The 13 Greatest Geraldo Rivera FAILs

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These are moments when the longtime news anchor, talk show host and journalist made news rather than simply reporting it. Perhaps some of these fails come from his stint as a "medical" marijuana tester in 1974, he caught that fail on video too. From the time Geraldo made controversial comments about the Trayvon Martin killing to the time when he claimed to have secret buried treasure belonging to Al Capone to the time when he called Casey Anthony a slut, Geraldo Rivera has never been a stranger to controversy and these FAILs show only a handful of his gaffes from over four decades of being on the air.

After getting his start on local news in the 1970s, Geraldo Rivera went from an investigative journalist from Brooklyn, New York, to someone known more for his sensationalist tactics to drive ratings. He went from investigating the cause of death of legendary singer Elvis Presley to leading the country on a highly publicized prime time special to reveal the contents of a vault once owned by Al Capone. Viewers watched for hours as Geraldo built up the suspense for the big reveal. Viewers were also disappointed when the vault didn't reveal anything important like dead bodies or secrets, but rather empty bottles and some dirt.

That ratings stunt was only a sneak peek at what was yet to come during his self-titled talk show "Geraldo" hit the airwaves in the late 1980s. Whether it was simply to score viewers or out of a "what's the worst that could happen?" mentality, Geraldo continued to find himself in unfortunate situations on the show, including in 1987 when a huge brawl broke out between extremists on his show.

Incredible as it may sound, even after all the sensationalism and Jerry Springer-style antics, Geraldo Rivera continued to be perceived as a top-notch journalist and his career continued. Just because he moved on to more serious news however didn't keep him out of trouble. In fact, as a Fox News correspondent, he found himself under fire again and again including when reporting from New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, when reporting from the front lines as an Iraq War correspondent and when discussing the murder cases involving Casey Anthony, who he called a "slut," and Treyvon Matrin, whose murder he blamed on the child's hooded sweatshirt.

Primed to celebrate his 70th birthday in 2013, Geraldo Rivera has made a career of turning heads with his wacky talk shows, journalistic gaffes and off-color comments about everything from Satanism to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

Check out more lists like the most controversial Pro Sports figures, the worst television hosts and racist slurs from celebrities.

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  1. 13

    Geraldo Rivera Compares Rolling Stone Journalist to Al Qaeda Terrorists

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    You may call Geraldo Rivera a lot of things - a hack, a d-bag, an irrelevant mustachioed joke of a journalist who kind of looks like The Burger King - but one thing you may not call him is "black," particularly if you are a pot. I think you know what I mean. (The kettle thing.)

    Here is how this chain of events played out:

    1. In 2010, freelance journalist Michael Hastings interviewed the top commander in Afghanistan, four-star U.S. Army General Stanley A. McChrystal, and his staff.
    2. Hastings wrote an article, "The Runaway General," featuring quotes from McChrystal and his aides mocking civilian government officials, including Joe Biden, National Security Advisor James L. Jones, and US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry. McChrystal was not directly quoted as being critical of Obama or his policies, but several comments from his aides in the article reflected their perception of McChrystal's disappointment with the President when they met. Prior to the article's release, the staff was contacted to verify the validity of the article - which they did.
    3. McChrystal called Joe Biden to apologize in advance of the article's release to newsstands.
    4. Biden told Obama. Obama read the article. Obama summoned McChrystal to the White House.
    5. McChrystal tendered his resignation, which Obama accepted.
    6. Geraldo Rivera goes on "The O'Reilly Factor" to compare Michael Hastings to two Al Qaeda terrorists who posed as journalists and suicide bombed Sheik Massoud, a valuable U.S. ally in Afghanistan.

    Whoever was in charge of putting that reporter with those soldiers in that context allowed a rat to be in an eagle's nest.
    What can he say? He hates journalists, man. They might as well be drawing maps in the sand for our enemies.

  2. 12

    Geraldo Rivera Wipes Out on Hurricane Ike Seawall

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    Nothing like a good old-fashioned pratfall. In 2008, Geraldo Rivera found his sea legs in Galveston, TX, while filming a segment about evacuations during Hurricane Ike. He could be seen on the seawall talking to firefighters before a strong wave knocked him to the ground, all on live television. Lol.

  3. 11

    Geraldo Rivera Tells America That Their Towns Are Overrun with Satanists

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    Estimates are that there are over 1 million Satanists in this country. ... The majority of them are linked in a highly organized, very secretive network. From small towns to large cities, they have attracted police and FBI attention to their Satanic sexual child abuse, child pornography, and grisly Satanic murders. The odds are that this is happening in your town.
    So spewed Geraldo Rivera in a 1988 special two-hour exposé, "Devil Worship: Exposing Satan's Underground," aired just days before Halloween.
    He put the fear of God into viewers across the country with what was NBC's highest-rated two-hour documentary to date - though the network reportedly still lost money due to a lack of willing advertisers.

