4.06.2007

Geraldo Rivera the Advocate is Back!

I've always liked Geraldo Rivera. Yes, he's been known to go over the top in a number of instances, but who in television hasn't?

The truth is that what Geraldo did as a young crusading reporter exposing the horrors at Willowbrook changed everything. His fearless pursuit of truth literally brought down the walls of institutionalized imprisonment and abuse of the mentally ill--and he gave new meaning to the news exposé. Few of the country's glorified 'news' reporters can claim as much.

But Geraldo at heart is an advocate and not a news reporter. Standard television has never really suited him--and trying to do it like the others has only caused him trouble. He's too passionate, too gutsy and too honest. The advocate in him doesn't allow him to adopt the aloofness and pretentiousness Americans prefer in their 'news' anchors.

But in the heated exchange recently with FOXNews bloviator Bill O'Reilly, we saw a glimpse of the Geraldo of lore. They argued over whether the tragic deaths of two young women by a drunk driver in Virginia Beach is about drunk driving or about illegal immigration. O'Reilly argues that it is and Geraldo argues that it's not.

I think Geraldo is right. The tragedy was caused by a fellow who got behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated and caused a horrendous loss. Unfortunately, that same type of tragedy happened some 350 times in Virginia last year--and few were caused by people with Spanish surnames.

Actually, large numbers of innocent women and children are slaughtered every year in Virginia and across the country and most are caused by drunk middle-age, suburban, white guys--many with numerous DUI citations. Bu O'Reilly & Company are not ranting on about that endless wave of criminality and human tragedy.

Geraldo's right that turning every tragedy involving "unauthorized" immigrants into an anti-immigrant bashing orgy is sinful.

(BTW: Notice how O'Reilly's reaction when Geraldo says that it would be a nightmare losing a daughter to any drunk driver--be they a Jewish drunk, a Polish drunk, an Irish drunk or an Italian drunk. I could be wrong, but it seems that O'Reilly wigs out right after Geraldo utters Irish drunk. Those words, so often used to degrade Irish immigrants, have clearly left an enduring mark. Just as the words 'illegal alien' are today dehumanizing and degrading Latino immigrant workers.)