Bette Midler stoked anticipation for her birthday via Twitter on Thursday by speaking out on her claim from more than 20 years ago that Geraldo Rivera groped her.
On Wednesday, Rivera tweeted in support of former Today anchor Matt Lauer after he was accused of sexual misconduct, calling news a “flirty” business (comments Rivera has since apologized for). Following those tweets, reporter Yashar Ali resurfaced a clip of Midler speaking with Barbara Walters from decades ago. In it, she claimed Rivera and an unnamed producer assaulted her when she was set to do an interview with him in the ’70s.
“This was when [Rivera] was very, sort of, hot,” she explained. “And he and his producer left the crew in the other room, they pushed me into my bathroom, they broke two poppers and pushed them under my nose and proceeded to grope me.” When Walters asked her to clarify, Midler elaborated — “Groped me. I did not offer myself up on the altar of Geraldo Rivera. He was… he was unseemly.”
On Thursday, Midler officially commented on her old comments, in light of the clip going viral online.
“Tomorrow is my birthday,” she tweeted. “I feel like this video was a gift from the universe to me. Geraldo may have apologized for his tweets supporting Matt Lauer, but he has yet to apologize for this. #MeToo”
Rivera has not yet commented on the video but did address the encounter in his 1991 memoir, Exposing Myself. “We were in the bathroom, preparing for the interview, and at some point I put my hands on her breasts,” he wrote, according to a 1991 review published by the Washington Post
In an interview with the Post for the review, Rivera said, “I went to bed with a lot of people in my life. With all the private people, their names were either changed or they were used with their permission. With the public people, like Bette Midler and Margaret Trudeau and Marian Javits, they live their lives on the public stage, and much worse things have been written about them. I don’t think it’s that slanderous a statement to say that somebody made love to me 15 years ago.”