    They were just being smart: Geraldo, after all, didn't have any facts to back up any of his outlandish claims and was believed to have greatly inflated estimates to drive ratings. (In case you're wondering, more credible sources estimate around 10,000 adult members of religious Satanic churches in the U.S. plus another 10,000 people who worship the Devil in the privacy of their own homes.)

  4. 10

    Geraldo Rivera Gets Nose Broken by White Supremacist on His Own Show

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    OK, I've got one. Stop me if you've heard it:

    What do white supremacists, black activists, anti-racist skinheads, and Jews have in common?

    Answer: Geraldo

    On Nov. 3, 1988, Rivera invited this motley crüe on stage for his tabloid talk show, "Geraldo." (Spoiler alert: This story ends with the show being labeled "Trash TV.") During the episode, a confrontation broke out between White Aryan Resistance (WAR) soldier John Metzger and African-American civil rights activist Roy Ennis. Punches were thrown, chairs were hurled, stagehands were brought in... and Geraldo's nose was broken.

    On the plus side, ratings for the show went through the roof as news of the fight attracted viewers to the episode before it even aired. On the downside, it earned the show the aforementioned "Trash TV" moniker. Oh well. There's no such thing as bad publicity, right? As you probably know, Geraldo never regained an ounce of respect.

  5. 9

    Geraldo Rivera Gets Heckled Out of Occupy Wall Street

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    The young whippersnappers skipping work and showers to Occupy Wall Street were never exactly in Geraldo Rivera's target demographic. Still, he and his Fox News news crew looked uncomfortable if not embarrassed in October 2011 when they tried to enter the protestors' camp. The unwashed and undoctrinated masses surrounded Rivera's crew chanting, simply, "Fox News lies." After a few awkward moments and sheepish martyr smiles, Geraldo and his team fled. To accompany their departure, the crowed began a new chant: "Hey, hey, hey, goodbye."

  6. 8

    Geraldo Rivera Curses at Cameraman Filming Hurricane Katrina Victim

    Look, Hurricane Katrina was rough for everyone, and journalists were no exception. As the flood waters rose, so did Geraldo's frustration when his cameraman couldn't see a victim clinging to part of a building. During a live segment for Fox News, he shouted and cursed, "There's a person - right there, g*ddammit!" - enough to reportedly earn him a fine from the FCC.

  7. 7

    Geraldo Rivera Says Prayer at Afghanistan Site Where Nothing Happened

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    In 2001, Geraldo Rivera wandered into a fog of war so thick that he ended up 300 miles away from where he claimed to be. Working as a war correspondent in Afghanistan, he reported that was at the site where an incident of friendly fire the day before had resulted in the deaths of three American soldiers. Sniffling through his mustache, he said:

    We walked over what I consider hallowed ground today. ... I said the Lord's Prayer and really choked up.
    The only problem was that he was not even close to the actual location of the incident, Kandahar, which was several hundred miles away from where he was standing, Tora Bora.

    In a rare twist, there actually were casualties from friendly fire in Tora Bora a few days later... Not that that makes it OK.

  8. 6

    Geraldo Rivera Calls Casey Anthony a Slut

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    Some time during Summer 2008, doe-eyed Caucasian American toddler Caylee Anthony was murdered in Orlando, FL. Three years later, her mother Casey - then 25 - was on trial for her murder. Prosecution focused on her hard-partying ways and lady-of-leisure lifestyle, even when she had a kid at home / locked in the trunk of her car.

    During the the high-profile trial, it was revealed that Casey Anthony got a tattoo that said Bella vita, "the beautiful life" in the weeks following her daughter's "disappearance." Geraldo Rivera, ever the meticulous wordsmith, somersaulted in to the media circus with his own eloquent verdict:

    More evidence... I think it will end the prosecution case with a bang, so to speak, to show that this was a selfish, narcissistic, self-involved slut who wanted to kill her child to have la bella vita.

  9. 5

    Geraldo Rivera Stops a Rescue Team from Saving a Katrina Victim So He Can Do It Himself

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    Did you know that Geraldo Rivera once saved a woman's life? It's true! While on the phone with Fox News, he rescued an elderly woman and her dog who were stranded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. He was a hero! Cue fame, riches, and knighthood.

    Here's the thing: There was someone else already there to save the woman. The New York Times reported that Geraldo literally shoved a member of the U.S. Air Force out of the way so that he (Geraldo Rivera) could perform the heroic rescue on camera. So very brave.

