For some reason, Geraldo Rivera got it in his head that he could make a fair defense of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson by comparing him to Alec Baldwin‘s infamous berating of a paparazzo as a "c*cksucking f*gg*t." Rivera even wrote an article for FoxNews.com that actually calls the actions of both men "benign" and described them as "sitting ducks" for "fundamentalist gay advocacy" - while insisting that he’s for gay rights himself. But not to worry. If Rivera’s double speak bothers you, he made it crystal clear which side of the fence he’s on during appearances on both the Hannity show and Fox & Friends.
In his article, classily entitled, “A Tale of Two Sitting Ducks,” Rivera writes:
My defense of Phil Robertson starts with Alec Baldwin. While they come from different galaxies, both the fallen star of ‘Duck Dynasty’ and the explosive brawler of ‘Saturday Night Live’, ‘30 Rock’ and the movies have fallen afoul of what Baldwin correctly labels “the fundamentalist wing of gay advocacy.”
Leading the charge against Baldwin was prominent gay blogger Andrew Sullivan, who called Baldwin “a raging, violent bigot” and Rich Ferraro, spokesman for GLAAD, the principal, long-time, gay, anti-defamation fighters, and the target also of Baldwin’s accusation. “You’ve got the fundamentalist wing of gay advocacy — Rich Ferraro and Andrew Sullivan — they’re out there, they’ve got you,” Baldwin told a magazine. “Rich Ferraro, this is probably one of his greatest triumphs. They killed my show. And I have to take some responsibility for that myself.”
Wait, did Geraldo just debunk the Breitbart-founded meme that GLAAD “brushed off” Baldwin, but is going into overdrive “pouncing on” Robertson? I think so. But before you can worry about another GOP Civil War, Rivera concludes his piece with this nice little passage:
Like I told my right-wing friend and colleague Sean Hannity Thursday night on his show, I voted for Obama because he was the candidate most likely to honor gay marriage. Liberal Baldwin has been one of the most consistently pro-gay public figures around. The blurted crazy talk from Baldwin and Robertson was benign and said with sincerity. Theirs had none of the mean-spirited creepiness of Martin Bashir’s defecation-laced tirade directed at former governor Sarah Palin. GLAAD doesn’t do itself any favors attacking Phil Robertson. He’s a beloved figure who got hoodwinked by a clever reporter, who allowed Phil to be himself.
Translation: I support the LBGT community, but hate against them is all in good fun. Hoo boy… Let’s go to the video tape. During the Hannity panel, Sean began his typical bullyboy routine to tell guest Rachel Sklar that she has a double standard regarding this kind of conduct. Rivera jumped in with this comment:
I don’t think that all insults are created equal, and I don’t think that all insulters, or politically correct people are equal. I think that Joe Biden gets cut a lot of slack, because it’s Joe… He has a capacity of uttering absolutely outrageous acomments, and you just sigh because you know that he doesn’t mean it. The same with this fellow from Duck Dynasty. How in the world can people invest so much stock in "Oh, look what he said?" This is the guy from Duck Dynasty, this is not somebody who’s a senator, proposing that Louisiana segregate the races again. This is a guy on Duck Dynasty, he makes duck calls for a living! He believes firmly in the bible, this fundamentalist vision of the way he sees the world. And I have to say, you talk about fundamentalism in terms of Christianity, I think that Alec Baldwin, for instance, was drummed off MSNBC by fundamentalist gay activists. I think it was fundamentalism in both sides.
Later, this exchange ensued (transcript via Media Matters):
SKLAR: When I heard about what Alec Baldwin - Alec Baldwin had a history of making these homophobic slurs.
RIVERA: That wasn’t a homophobic slur.
RIVERA: I mean if you grew up where we grew up—
SKYLAR: And yet he is no longer on the network, right?
RIVERA: Sean, Baldwin and I all grew up within ten miles of each other and when we were growing up, in my year especially, those comments were commonplace.
SKLAR: Things have changed, Geraldo.
RIVERA: You have to give people some slack.
So, Rivera’s narrative went from, “You should give some people slack, regardless of their politics because they’re known for saying stupid things”… to “What Baldwin said wasn’t a slur in the first place?”
Apparently, Rivera’s “be tolerant of intolerance” message was popular with Fox News brass because they also booked him on Fox & Friends earlier that same day. There, he compared Robertson to Honey Boo-Boo.
I want to say it’s ridiculous to suspend him over his remarks. He’s the Duck Dynasty guy. It’s not like he’s teaching a public school in New York. …Now Honey Boo-Boo, is she gonna get thrown off for talking about fat people? I mean it’s ridiculous! This is political correctness that’s gotten malignant.
… My fear is, as a person who has embraced, for my entire adult life, the evolution of gay rights and same sex marriage, my fear is by victimizing or targeting people like Robertson, What you do, is you dilute the main message. The message of tolerance, the message of ok, maybe this man is misguided, but we are gradually wearing down resistance to our point of view, we’re making the world more tolerant. It is intolerant to go after him for intolerance in a way that wrecks his life, and maybe wrecks the show.
OK, I’m done entertaining Rivera’s mealy-mouth efforts to have it both ways on Robertson’s gay comments.
But I’m also tired of waiting for Rivera to bring up Robertson’s racial and religious bigotry. In case you missed it, in the same interview as the homophobic comments, Robertson also spouted that black people were happier back in the Jim Crow days, and he likened non-Christian religions to the Nazis.
If Rivera’s going to defend what was said as “just the views of the guy from Duck Dynasty,“ let’s see him defend all of it.
Videos below from December 19, 2013 Hannity and Fox & Friends shows.