There are those who will dismiss Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera’s announcement that he is considering running for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey in 2014 as a Republican as just one more publicity stunt in a career replete with them. Rivera’s public record is mixed, as it has combined serious advocacy on a number of issues with the sort of foolish excess that has given a bad name to tabloid journalism. If people think of him more as a celebrity than a journalist, it is his own fault and not something that he has seemed to mind very much.
Nevertheless, Rivera has as much right to run for public office as any other citizen and if he thinks he can spend the rest of his life more productively in public service that is to his credit. Though it is doubtful whether his notoriety will translate well into the political arena, he is both articulate and smart enough to give a good account of himself in any debate–even against a rising star like Cory Booker, who will probably be the Democratic nominee in that race. It is also arguable that someone running explicitly as a moderate Republican, as Rivera is calling himself, has a chance to win in a blue state like New Jersey. But in articulating just that rationale for his candidacy Friday afternoon on Fox News in an interview with Sheppard Smith, Rivera highlighted the seamier aspects of his past and therefore the difficulty of separating the outrageous media personality from the would-be political crusader.