  10. 4

    Geraldo Rivera Endangers American Troops, Compromises Iraqi Mission

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    This is a good one. In 2003, the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army - the "Screaming Eagles" - was escorting war correspondent Geraldo Rivera in Iraq when he almost got them all killed. During his broadcast, he had his photographer aim the camera down at the sand, where he drew a map of their current location in relation to Baghdad. But that's not all! Before a rational human being had time to leap in to kick sand over Geraldo's human bullseye, he went on to diagram the military plans of the division. Like, he drew a line on his map, effectively telling both at-home American viewers and foreign mortal enemies where the 101st was headed next.

    A Pentagon spokesman later reported that Geraldo was to be dropped off at the Kuwaiti border, in the desert, completely naked and covered in honey.

  11. 3

    Geraldo Rivera Tells Fox News Viewers: Obama Is Dead

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    Remember the 2008 Presidential Election and the riveting race leading up to it? Remember how funny and clever it was every time some pundit, political commentator, or dirty lunatic in line at Rite Aid called the Democratic candidate either "Barack Osama" or "Obama bin Laden"? It was a modern Golden Age in our nation's history that I hope to tell my grandchildren about someday.

    After Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in a raid by a U.S. special forces military unit (thanks, Barry), the media got superjazzed about breaking the news. It was an exciting time! How did it happen? Where was the body? How could we be sure this really happened? Professional news-breaker Geraldo Rivera was on the scene ASAP, telling loyal Fox News fans the words they had been waiting years to hear:

    Obama is dead.

  12. 2

    Geraldo Rivera Opens Al Capone's Vaults on Live TV, Finds Dirt

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    Oh, how I wish I could remember this first-hand! But alas, in those days, I was a Sally Jessy man...

    The story goes: For a few years leading up to his arrest, Al Capone, the legendary gangster (Tommy guns, not Tommy Hilfiger), lived in the Lexington Hotel in Chicago, IL. During hotel renovations in the early 1980s, a construction company discovered that Capone's medicine cabinet hid the entrance to a series of underground tunnels. The elaborate passages connected brothels and bars and, most importantly, provided an escape route in case of police raid. Further investigation led to discovery of a secret vault which - rumor had it - contained a great deal of Capone's wealth.

    In 1986, Geraldo Rivera promoted the bejesus out of television special during which he planned to open Al Capone's vault. It was a Big Deal. For scope, last summer's build-up to the televised $10 million holy nuptials of Kim Kardashian and her ex-husband had nothing on this. For weeks, Geraldo fans and morbidly curious normal people nationwide were swept up in the hype.

    On April 21, 1986, 30 million people (15 times as many people as voted for Ralph Nader in 2004) tuned in to the live special "The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults." As America watched with bated breath, Rivera ran his mouth for two whole hours about what he might find inside. Dead bodies? No problem! He had a medical examiner on hand. Gold and riches? Never fear - he had IRS agents there, too. In the final act, someone finally opened the damn thing. This is what was inside:

    -Empty bottles

    Hey, maybe the bottles were used to store illegal Prohibition-era bathtub gin! That's what Geraldo suggested. I defy you to prove him wrong.

  13. 1

    Geraldo Rivera Says Trayvon Martin Was Murdered Because He Was Wearing a Hoodie

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    In February 2012, while (allegedly) walking around his suburban Florida gated community (allegedly) holding an Arizona Iced Tea and a bag of Skittles, unarmed black 17 year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by (allegedly) racist & paranoid self-appointed neighborhood vigilante George Zimmerman, 28. On the rainy evening in question, Martin was on the phone with a female friend when he realized someone was following him. Though the friend suggested that Martin run, he said that he would only put up his jacket hood and walk faster. She heard a conversation between the other two men (Martin: "Why are you following me?" Zimmerman: "What are you doing here?") before the call cut out. Less than 5 minutes later, Trayvon Martin was dead.

    As the weeks passed with no arrest, high-profile figures from LeBron James to Barack Obama went public in support of finding justice for the murdered teen. Geraldo Rivera interjected himself into the media frenzy on March 23rd when he appeared on "The O'Reilly Factor" to make the most coherent argument he could muster: That Trayvon Martin was dead because he had worn a hoodie.

    I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was. ... I'll bet you money: if he didn't have that hoodie on, that nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn't have responded in that violent and aggressive way.

    The controversial (i.e. weird) comment drew widespread outrage and criticism, and thousands signed petitions demanding an apology. A few days later, Rivera Tweeted:
    Heard petition demands my apology to Trayvon's parents.

    Save effort: I deeply apologize for any hurt I caused-that is not my goal or intent
    But not to be misunderstood, he clarified that he only had the most noble of intentions at heart for all of the little brown kids in America. He sent an email to Politico saying,
    I apologize to anyone offended by what one prominent black conservative called my 'very practical and potentially life-saving campaign urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies.'
    In a response, a coalition of hoodie-wearers and manufacturers worldwide released the statement: "Yeah, whatever. Dick."

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