NEW YORK — Geraldo Rivera is quitting his prime-time talk show on CNBC to become a war correspondent for Fox News Channel, saying Thursday he couldn’t bear to stay on the sidelines during a big story.
Rivera’s last CNBC show after seven years will be on Nov. 16. He said he’ll leave for Afghanistan the next day.
His legal affairs talk show is one of CNBC’s highest-rated programs, although down from its heights during the O.J. Simpson trials. His 10 years as a syndicated talk show host ended in 1998.
Rivera, who exercised an exit clause in his NBC contract, said he wanted to do more reporting but it was difficult when he was committed to a talk show four nights a week.
It’s a coup for Fox News Channel, which has struggled to keep up with CNN in international coverage. Fox recently hired a former CNN correspondent, Steve Harrigan, to report from Afghanistan.
Fox News Channel chief Roger Ailes said Rivera "never got the respect he deserved as a newsman" at NBC. "He never was used in the way he should be."
Rivera did news specials for NBC and appeared on the "Today" show. But many in NBC News’ old guard were suspicious of Rivera’s tabloid TV days searching Al Capone’s vault and getting his nose broken by a white supremacist.
Ailes nearly hired Rivera in 1997, but at the last minute Rivera decided to stay at NBC. Rivera said his exit from NBC now was done in a "gentlemanly" fashion."
"We wish him all the best," said NBC News president Neal Shapiro.
"Geraldo has had an up-and-down career," Ailes said. "He wanted to and decided to make money doing talk shows and other things. My own view is that does not destroy you as long as when you’re doing the news, you’re doing the news.
"I don’t think anyone has ever questioned his ability to do news," he said.
CNBC said it will fill the sudden hole in its schedule by expanding its business programming into prime time.
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