Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera came to the defense of Matt Lauer, the Today show host who NBC fired on Wednesday for alleged sexual harassment, by arguing that “news is a flirty business.”
Rivera tweeted on Wednesday that he was “sad” that NBC suddenly dismissed Lauer, who is accused in an article published by Variety of exposing himself to a female co-worker, sending inappropriate messages, and inviting female co-workers to his hotel room late at night.
Rivera called Lauer a “great guy, highly skilled and empathetic with guests and a real gentleman to my family and me.” He went on to minimize the recent wave of sexual harassment allegations against leading political and media figures, calling them part of an “epidemic” that is “criminalizing courtship and conflating it with predation.”
Of course, the allegations against Lauer are far more serious than a mere innocent courtship between consensual adults. For example, Variety cited one case in which Lauer is said to have revealed his penis to a female employee and “reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act.”
Lauer has yet to publicly address the allegations.
Rivera continued by laying down what he believes should be the statute of limitations on reporting sexual harassment. The allegations should be “made in a timely fashion—say within 5 year,” he tweeted, and come with “some contemporaneous corroboration, like witnesses, electronic or written communications.”
Rivera has previously been accused of sexual misconduct. Singer and actress Bette Midler alleged in a 1991 interview with Barbara Walters that Rivera and a producer drugged her and then “proceeded to grope” her in a bathroom.
At the time, Rivera called Midler’s allegations “preposterous” and said the two had consensual sex, according to an Associated Press report from 1991.
Update: Wednesday at 6:00 PM PT.
Fox News is distancing itself from Rivera’s comments, the network told Fortune in a statement.
“Geraldo’s tweets do not reflect the views of FOX News or its management,” the statement said. “We were troubled by his comments and are addressing them with him.”