Geraldo Rivera Recalls Capone Vault, Says He'd Vote for FOX Colleague
By Nicki Gostin Posted Sep 7th 2010 08:32PM
Here's something guaranteed to make many readers feel really old. Geraldo Rivera, 67, is in the thick of celebrating his 40th year in the news and entertainment business. The opinionated (and perennially mustachioed) TV host spoke to PopEater about his favorite guest ever, the contradiction of being an "Obama Republican" at FOX News, and a little disaster known as the Al Capone vault.
Was the Al Capone vault episode in 1986 your most embarrassing moment?
Yes it was. Reviewing all the old footage in preparation for the 40th anniversary shows brought back so many memories -- good and not so good, like Capone's empty vault. In the last scene of history's highest rated and most personally embarrassing syndicated show, I walk off after finding not bodies or machine guns or criminal contraband, but only an empty bottle of 1920's-era Gilbey's Gin and an antique stop sign.
How did you take it, when it became clear nothing was there?
What the camera doesn't show is me walking straight across the street from the old Lexington Hotel to a catfish restaurant with a tequila bar and I proceeded to get totally wasted. Back in my hotel, I refused all calls and visitors. The first one in the room the next morning was the man pushing the antique room service cart. Reminiscent of the railroad porters of old, he extended his hand holding a fistful of messages for me. While I may have been previously unemployable, the batch of messages I took from him contained 22 job offers including the one I ultimately accepted, my own talk show. "See," I remember him saying to me. "I knew they weren't going to blame the messenger for the bad news."
I'm sorry, but I still find it fascinating that you are at FOX. Do you get along with Mike Huckabee?
He's a great guy. Obviously I don't agree with him on a lot of issues -- abortion and immigration foremost -- but he's a wonderful guy. I would vote for him.
How could you vote for him if you disagree on key issues?
Because sometimes honor is more important and he is a very honorable guy. I consider myself an Obama Republican. I'm liberal to moderate on most issues.
Who has been your favorite guest?
My wife would say Barbra Streisand. My wife is Jewish and she's of the school that Barbra Streisand is part of the divine constellation but right now General John F. Campbell, the commanding officer of the 101st Airborne who has become quite a regular on the show. I met him when he was only a lieutenant colonel in Afghanistan and the war was in its infancy. I call him America's Spartan, our best fighting general ever. My role now is to make sure the U.S. doesn't forget all the good news that's coming out of an admittingly difficult situation and it's just like the surge time; my job is to keep Americans engaged, including our President, until we can make a difference.
So you think we should stay?
It will be like Korea, Germany and Japan. We will never, ever leave for very good strategic reasons. I think we will always have a presence there as I think we should because the alternative to yield what was so costly to obtain is to lose its sphere of influence there to people who don't have America's best interests at heart. We will be there in 100 years. Afghanistan will be very similar.
Yes, South Asia is a critical place in the geo-political reality of life. Our interests are vital in continuing to make sure that the most radical aspects of that society don't attack us again. What is relevant is that going forward we have to be the most important strategic component for the maintenance of world peace. We can't trust the U.N; it's totally ineffectual and watered down. The fact that that U.S. has the same voting rights as some of the Pacific Island nations with a 100,000 residents is absurd.
What do you think of the Tea Party movement?
I think they are the most potent political force in the country today. It's totally sapped the energy of the political dialogue in that the liberals have nothing to say except whine and complain and I think it bodes very ill for the mid-term elections for the democrats. I think they're going to get routed. If the other side, the so called left doesn't have a more articulate message then people are going to walk.
And on a lighter note: you were quite the ladies man back in the day. Want to give me a ball park figure?
No I can't! The worst mistake I made when I wrote my book was naming names and it continues to haunt me but I've been married five times and you've never heard a bad word about me from any of my ex-wives.
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