Duquesne strips Geraldo Rivera from JFK panel

University finds his semi-naked 'selfie' inappropriate

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After nearly stripping on social media last month, Geraldo Rivera has just been stripped of his role in an upcoming Duquesne University panel on the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination.

Friday -- amid tweets from his boat about cocktails on Martha's Vineyard and sailing jaunts to Provincetown -- the Fox News personality posted that the university had just given him the heave-ho: "Just heard Duquesne Univ cancelled my appearance at JFK assassination panel because of 'selfie'. Fact I first aired Zapruder film less impt."

Mr. Rivera, who in 1975 was the first to air a bootlegged copy of Abraham Zapruder's home movie of the Kennedy assassination, in July tweeted a selfie -- a self-portrait taken on his cell phone -- naked except for a white towel, in celebration of his birthday, noting "70 is the new 50."

The photo was greeted with a storm of derision, prompting him to tweet that he was just "harmlessly showing off," although a New York Post headline claimed: "I Was Drunk and Lonely: Geraldo Explains his Semi-Naked Selfie."

No matter: A Duquesne University spokeswoman said Mr. Rivera's action didn't comport with the university's values, and asked the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law, which is sponsoring the panel, to disinvite him.

"The administration felt that Mr. Rivera's decision to post a nearly naked picture of himself on social media was inappropriate and inconsistent with who we are as a Catholic university and therefore asked the Wecht Institute to withdraw the invitation," said Bridget Fare. "We warn our students not to put anything inappropriate on social media because of potential consequences -- you could consider this teaching by example."

Nonetheless, did Mr. Rivera's almost-in-the-buff appearance deserve such a rebuff?

"That's a very, very good question. I am disappointed," said Cyril Wecht, chair of the institute's advisory board. The selfie in question -- "someone just told me what a selfie was yesterday," Dr. Wecht said -- seems to rank fairly low "on the moral depravity list. You've got a 70-year-old man with a bath towel around his waist, although granted, it was below the umbilical level. You go to a beach, there are people running on the streets every day, guys in their shorts. How could this bother Duquesne?"

Mr. Wecht's son Benjamin, who is organizing the three-day conference scheduled for Oct. 17-19, declined to comment on Duquesne's decision -- but noted Mr. Rivera had been scheduled to moderate a panel of journalists and media critics to discuss how the assassination would be handled by media today.

"Geraldo was invited because, when we decided to look closely at the media's role, he was someone with long experience in that capacity and would also be a bit of a draw on attendance," Mr. Wecht said.

While the conference organizers have lost one big name, it seems they have snagged another, he added. Filmmaker Oliver Stone, another big name in JFK assassination lore, will be on the media panel Thursday and make a separate presentation Friday. Mr. Stone directed and co-wrote the screenplay for the 1991 movie "JFK."

A Google search of "Oliver Stone naked" yielded no incriminating selfies.

education - neigh_city

Mackenzie Carpenter: mcarpenter@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1949 or on Twitter: @MackenziePG.


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