Geraldo Rivera may be getting a lot of attention for tweeting a half-nude selfie, but fans of the 70-year-old Fox News personality know that was a mere blip in a long and colorful career.
Some might call it self-aggrandizement, others might question his journalism, but we prefer to think of Rivera as a giver, someone who puts others first in his never-ending effort to entertain and enlighten.
Just pause to reflect on a few of his greatest moments:
1. The Capone vault. In 1986, Rivera promised viewers he would crack open a vault he believed belonged to Chicago crime boss Al Capone. But once inside, Rivera found nothing except some broken bottles. The mustachioed newsman claimed to have been humiliated by the anti-climactic find, but then had the last laugh when "The Mystery of Al Capone's Vault" delivered the highest ratings ever for a syndicated special.
2. The skinhead brawl. Rivera made national headlines again in 1988, when his talk show "Geraldo" featured a debate among white supremacists, black leaders and Jewish activists that included derogatory language. A chair-flinging brawl broke out on the set and Rivera wound up with a broken nose. Critics ripped him for leading a push toward "trash TV," but strong ratings kept the show on the air until 1998.
3. The Trayvon Martin hoodie flap. Shortly after the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, Rivera claimed on Fox News that the Florida teen's death may have been attributable to his fashion choice. "I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as [the shooter] George Zimmerman," Rivera declared. The comments stirred outrage, but Rivera refused to back down, later saying: "I was right about the hoodie, wasn't I?"
4. The Willowbrook documentary. Lest you think Rivera is just a clown, we offer this as counter-evidence, "Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace," a 1972 documentary that exposes horrifying conditions at the Willowbrook State School for mentally challenged children in New York. Some of the disturbing images show naked and nearly naked children in an institutional setting. Rivera, then at WABC-TV in New York, ended up winning a Peabody for the film, which helped establish his reputation and led a few years later to a gig on ABC's "20/20."
What do you think of Geraldo?
Twitter: @scottcollinsLATCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times