Sean Hannity and Jimmy Kimmel aren’t the only television hosts feuding this week. On "Real Time with Bill Maher," the titular talk show host Bill Maher pressed guest Geraldo Rivera, trying to get answers as to how his journalistic career led him to Fox News--and why he's still friends with Donald Trump.
As Maher pointed out, Rivera was once a “crusading” reporter. Indeed, he won a Peabody Award for exposing abuse at Willowbrook State School in Staten Island in the 1970s. Rivera was visiting the show which aired on Friday night to promote his new book Rivera, “The Geraldo Show: A Memoir.”
“You were one of the original crusading reporters and you care very much about your legacy being as a journalist, so I do have to ask: Why Fox News?” Maher asked right away.
Rivera seriously responded, “that’s a fair question.”
“I think your characterization of Fox is a stereotype, with all due respect” Rivera continued. “I’m pro-choice, I’m pro-immigration reform, I’m pro-gun reform, and I’m on Fox News. It’s easy, because Sean Hannity, for instance, is such a big personality, to say that he represents the sum total of Fox, but I think that, with due respect, there are more voices. It’s not state-run TV, it’s conservative-leaning.”
Rivera suggested that MSNBC is left-leaning, perhaps a counterpart to Fox News.
“But there is a big difference between MSNBC and Fox News. I mean, MSNBC sticks to the truth. They don’t make things up,” Maher said. “There’s a loop going on between Trump and Fox News, would you admit to that? I mean, what does he do all morning? He doesn’t come down to work till 11. He’s there doing his hair, watching Fox & Friends, and then he quotes from Fox & Friends—our policy seems to be coming from Fox & Friends—and then he’ll say something crazy, and then they’ll back it up.”
“I’m still stuck on your saying MSNBC is the truth,” Rivera replied.
“No, I’m saying they don’t make things up,” Maher refuted.
What’s an argument without a concrete example? Rivera pointed to “Russia collusion” as one. “Where’s the collusion?” he asked.
This is when Maher got really frustrated.
“That’s what the investigation is about and the report isn’t in yet,” Maher said. “I’m not saying it’s definitely collusion, but you can’t say it’s an illusion until the report comes out. Would you agree to that?”
Rivera had a different take on the situation.
“I say that anybody who views the witnesses who have been interviewed, the indictments that have come down, the scope of the investigation so far has to come to the conclusion that there’s nothing there yet,” Rivera argued,.
Maher interrupted him and said: “Everyone in this administration has been talking to Russia.”
“You would blame them if they had Russian dressing on their salad,” Rivera replied.
“See, this is what I don’t get: I remember thinking of you as a crusading reporter who was fighting against the spin. I feel like now you are the spin,” Maher said.
“That’s so bull,” Rivera said.
The two continued to bicker for a few minutes, then Maher asked Rivera: “Is Trump dirty or is [Robert] Mueller dirty?” He asked because he said that Fox has been trying to frame Robert Mueller as the corrupt one in the probe.
Rivera said that he keeps policies and politics separate from his relationship with Trump. He said Trump is his friend--and has been for 40 years.
“I can separate the man who’s always been gracious to me, always been nice to my family, we were on Celebrity Apprentice every day together for over six weeks,” Rivera said.
“Who gives a sh** if he was nice to you at Thanksgiving, Geraldo? I’m not trying to be an a**hole to you. You’re a smart guy. This befuddles me. I looked up to you,” Maher said.
“If you don’t look up to me because I’m still friends with the President of the United States, then shame on you,” Rivera refuted. “My friendship with Trump doesn’t diminish me.”
“I don’t look up to you because the President of the United States is doing the things he’s doing,” Maher replied.
You can watch the whole clip here: