One day before the presidential election last year, Geraldo Rivera and pro baseball player turned conservative commentator Eric Bolling got into a shouting match on morning comedy kaffeeklatsch, Fox & Friends. The subject of the argument was the then-recent Benghazi attack. Rivera took issue with Bolling's claim that the government and the military did "nothing" in response to the siege of the U.S. consulate, firing back that Bolling was "a politician trying to make a political point," and the two went on from there.
As Rivera and Bolling's argument was winding down, there was a noticeable change in Rivera's microphone volume compared with the others onscreen (you can hear the change at about 7:12 in the video below). According to Jonathan Alter's The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies, a new book covered in yesterday's New York Times, Rivera's mic went down not because of any technical problems, but because Fox News head Roger Ailes demanded it go down.
“Roger Ailes covered the Benghazi story as if it were Watergate just before Nixon’s resignation, with almost wall-to-wall coverage,” Mr. Alter writes before describing Mr. Rivera as the only Fox anchor who was “allowed to offer a dissenting view.”
Mr. Rivera did so on the conservative morning show “Fox & Friends” on Nov. 2, the Friday before Election Day. As the three hosts criticized the administration for failing to save the ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans who died in Benghazi, Mr. Rivera protested. He accused the co-host Eric Bolling of lying, calling him “a politician trying to make a political point.”
“After the argument continued for several minutes, Ailes called the control room and told the producers to cut Rivera’s mic,” Mr. Alter writes.
Today Mediaite reports that Alter is wrong, and that a Fox spokesperson says the man who actually ordered Rivera's mic to be cut was Fox's Executive Vice President of Programming, Bill Shine. However, Rivera himself contradicted both versions of the story today by tweeting that nobody ordered his mic to be cut at all, though he apparently still has animosity toward Bolling:
Contrary to published accounts no one at Fox News ever either cut my mic or told me what to say But I do advocate cutting Eric Bolling's mic— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) May 6, 2013
You can watch the clip and decide for yourself, though, to be fair to Fox News, it would appear as if Rivera is allowed to make his case for quite some time before anyone decided to censor him—if indeed that happened. If anything, after nearly eight minutes of blowhards screaming at each other, everyone's mic should have been cut for producing horrible, self-indulgent television.