By Julian Routh | News Editor
The line between what is and isn’t ‘Duquesne-able’ led university officials to cancel a well-known journalist’s appearance at an upcoming conference.
Geraldo Rivera, host of Geraldo at Large on Fox News, will no longer be appearing at a Duquesne symposium dedicated to a discussion about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Oct. 17 due to a shirtless picture he posted on Twitter in July.
The decision to cancel Rivera’s appearance was based primarily on the photo, according to Duquesne spokesperson Bridget Fare.
“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 Spiritan university and therefore asked the Wecht Institute to withdraw the invitation,” Fare said.
Fare called it “teaching by example,” acknowledging that Duquesne warns students about “possible consequences of posting questionable material on social media.”
Rivera turned to Twitter to react to the cancellation, posting “Just heard Duquesne Univ cancelled my appearance at JFK assassination panel because of ‘selfie’. Fact I first aired Zapruder film less impt.”
The ‘selfie’ in question, posted to his Twitter on July 21, shows a half-naked Rivera sporting nothing but a towel with the caption “70 is the new 50.”
Rivera, who admitted he had been drinking tequila the night of the post, received a wave of criticism from the public, but no punishment from Fox News.
In 1975, Rivera, then a host of Good Night America, was the first to air the Zapruder film, a color video of the assassination, on American television.
“Passing the Torch,” a 50th anniversary conference hosted by the university’s Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law, will bring together researchers, experts, journalists and investigators to discuss the JFK assassination in “forensic, scientific and legal” terms, program director Ben Wecht said.
Wecht, who declined to comment on the university canceling Rivera’s appearance, said the panel will now be moderated by Sally Wiggin, host of WTAE Chronicle and former WTAE news anchor.
The institute also confirmed last week that filmmaker Oliver Stone, who directed the 1991 film JFK, will be appearing.
Robert McClelland, the first surgeon to operate on the president after he was shot, will make an appearance via video conference.
In light of the controversy surrounding Rivera, Wecht said “there’s really something for almost everyone” at the conference.
“This conference will be addressing 50 years of history and scientific and legal inquiry into a case that many consider an open murder case,” Wecht said. “We will try and see if we can come to a consensus on what happened…and perhaps bring the thing to a resolution.”
Wecht, who has been working on the conference for [a couple of years], said he thinks there are a plethora of “interesting issues and characters” surrounding the assassination that will keep attendees intrigued.
“We are on track to deliver a really great conference,” Wecht said. “It’s one of those rare conferences that has broad appeal across a lot of disciplines.”