Nearly forgotten article from GQ, late '80s, its subject lost to memory but one detail that stuck -- the writer mentioned that he took part in a weekly touch football game in Central Park and Geraldo Rivera was another player.
Rivera, he claimed, was the type of competitor who jumped to catch a pass when it wasn't necessary. You know that guy, right? Anthony Weiner, to cite an obvious example. Decades later, Rivera is still engaging in this type of thing, most often over the airwaves. (Audio clip after page break)
Who can forget his response to breaking the news of bin Laden's death in 2011 -- "This is the greatest night of my career!"
A more recent example, from his radio show April 12 ... Geraldo claiming he played a role in the demise of the Soviet Union. No, I'm not kidding. Here's what Rivera said after calling for an end to the US embargo against Cuba (audio) --
RIVERA: Repression and totalitarianism and dictatorship can never stand in the argument against freedom. Freedom always wins, free people always want that, they always want to be free and to have rights. If anything, it unsettles the Cuban government, the repressive communist Cuban government. I detest what they stand for, a lot of what they stand for. I think that they are, you know, Stalinist and old school. Fidel Castro should be on the garbage heap of history, I totally get that. But the way to do it is, get 'em cell phones. Get 'em satellite TV. Let 'em see what America's all about.
I am firmly convinced, I mentioned this to you earlier this morning, that when my talk show went on the air in 1988 in the Soviet Union, before the fall of the Wall, that helped accelerate the process, it was first my talk show and then Joan Rivers joined me on the air in the Soviet Union. Can you imagine ...
WABC RADIO ANNOUNCER NOAM LADEN: How did you even get on there?
RIVERA: Because they were reaching out. They were taking tentative steps and my syndicator, the Tribune Company, reached out to them, they bought the show which was, you know, seen throughout Latin America, it was dubbed in Spanish, it was dubbed in all sorts of different languages, and they dubbed it in Russian. It was shown on Moscow TV and in other places. So here you had it with the advertisements for washing machines and, you know, for new cars and, you know, all of the things that you advertise in a daytime talk show. And I'm sure that the audiences looking at this stuff saying, hmm, I wish I had a washing machine like that. Hmm, I wish I had a color TV like that ...
LADEN: Or a supermarket.
RIVERA: ... or a supermarket! Right. Or this product or that product. I believe that that helped hasten the fall of the Soviet Union and I think the same thing would happen in Cuba and to maintain this preposterous embargo because Cuba is repressive and Cuba has political prisoners, what about China?
Wow, talk about the proverbial rooster taking credit for the sunrise.
Rivera said his show first aired in the Soviet Union in 1988. Here's how Jonathan Dean, writing in the June 1987 issue of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, described what occurred in the years just before Rivera's allegedly seismic debut in Russia -- "In the two years since Mikhail Gorbachev became Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union he had made over 25 major moves, largely unilateral and unreciprocated (emphasis added), toward the U.S. position on arms control, with the United States making relatively few countermoves."
In other words, the slow-motion Soviet surrender was well underway before Rivera showed up, followed in November 1989 with the dam bursting in Berlin and the Soviet Union's formal demise, a Christmas present to the world in 1991.
As for Joan Rivers taking to the airwaves behind the Iron Curtain -- probably delayed the end of the Cold War.
(h/t for audio, Brian Maloney at mrctv.org)