When many Yale students envision Geraldo Rivera, they still see him dodging blows on his syndicated talk show.
But while Rivera commented briefly on his past experiences as a television personality at Wednesday’s Calhoun College Master’s Tea, he spoke mainly as an expert on current U.S. international affairs.
Rivera presented his reaction to the campaign against Afghanistan to a small group of students gathered in Calhoun Master William Sledge’s living room. He discussed topics ranging from the Sept. 11 attacks themselves to the cultural, political and economic conditions responsible for the current state of U.S. foreign relations.
Rivera recently surprised the media world by terminating a five-year stint as the host of CNBC’s highly rated “Rivera Live” in order to join Fox Network’s news team as a war correspondent in Afghanistan.
“This is a big life change for me and in some ways a regression to give up an anchor desk and go back to field reporting,” Rivera said, “But after Sept. 11, I couldn’t bear to stay in the studio.”
Demonstrating what Sledge referred to as Rivera’s brand of “advocacy journalism”, Rivera spoke at length regarding his personal estimation of the causes and effects of recent terrorist activity. He boldly labeled the Sept. 11 attacks “the worst single crime in human history,” unequivocally supporting a “dogged” and relentless pursuit of Osama bin Laden by the United States.
“We’ve got the drivers of the getaway car; now we need to get the shooter,” said Rivera of the recent struggle against the Taliban and chase of bin Laden.
Rivera is scheduled to leave for Afghanistan Saturday. Though student questions regarding Rivera’s overseas reporting strategies abounded, he stressed the flexibility of his current journalistic tactics.
“I have almost no specific plans for what I’m going to do once I reach Afghanistan. Every day the situation changes as far as what the action is and how I could best approach it,” Rivera said. “I’m going to tell you what I’m feeling when I’m feeling it. I can tell you that I want to get as close as possible to those actively pursuing the murderer — that’s the story.”
Andrew Arons ’05 said Rivera’s comments on the diversity of his past career and his current aims and opinions as a newsman shed a new and surprising light on a much discussed television icon.
“Rivera was extremely articulate and well-informed, which I never would have expected from his fame as a talk show host. What really got me though, beyond his political expertise, was his obvious passion about Sept. 11,” Arons said. “I’m impressed that he gave up a lucrative TV show to put himself in danger in Afghanistan. That shows real commitment.”
Rivera’s closing remarks centered on the changes that American society has already witnessed and can expect to encounter in response to terrorist activity. He cited the emerging challenge of balancing the rights of all Americans against the nation’s safety and urged citizens not to submit to the fear and helplessness that terrorists primarily aim at provoking. Rivera commended Americans on their reaction of involvement and awareness to date.
“We’ve become a much more serious nation,” he said.
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