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Jewish World Review Dec. 21, 2001 / 6 Teves, 5762

Phil Perrier

Phil Perrier
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Consumer Reports

SAY IT AIN'T SO, GERALDO! -- ACCORDING to the Baltimore Sun, Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera was actually hundreds of miles from the site of a friendly fire incident on which he reported.

Dec. 6 Rivera took to the air waves from Afghanistan, saying that he became choked up and recited the Lord's Prayer while standing on "hallowed ground" in the area of the mishap. He later admitted being nowhere near the area at the time. In his defense, Geraldo said he confused the incident outside Kandahar with another friendly fire accident in Tora Bora. Though, according to the Sun, Pentagon information shows the Tora Bora incident occurred at least three days after Dec. 6.

All of which raises the ugly spectre that Geraldo Rivera may be guilty of sensationalism.

Naturally, if true, this revilation could tarnish Rivera's image as the Edward R. Murrow of the New Millennium. In college journalism programs across America fresh faced young people dream of someday pursuing their own selfless quest for truth with half the dignity of Geraldo.

Many of today's budding reporters are too young to recall Rivera's early triumphs. America asked what was inside Al Capone's vault; and Geraldo told us.

When it turned out that empty bottles and cigarette butts were all the vault contained, we collectively breathed a sigh of relief and thanked Geraldo for putting us at ease.

Who can't remember where they were the day Geraldo got hit in the face with a chair by an angry Nazi skinhead? For a few uncomfortable hours we all held our breath, fearing that Geraldo might lose his famous nose.

It came as no surprise when Geraldo volunteered for the dangerous duty of covering the war in Afghanistan. After all, he once wore a bandana and bought drugs from real crack dealers.

Soon after arriving in country, Geraldo let it be known that he was carrying a gun and if he encountered Osama bin Laden (perhaps at the bar in the Kandahar Hilton) he would not hesitate to shoot him. Hearing of this, bin Laden reportedly told aides that if he encountered Rivera he would gladly shoot himself.

Knowing that Geraldo is armed and stalking bin Laden must come as quite a moral booster for our troops. Special Forces may be well trained but nothing is as ruthless a killing machine as a middle-aged tv personality coming off a nasty divorce.

Bin Laden may have slipped out of the noose for the moment but nothing will stop Geraldo; not land mines, not Al-Qaido fighters, not even Dan Rather with a high powered rifle.

So what if he was a few hundred miles from the site of a story. Afghanistan is just one big gravel parking lot. What is the purpose of those live-in-the-field reports anyway? It's always just some weeny standing in the dark on the roof of his hotel; and making a big deal, saying "Reporting live from Afghanistan." They could be on the roof of the Super 8 in Akron Ohio for all we know.

America needs Geraldo. More importantly, we deserve Geraldo.

JWR contributor Phil Perrier is a Los Angeles-based writer and stand-up comic. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, Phil Perrier