Dan Bongino is the human personification of Al Capone’s vault.
For those too young to remember — or too intelligent to care — Geraldo Rivera was near the apex of his fame when he hosted a TV special in 1986 titled “The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults.” Vaults purportedly belonging to the mobster had been located in a Chicago hotel and Rivera was going to open them live on air.
What would be in there? Dead bodies? Piles of cash? Those tax returns that ended up sending Capone to jail? Actually, um, a whole lot of nothing. Except for a few bottles — Rivera tried to pass one of them off as perhaps being moonshine — the vaults were mostly empty and the special turned Rivera into a national punchline.
It’s impossible to say it ruined Rivera’s career, given that was 35 years ago and we’re still talking about the man, but it started a concatenation of events that led from Rivera being a semi-serious journalist to getting his nose broken by neo-Nazis on his proto-Maury Povich show just a few years later.
Three decades later, podcaster and former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino dished out the same kind of embarrassment to Rivera that the vaults at the Lexington Hotel did.
Rivera, against his better judgment, frequently appears as the antagonist to Bongino on Fox News. The latest showdown was on Wednesday. The topic: the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
The segment especially honed in on why the left seems so reluctant to condemn Hamas, which has launched indiscriminate rocket attacks on innocent Israelis and has used hospitals and schools, among other buildings, as staging locations for military equipment in the Gaza Strip, yet again using their own people as human shields.
Rivera told host Sean Hannity that it was “shocking and outrageous to [him] that, in all the discussions of what’s happening in Israel, the fact that Palestinians are being killed at the rate of 15 or 20 times the death toll among the Israelis, including children.”
He went on to call it “abhorrent” and demanded a ceasefire — although, strangely, seemed mostly silent on Hamas using their own as human shields.
Bongino called him out on this. “Geraldo, you do this every time. This is such garbage and I’m really — I’m really getting sick of it. You play this emotional game with the audience and use your position of responsibility to put out misinformation,” he said.
Things got real posthaste.
“You know, stop attacking me, punk!” Rivera said. “Address the issue! Do you have the guts to address the issue? This is not about me. You didn’t come on the show to attack me. You came on the show to talk about the issue. Do you have a point about the issue?”
When Bongino pointed out that, yes, Rivera’s history of appeals to emotion was relevant, Rivera crumpled up a piece of paper and threw it at the camera.
“I’m sick of you, Bongino!” he said. “I’m sick of you. You’re a punk!”
While Bongino did note Rivera was “an uncontrolled lunatic,” he also pleaded for calm. He didn’t get it.
“I’m an out-of-control lunatic?” Rivera said. “I’m a 10-time Emmy winner with deep experience in the Middle East. Have you ever even been there? … I’ve covered every war since 1973.”
Yeah! And Al Capone’s vault, and chair-throwing neo-Nazis! Can you claim to have done any of that, Bongino?
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) May 20, 2021
What’s truly astounding here, too, is that Bongino’s weakness is usually … well, I definitely wouldn’t call him an “out-of-control lunatic,” but he’s a man a Starbucks barista might be inclined to suggest a decaf to, or maybe a nice cup of rooibos tea.
Here, Bongino is the picture of self-control, allowing the mustachioed one to self-destruct at the same time he was self-owning.
Hannity tried to get the segment under control (a fools errand at that juncture) by asking Rivera who fired the first rockets.
Rivera, instead, blamed Israel for a raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
It’s worth noting that during another one of Rivera’s tantrums — one where he turned his back to the screen — Bongino managed to nail down the issue. “Geraldo Rivera doesn’t understand that Hamas doesn’t believe in Israel’s right to exist,” he said.
Wow – wild!@GeraldoRivera is a typical progressive, using emption and deception – @dbongino uses logic and facts…
It’s is because of people like Geraldo that the terrorists always come back and innocent children die… https://t.co/SEEYeXFJy4
— Tony Shaffer (@T_S_P_O_O_K_Y) May 20, 2021
This isn’t just Rivera who believes this, mind you, but it gets to the issue with the extremist wing of the left which elevates a terrorist group to a geopolitical player that has a right to defend itself — even when Hamas initiated the attacks.
Rivera doesn’t get this despite the fact he’s covered every war since 1973. Contradict him and you’re a punk.
Perhaps sometime in the near future, Israel will find an unopened vault in Gaza where Hamas has put all of its documents pertaining to a peaceful solution in which they live in harmony with the Israelis in a functional two-state democracy. Rivera can go over there and do a live two-hour special leading up to the opening of the vault.
And then he’ll find that, in a repeat of 1986, the darned thing will be empty.
Until then, however, we’ll always have Dan Bongino — the human personification of Al Capone’s vault.
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