From the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to the frontlines of Afghanistan, Geraldo Rivera has been at the forefront of TV journalism. Yesterday the former host of Rivera Live made an appearance at a Calhoun College Master’s Tea to discuss the situation in Iraq and what he thinks the United States can do.
Rivera, who made several trips to Afghanistan and Iraq as a reporter for FOX News, spoke to about 50 audience members about foreign policy, the media’s coverage of the war, and U.S. armed forces.
It would be best for the United States to stay in Iraq and quell the current insurrections, Rivera said.
“Pulling out is a recipe for disaster that will put American foreign policy back a generation as well as untold suffering in Iraq,” he said.
Though Rivera described the current situation as both dangerous and sensitive, he urged people not to politicize the events. River prescribed unity among Americans and asked that everyone show their support for soldiers in Iraq.
“We can’t let the domestic debate infect the spirit of the American soldier,” Rivera said. “Their life is arduous in every way you can imagine. When you see a soldier, just say, ‘Thank you man.’”
Rivera showed the audience a clip of his visit to Iraq in which he and his crew were shot at while driving near the Sunni Triangle on Feb. 28. During the attack, the cars were riddled with several bullet holes and Rivera’s driver was shot through the shoulder.
“I have to tell you this was an incident that really shook us,” Rivera said. “This represented what was the situation worst of Iraq a month ago.”
Despite the grim footage and the sense of danger, Rivera criticized recent news coverage for being “much too grim.” Reporters have not adequately covered the positive strides in Iraq, including the beginnings of a popular democracy and an increased standard of living, he said.
“What you don’t see is that there has been amazing progress made by Ambassador Bremmer and the Iraqi governing council,” Rivera said. “Lives are rapidly improving, and in a sense [one can see] the evolution of the beginnings of a civil society in Iraq.”
But that progress took a sharp turn this past weekend, he said. Muqtada al-Sadr, who is leading a large-scale military group, is encouraging Shiites, who represent 65 percent of the Iraqi population, to join in the uprisings.
“We are facing the harsh but realistic possibility that Iraq will be dissolving into civil war,” Rivera said.
Marcos Luis ’07 said he was impressed by Rivera’s opinions as well as his overall presentation.
“It was interesting and informative,” Luis said. “He has a colorful personality and it drew a lot of people here.”
Calhoun Master William Sledge said he was impressed with Rivera’s willingness to cover stories on the frontline.
“I think what he does is heroic,” Sledge said. “He puts himself in harm’s way, and has a passionate commitment to the ideals of democracy and freedom.”