Geraldo Rivera Goes to War

Published November 13, 2001

| FoxNews.com

This partial transcript of War on Terror: The Hunt for the Killers, November 9, 2001, was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERALDO RIVERA:  I am not the same guy I was before the maniacs tried to tear our hearts out.  And I'm feeling more patriotic than at any time in my life.  I'm itching for justice or maybe just revenge.  And this catharsis I've gone through has caused me to reassess what I do for a living...

I'm a reporter, and this fight against terror is the biggest story of our times.  And as much as I love this job — and I love this job — I can't stay anchored to this desk any longer.  So I'm leaving.  Friday the 16th of November, will be my last program.  After that, next time you see me, I'll be working as a war correspondent for another network.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 SMITH:  This network. Geraldo Rivera joining The Hunt for the Killers on Fox News Channel. He hosted the highest rated show in primetime on CNBC making who knows how many millions of dollars. So why leave that cushy anchor job for a bunker in Afghanistan?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RIVERA:  I was born in New York.  I was brought up here.  My kids were born here.  And what happened on September 11th shook me to my core.  It really changed me as a person, you know.  I could say that a million times, and it doesn't begin to match the reality of what, you know, psychically I've gone through.

My kids lost 15 parents in their elementary school, 15 parents that day, 70 in this little New Jersey neighborhood where we came from.  It was just so personal to be attacked that way, to be invaded by a foreign force, to be knifed in the back, all those, you know, thousands of innocent men, women and children.  And for me to be anchored to that desk, to be chained to that desk — I just couldn't abide it.

SMITH:  So now you're going over there?  What are you going to do for us over there?

RIVERA:  Well, you know, you got Steve Harrigan, terrific correspondent, up north.  Amy Kellogg's doing a great job out of Islamabad and Pakistan.

SMITH:  Where are you going?

RIVERA:  I'm going to go wherever the action is.  That's what I'm trying to convince, you know, all of our guys, our allies also that, you know, take our camera to the front.  We haven't seen your courage.  We see you parade around.  I'm talking about the Northern Alliance now.  We see, you know, your tanks all brushed up, and now, let's go see you guys in action.  You know, that's what I did in Kosovo.  It was a very similar situation in Kosovo.  I went behind the Serb lines with our allies, the KLA, a Muslim army, our allies, Muslims, is a good point to make, and as the American air forces were bombing them.  And I see this as a parallel situation.

The KLA gradually grew in confidence.  They were taking great risks. They were unarmed.  They were virtually outgunned against the Serb army, much more heavily armored, and yet they fought with courage and tenacity.  That's what the Northern Alliance has done, hanging on by their fingernails.  And now here we come finally giving them the logistical and heavy weapons support that they need.  And I fully expect that the Taliban, this outlaw regime, this racist, sexist, anti-American harbor of terrorists, this regime is going to fall.

SMITH:  This is an easy conflict to sides with.

RIVERA:  It is an easy one.  Sometimes there's only — you know, Edward R. Murrow said on some stories, there is no other side, and this is one of them.

SMITH:  Yeah, you're one who's been accused certainly by a lot of our viewers having taken sides before, certainly during the Clinton controversy, during a lot that you've done.  You've been an advocate many times.  If you had any of that to do over, would you do it the same way?

RIVERA:  Well, that's a great question. You know, in the post-impeachment era, watching President Clinton, he never, for instance, gave me an interview, you know, after all putting so much on the line for Bill and...

SMITH:  You were out there for him.

RIVERA:  I really was.  I understand your viewers' wrath that there's one journalist who really helped save Bill Clinton's behind, it was me.  I don't regret it.  When push comes to shove, he was a liar, a perjurer, but he was basically an adulterer.  I think he had a character flaw.  He may still.  But that's basically what it was about.  Had he been guilty of peddling nuclear secrets or doing something more blatant, something more profoundly affecting the well being of the republic, I would have been on the same side as the majority of my colleagues in the fourth estate.

SMITH:  What do you think of "Fair and Balanced?"

RIVERA:  What do I think?  I think "Fair and Balanced" is fabulous.  And what I said about your show when I started this interview is absolutely true.  We're all great fans.  And I think that what has happened at Fox News under the leadership of Roger Ailes, who's been quite dynamic, it's the energy that I love.  I love the fact that you're kicking the butt of the other cable news networks.  And, you know, I'm going to be proud to be working here.  I just ask the viewers ideologically speaking, just give me a couple of weeks on the ground, and you'll see that we have more in common than we have dissimilar.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Steve, explain once again who is shooting at whom behind you.

STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX CORRESPONDENT:  I tell you, their positions are about a mile -- will you get down over there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Steve, is it safe for you to be there right now or do you need to stop talking to us and move?

HARRIGAN:  No.  I think we're going to shut down now.  We'll be back up in an hour.  But everyone here is fine.  There's been some shelling probably about 500 meters away.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SMITH:  The Harrigan in Afghanistan.  What the heck you want to do that for?

RIVERA:  That's what we do for a living.  I've covered every war.  Between the two of us, we've covered — this is my brother, Craig Rivera.  Here he is.

SMITH:  Who's going to be his producer.

RIVERA:  Younger, taller, better looking brother.

SMITH:  May know him from some other news broadcast.  Craig is going to be his producer for a while.  And I don't know, he may show up on air now and then.  Who knows?  But it's not like you have hotel reservations over there already.

RIVERA:  No.  My 7-year-old and my 9-year-old were debating that.  And finally, my 9-year-old said, "They're going to have their own cave."

(LAUGHTER)

I was saying between the two of us, we have covered every major conflict on the planet since 1973, everything.  Everything from the Yom Kippur war, the coup in Chile.  He was in Mogadishu, you know, Black Hawk Down, that whole thing, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt when Israel — when General Sharon crossed Suez, every conflict.  And this is the biggest story of our time.  This is the one that really counts, because they attacked us.  That's what makes it different.

SMITH:  All the stuff that he's done on that is on the Web site at foxnews.com.  I look around, I can't find another American reporter who has more experience doing this sort of thing than you.

RIVERA:  I don't think any as old as me.

SMITH:  I don't think there is one.

CRAIG RIVERA:  Someone gave me a book called Dangerous Places, and I looked for the book, and I was like, check, check, check, been to most of those places.  So this is just the next step in that direction.

SMITH:  What's the first thing that we're going to get from you guys over there?  Do you know yet?

C. RIVERA:  The first thing we're going to do is basically a reporter's travelogue, our journal of how we got to the front lines, because a lot of the times when we do these stories, the bigger story is how we actually got there.

G. RIVERA:  The more exciting story for sure.

C. RIVERA:  The more exciting story.

SMITH:  So you have any idea how you really are going to get there?

G. RIVERA:  Well, there's a lot of options.  Hopefully, we can go with air mobile, the AMC, our own C-17s to get as close to the front as we can.  And if this advance by the Northern Alliance, that's the fight that Steve is reporting from there, if they really do take Mazar-e-Sharif, there's that big airport there.  I would fully expect that that would be the big, logistical base because it has all those roads leading up...

SMITH:  And wouldn't you think that's a place that the military is actually want pictures, because you've got to figure at some point, the repressed people there are going to be wandering around with stars and stripes?  And that's a good message for the Muslim world.

G. RIVERA:  There's no doubt about that and as they (UNINTELLIGIBLE), because you know, one story that's under reported, I think, Shep, is the fact that Mazar-e-Sharif has been ethnically cleansed by the Taliban.  You know, they're one ethnic group.  That city, though, exists in the northern part of the country where the other ethnic groups are in the majority.  They have wiped out virtually all of the minority community in Mazar-e-Sharif, the Taliban have.  So with that genocide going on, I'm positive that the local people once rid of the yoke of these dictators will respond very well to the United States.

SMITH:  Big report in the New York Times this morning talking about how American networks and American outlets are not reporting both sides of this story, that we're hugging the flag and ignoring some realities.

C. RIVERA:  That's not what we're going to do.  We're going to report what we see, and that's why we're going.  We're not going to just take the party line.  We're going to take it to the front line and report the truth.

G. RIVERA:  There is a very important thing to say here.  I think that The New York Times in suggesting that reporters are hugging the flag are showing their own bent there.  I don't see that at all.  In fact, what I see is reporters reporting what they have access to.  That's one of the problems.  If you can see it, that's what you report.  What we suggest doing is taking it really to the battle, taking it really to the front lines, I want to see one thing that we haven't seen in so long.  I want to see a United States rifle company, a reinforced rifle company take a hill.  I want to see us root these bastards.  I want to see our G.I.s make them pay back for what they did to us.  That's what I want to see.

SMITH:  We're about a week and a half away from seeing Geraldo and Craig on Fox News Channel.  Welcome aboard.

G. RIVERA:  Thanks.

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