NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News ushered Geraldo Rivera off the air with cake and balloons on Friday, while he left with a timely reminder that his journalism career was a product of affirmative action.
Rivera said that Fox fired him from his regular perch on “The Five,” and that he decided to leave the network as a result.
With his last two appearances on the afternoon political talk show apparently canceled, Rivera received a going-away party on the morning show “Fox & Friends,” where he generally delivered commentary once a week.
“I feel very emotional and deeply moved,” Rivera said following a tribute that included clips from his career and goodbye messages from the likes of Jesse Watters, Bret Baier, Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro.
He also noted — a day after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in higher education — that he got his start in television when the Ford Foundation and Columbia Journalism School teamed to promote minorities in journalism. He had been working with Puerto Rican activist groups in New York.
Rivera had a celebrated stint in local New York television, exposing abuse in the state’s mental health system, and parlayed that into a colorful career as a national talk show host. His tribute poked fun at one infamous stunt when he opened Al Capone’s vault on live TV to find it empty.
Rivera joined Fox following the 2001 terrorist attacks because he wanted to be a war correspondent.
His job as a part-time panelist on “The Five” required him to represent a liberal point of view in political combat with four conservatives.
“Jousting with you has been a privilege,” Watters said on the filmed tribute Friday. “You always brought your ‘A’ game.”
His battles with panelist Greg Gutfeld, who Rivera once called arrogant and an “insulting punk” on the air, grew increasingly personal. With “The Five” becoming Fox’s top-rated show, conservative panelists and rising stars Gutfeld and Watters have parlayed it into their own prime-time programs on the network schedule.
Unlike colleagues Watters and Pirro, Gutfeld didn’t deliver a filmed goodbye to Rivera on Friday.
Rivera, who said he was briefly suspended from “The Five” shortly after he profanely criticized some of fired prime-time host Tucker Carlson’s theories, told The Associated Press last week that he had decided to quit the show because of tensions there.
It was not entirely clear what had changed to make Rivera say, both on the air Friday and on Twitter, that he had been fired from the show. Fox said in a statement that “we reached an amicable conclusion with Geraldo over the past few weeks,” and a spokeswoman had no further comment.
Rivera, due to turn 80 on the Fourth of July, is not characterizing his exit from Fox as a retirement.
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