NEW YORK — Geraldo Rivera has quit as one of the lonely liberal voices on Fox News’ popular political combat show “The Five,” saying Wednesday that “a growing tension that goes beyond editorial differences” made it no longer worth it to him.
The last scheduled appearance on “The Five” for the television veteran, whose 80th birthday is on July 4, is next week.
“It has been a rocky ride but it has also been an exhilarating adventure that spanned quite a few years,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday. “I hope it’s not my last adventure.”
Rivera said that it was his choice to leave “The Five,” but that Fox management “didn’t race after me to say, ‘Geraldo, please come back.’” There was no immediate comment from Fox.
Despite airing in the late afternoon instead of prime time, “The Five” has become Fox’s most-watched program, with an average of more than 3 million viewers last year. Its conceit is simple — five people, four of them conservative and one liberal — kick around the issues of the day.
Greg Gutfeld, Jesse Watters, Dana Perino and Jeanine Pirro are the regular conservatives. Rivera has rotated as the liberal voice with Jessica Tarlov and Harold Ford Jr., a former congressman from Tennessee.
Rivera said he planned to remain as a “correspondent at large” at Fox, with a contract that expires in January 2025.
He said he’d been suspended a handful of times, most recently in early May. He had tweeted shortly after Fox fired Tucker Carlson on April 24 that he found Carlson’s theories about the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection to be “bullshit,” leading Gutfeld to respond via tweet, “You’re a class act Geraldo, a real man of the people.” Carlson had downplayed the violence on Jan. 6, calling people who invaded the Capitol “sightseers.”
Rivera and Gutfeld had a handful of particularly contentious exchanges. In late April, Rivera told him “stop pointing at me” when they argued over electric vehicles. He called Gutfeld “an arrogant punk” on the air last year during a fight about abortion.
Rivera would not comment directly about Gutfeld.
“There has been a growing tension that goes beyond editorial differences and personal annoyances and gripes,” he said. “It’s not worth it to me.”
Rivera, once a friend of Donald Trump who split with him over the former president’s false claims of winning the 2020 election, said that “under no circumstances do I think Donald Trump should be president of the United States again and that’s an important message I am committed to bringing to the American people between now and November 2024.”
Although “The Five” and its large viewership would seem a prominent place for him to deliver that message, he said “you can imagine the friction that role by definition” would provoke.
“I’m 80 years old,” he said. “I don’t want the friction. ‘The Five’ is too intimate a place and it gets too personal.”
The argument over electric vehicles illustrated the challenge faced the liberal voice on “The Five.” As he talked, onscreen chyrons below him read “Biden pushing pricey electric cars on Americans” and “Americans not buying Biden’s EV hype.”
Rivera had a colorful syndicated talk show that aired from 1987 to 1998, and hosted an evening news and interview show at CNBC in the late 1990s. He was brought to Fox shortly by then-chairman Roger Ailes after the September 2001 to be a war correspondent at first and has remained. On Wednesday he expressed some regret, in retrospect, for not leaving the network after the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011.
He said his relationship with his colleagues on “The Five” is “a reflection of what the country is going through. … It’s not an easy job if you take it as personally as I do.”
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