'Yup, #MeToo': Bette Midler's assault allegations against TV host resurface

A video in which American actress Bette Midler alleges that TV reporter Geraldo Rivera "groped" her in the 1970s has resurfaced, following comments made by Rivera in defence of former Today co-host Matt Lauer.

Lauer was sacked earlier this week after a complaint was made against him for "inappropriate sexual conduct in the workplace".

In a 1991 interview, journalist Barbara Walters asks Midler about claims made by Rivera in his memoir that the pair had a "torrid sexual affair".

Midler initially laughs off the claim, wryly telling Walters that Rivera had granted her some sexual appeal at a time in her life when she was being billed as a "little old lady type".

"The truth about it was that I didn't remember," she says.

"One thing I did remember - and that was how I met Geraldo, and that was not funny."

At first Midler is reluctant to give her account in front of the camera, telling Walters, "No I'd better not, I'm going to get in trouble."

But after Walters presses the issue, Midler recounts how she met Rivera, in which she alleges that he and one of his producers sexually assaulted her in her home during the early 1970s.

"Geraldo and his producer came to do an interview with me, in the '70s, the early '70s," she says.

"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."

"I did not offer myself up on the altar of Geraldo Rivera. He was unseemly... his behaviour was unseemly."

The term "poppers" which Midler uses is slang for the recreational drug amyl nitrite.

Though allegations of this nature frequently make headlines today, when the interview aired more than 20 years ago Midler's claims didn't receive much attention.

In fact, the video is a disturbing sign of the times, with Midler telling Walters of a friend's clueless response to the allegations before the pair chuckle and quickly move on.

"And my friend says, 'Oh what a charmer, of course you slept with him after that!'"

In Rivera's 1991 memoir, Exposing Myself, he gives a crude account of what he claims to be his "brief and torrid affair" with Midler, including the incident in question.

"She had great tits and personality to match," he wrote.

"We were in the bathroom, preparing for the interview, and at some point I put my hands on her breasts. She loved it, and we fell into a passionate embrace, which segued immediately into a brief and torrid affair."

"Bette had an enormous sexual appetite in those days."

Rivera, 74, came under fire on Wednesday after he tweeted his sympathy for Matt Lauer, suggesting that the "current epidemic" of sexual harassment claims could be "criminalising courtship".

Following backlash on social media, Rivera apologised for his sentiments in a tweet on Thursday.

Midler, 71, took to the platform on Friday to say that she had not yet received an apology from Rivera.

"Geraldo may have apologised for his tweets supporting Matt Lauer, but he has yet to apologise for this. #MeToo," she wrote.

This story 'Yup, #MeToo': Bette Midler's assault allegations against TV host resurface first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.