America tuned in, by the millions, for this true “reality television” moment. It was unscripted made-for-ratings television. Geraldo Rivera had made a name for himself as a no-nonsense commentator on American culture and politics for ABC News. He had his own talk show that drew modestly good ratings.
On this date, Rivera’s image was tarnished.
The build up to the moment was pure television drama. Somehow Rivera had found Al Capone’s secret vault. Inside, he proposed, could be all sorts of treasures. However, when the moment arrived and the vault was opened…NOTHING.
But it was something.
Television was moving toward LIVE REALITY. Reality television (taped) was already around, but live reality was not…at best that was the fodder of fledgling cable television news outlets like CNN. But Geraldo introduced a new type of reality: live and unscripted.
In time, Geraldo Rivera would recover his reputation (somewhat) but LIVE REALITY TELEVISION was here to stay…and thrive…from CourtTV (live trials) to LivePD (live police action) to 24/7 news coverage.