Talk about a Twitter oops.
Geraldo Rivera of Fox News took to Twitter to weigh in on the fast-moving Matt Lauer sexual misconduct claims to say, in essence: This is all part and parcel of the dating scene.
He wrote: “Sad about @MLauer great guy, highly skilled & empathetic w guests & a real gentleman to my family & me. News is a flirty business & it seems like current epidemic of #SexHarassmentAllegations may be criminalizing courtship & conflating it w predation. What about #Garrison Keillor?”
News is a flirty business?
But wait — there’s another.
“A jerk’s a jerk in dating,” Rivera went on, in a separate tweet. “#SexHarassment should be confined to situations where superior imposes himself on subordinate who feels unable to complain because of power of perp or feared consequences to victim’s employment. Shouldn’t be used to get even w bad bosses or hated ex’s.”
Let’s see now. If context is key, Rivera is missing the point. Lauer’s accusers — and more have indeed come forward — are co-workers and, because of his own high-profile position, more than likely subordinates.
Even so, Rivera’s take on what constitutes sexual harassment isn’t exactly a legal one. Confining the definition to boss-to-subordinate would just seem to open a whole can of unwanted worms — yes?
He then tweets: “#SexHarassment allegations should require: 1-made in a timely fashion-say with 5 yrs. 2-some contemporaneous corroboration, like witnesses, electronic or written communications. W $ settlements in multi-millions slight chance exists some victims are motivated by more than justice.”
His tweets generated such a furor that Fox News was forced to issue a quick statement.
It went like this: “Geraldo’s tweets do not reflect the views of Fox News or its management. We were troubled by his comments and are addressing them with him.”
Should say so. The tweets smelled of a guilty guy trying to preemptively explain away his own bad behaviors — or of a guy who’s just clueless to the realities of sexual harassment law and in dire need of some HR training.
Either way, Rivera himself issued a statement of sorts, too.
On Twitter, hours after his initiate tweets, he wrote: “Reaction to my tweets today on #sexharassment makes clear I didn’t sufficiently explain that this is a horrendous problem long hidden - Harassers are deviants who deserve what is coming to them-Often victims are too frightened to come forward in a timely fashion-I humbly apologize.”
But he said what he said, and his tweets are still on his feed. And the big takeaway is this: If Rivera’s thoughts are the prevailing view among men in the workforce, or at least men in the media, America has a long way to go to overcome this whole sexual harassment thang.