Close watchers of Fox News and Geraldo Rivera — and there are many of us — will never forget the Geraldo Rivera v. Eric Bolling clash over Benghazi. It happened at peak Benghazi furor, just days before the 2012 presidential election and not even two months after the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks.
On the set of “Fox & Friends,” Rivera challenged an often-trafficked view on Fox News that the U.S. military and its bosses in Washington didn’t do everything possible to assist the four U.S. personnel who died that night. “I am convinced that the military did whatever it could have done under the circumstances,” roared the flamboyant newsman. Bolling, a leading conservative voice on Fox News, dissented, insisting that “Washington, the State Department, the CIA does nothing, sends no help.”
Geraldo: “You are a politician looking to make a political point.”
Two chest-beating guys on cable news, slugging it out.
Today a similar scenario played out, only with a different gender dynamic. Rivera appeared on the set of “Outnumbered,” where he battled the show’s four female co-hosts on the story of Bowe Bergdahl, who was released from Taliban captivity last weekend in exchange for five Taliban officials who were being held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
• Ripped the United States for maintaining its detention facility in Cuba just to escape the “impact of the United States Constitution on those prisoners. It was a shyster’s ploy.”
• Said the Taliban and the “Haqqani gangsters” have done just fine in past years without the officials who’d been confined to Gitmo prior to their recent release.
• Did exactly what Rivera commonly does in these situations, which is to pump up his experience doing battlefield reporting: “I’ve been in combat so often with these guys in every branch of the service.”
• Emphasized the ethic that you never, ever leave behind any U.S. service personnel. “One of the things they take great security in is the absolute maxim that if anything happens to them, they are going to be brought home . . . and when you start making the judgment, ‘Oh, this one is this,’ or ‘That one is that’ and you violate or you waver from that hard principle, then our armed forces will be stripped of what is absolutely the thing that makes them most secure.”
The opposing view was most forcefully represented by co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle, who said this:
• “He was pretty lucky that he was brought home the way he was. Because if those special forces had found him and encountered him — and they were looking for him — he would have come home either in a body bag or would have come home and gone straight to jail. But now what we see is his family at the White House, he’s being celebrated as a hero, you have Susan Rice saying that he served with honor and distinction. They have to walk that back because, unfortunately, the evidence is quite alarming.”
• “And Gitmo is not a bad place. . . . What’s so bad about it? They get movies there, Harry Potter books.”