinced that Satanists were legion, and that they were torturing and murdering children with impunity all across the country.  People began to look with deep suspicion upon anyone who possessed a 20-sided die (for reasons other than the usual).  A Black Sabbath t-shirt was practically considered a confession of crime in some jurisdictions.  It was an exciting time to be alive for us non-Christians. Thanks, Geraldo.

Part One

1988 – Instant Karma
Before there was Jerry Springer, there was Geraldo.  Yes, it’s true.  Geraldo helped to invent the grotesque nightmare of televised daytime freak shows.  There had been plenty of talk shows before, but it took a slug like Geraldo to ramp up the exploitation to a new level, completely disdaining the well-being of his guests and the intelligence of his audience.  In 1988, a small slice of poetic justice was served when a mix of racist skinheads and non-whiteys exploded into this:

Naturally, that episode was one of the highest-rated daytime talk shows in history. Thanks, America.

1991 - Geraldo Exposes Geraldo
Having done his best to sully the reputations of countless innocent people, Geraldo finally decided to go after someone guilty: himself.  In 1991, he released one of the scuzziest celebrity autobiographies in history. 
Notice that the great journalist needed help to write his autobiography

Geraldo enjoyed kissing and telling to such a degree that one suspects he occasionally skipped the kissing.  Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler, and Judy Collins were among those shamed by having their (allegedly) wretched taste revealed to the world.

2003 - Geraldo Exposes US Troop Movements

After his journey into autobiographical sleaze, Geraldo spent the rest of the 90s sucking the toes of leprous dwarves in Manila.  Not really.  That was what Geraldo would call an "editorial comment".  In reality, Geraldo kind of fell off the radar for a bit.  But that's ok, because with Geraldo, you don't need radar. He'll eventually draw you a map. In 2003, he was embedded with a military unit in Iraq and broadcasting on live television (for FOX News), when he decided to draw a map in the sand to indicate exactly where the unit was located and where it was going.

Not actual map

Geraldo independently decided to leave Iraq shortly after the military told him that he had to leave Iraq.

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