(JTA) — Television host Geraldo Rivera apologized to Bette Midler for an incident in which she says he groped her.
“Although I recall the time @BetteMidler has alluded to much differently than she, that does not change the fact that she has a right to speak out & demand an apology from me, for in the very least, publically [sic] embarrassing her all those years ago. Bette, I apologize,” Rivera tweeted on Friday.
Rivera also tweeted: “27 years ago I wrote a tawdry book depicting consensual events in 1973-45 years ago-I’ve deeply regretted its distasteful & disrespectful tone & have refrained from speaking about it-I’m embarrassed & profoundly sorry to those mentioned-I have & again apologize to anyone offended.”
On Thursday, Midler tweeted a video clip of a 1991 interview in which she told Barbara Walters that Rivera violently assaulted her the first time they met.
Earlier that year, Rivera published an autobiography called “Exposing Myself” in which he claimed to have had — in the words of Walters — a “torrid” sexual affair with Midler when she was a rising star in the early 1970s.
Midler, however, explained to Walters that she has a different recollection of their relations. Midler claims Rivera and his producer pushed her into a bathroom, broke two “poppers” (inhalant alkyl nitrate drugs), pushed them under her nose and proceeded to grope her.
Last week, Rivera tweeted a defense of Matt Lauer, the former host of the Today show whom NBC News fired for inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace. Rivera said, “News is a flirty business & it seems like current epidemic of #SexHarassmentAllegations may be criminalizing courtship & conflating it w predation.” He later apologized for that tweet. Fox News also distanced itself from Rivera’s tweets.
Rivera, who hosted multiple tabloid-style talk shows for decades and is now a contributor on Fox News, is the son of a Puerto Rican father and a Jewish mother. He had a bar mitzvah.
Midler — the recipient of numerous awards, including Grammys, Tonys, Golden Globes and Emmys — grew up in a Jewish family in Hawaii.