Bette Midler calls out Geraldo Rivera, her alleged assaulter, for defending Matt Lauer

This combination photo shows Geraldo Rivera at "The Celebrity Apprentice" panel at the NBC 2015 Winter TCA in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 16, 2015, left, and Bette Midler at the 15th Annual Movies for Grownups Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Feb. 8, 2016. (Photo by Richard Shotwell, left, and Rich Fury/Invision/AP, File)

Superstar Bette Midler slammed her accused sexual assaulter, Geraldo Rivera, after he called Matt Lauer a “great guy” and “highly skilled” after reports of sexual misconduct.

Rivera, a former TV host and Fox News correspondent, was defending Lauer, who was fired from NBC after the reports of inappropriate behaviour became public.

“Sad about @MLauer great guy, highly skilled & empathetic w guests & a real gentleman to my family & me. News is a flirty business & it seems like current epidemic of #SexHarassmentAllegations may be criminalizing courtship & conflating it w predation,” Rivera tweeted on Wednesday.

He also tweeted about his thoughts on what he thinks sexual harassment allegations should require (including a five-year time limit for reporting and evidence) and that he thinks victims are motivated by money.

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Later on, he apologized saying he did believe “this is a horrendous problem long hidden,” and “harassers are deviants who deserve what is coming to them.”

But that’s not enough for Bette Midler.

In a tweet, she called Rivera out for not apologizing for the time he allegedly assaulted her over four decades ago.

“Geraldo may have apologized for his tweets supporting Matt Lauer, but he has yet to apologize for this,” she said, linking to a video interview.

Rivera claimed in a book that he and Midler had sexual relations, but Midler denied that in the 26-year-old interview with Barbara Walters.

“I did not offer myself up on the altar of Geraldo Rivera,” she said in the video.

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She said in the video that Rivera and a producer pushed her into a bathroom and drugged and groped her.

“I’ll tell you the truth, if I had known 20 years later he was going to end up a slimy talk show host I never would have even let him in the room,” she said. “I mean you have no way of knowing that these things are going to come back to haunt you.”

She also tweeted “Me too,” in support of sexual harassment victims around the world, and started gaining traction after ex-Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was revealed to be exerting inappropriate behaviour on women who wanted to appear in his films.

The campaign is to show the magnitude of the sexual harassment problem – thousands of women and men have since shared their experiences.

Responding to Geraldo’s tweets, Fox News Channel issued a statement Wednesday, saying, “Geraldo’s tweets do not reflect the views of Fox News or its management. We were troubled by his comments and are addressing them with him.”

Fox has dismissed two high-profile men over sexual misconduct allegations involving their behaviour while at the news channel, host Bill O’Reilly in April and CEO Roger Ailes, who was fired in 2016 and died earlier this year.

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*with files from the Associated Press

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