Last month, Fox News disputed a contention in Jonathan Alter’s new book, “The Center Holds: Obama and his Enemies,” about a landmark moment in network history. It was Nov. 2, on the set of morning show “Fox & Friends.” Fox’s Geraldo Rivera and Fox’s Eric Bolling clashed over Benghazi. After Bolling bashed the government’s handling of the crisis, Rivera famously said: “That is an obscene lie!…You are a politician looking to make a political point.”
Alter alleged that the debate drew interest at the very top level of Fox News. From his book: “After the argument continued for several minutes, [Fox News chief Roger] Ailes called the control room and told the producers to cut Rivera’s mic.”
That tidbit surfaced in early May, via the New York Times, and it drew an airtight denial from Rivera. On his radio show, he said: “I hear some noise about people cutting off my microphone. That never happened.”
The denial spread across platforms:
Contrary to published accounts no one at Fox News ever either cut my mic or told me what to say But I do advocate cutting Eric Bolling’s mic
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) May 6, 2013
Here’s the question from Alter: Why didn’t Rivera deny the report when I asked him about it? In a Jan. 3 e-mail, Alter put the whole scenario before the Rivera camp at Fox News:
Happy New Year. I’m writing a book about the last two years in our national life. It’s called “The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies.” I was told by a very good source from inside Fox that Geraldo’s mike was cut at the end of a Fox and Friends segment on Benghazi. If you watch the tape, you can hear his mike go. His last comments are picked up by one of the host’s mikes. I heard further that Roger Ailes called and said he’d heard enough from Geraldo for one morning and told them to cut the mike.
I’ve known Geraldo for years–I went on his CNBC program probably 30 times in the 1990s. He has always been a straight shooter. Is this true?
I don’t need Geraldo on the record confirming it. I plan on just stating it as part of the narrative. But if it is untrue, please tell me. If I don’t hear from you, I plan on using the incident.
The response? “sorry, can’t comment.”
Fox News ultimately denied that Ailes had called for the mic cut-off, claiming instead that a top programming official had merely urged that the show “move on because the segment had come to its conclusion.”
UPDATE 2:15 6/10: The Geraldo camp has finally gotten back to me concerning my inquiry about this: “we still have no comment,” says an assistant to Rivera in an e-mail. This no-comment comes weeks after Rivera himself commented extensively.