-- Veteran journalist Geraldo Rivera was the first contestant eliminated from season 22 of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” Monday night following an unimpressive debut that earned him the lowest score on the leaderboard in the season premiere.
“It was a lot of fun. I wish I could dance better, mainly for Edyta,” Rivera said on “Good Morning America” today of his professional partner, Edyta Sliwinska. “She’s the most superb dancer, she deserved a much better partner. She’s so patient and so, so charismatic and wonderfully supportive.”
After he was eliminated, Rivera said his daughter began sobbing in the audience and the only person who could make her feel better was a surprising choice.
“My 10-year-old was in the audience with her mom and she started sobbing and the one person who could console her was Von Miller, the Super Bowl MVP,” he recalled. “This gigantic man came walking over and she calmed down immediately. It was a touching thing.”
As for partner Sliwinska, she was “so glad to be back” after being away from “Dancing With the Stars” more than five years.
“It was wonderful. It was a bit like riding a bike. Once you learn how to do it, you never forget,” she explained. “And the show has just improved. It has gotten better and better. I am sad we left, I am really sad, but it was such an amazing treat for me to get to know this person.”
After the elimination, Rivera joked, “If I didn’t get eliminated tonight I would have demanded a recount.”
Before the eliminations were announced, the 12 competitors gave it their all on the show’s Latin dance-themed night, each performing either a rumba, salsa, samba, paso doble, cha-cha or Argentine tango.
Tonight’s top scorers: UFC fighter Paige VanZant and singer Wanya Morris both earned 24 points.
“Unfortunately, you did not make dance great again but you did make me laugh,” Inaba told Rivera, in a play on the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
In a video that preceded his turn on the dance floor, Rivera said he had no feeling at all in his right foot as a result of back surgery in 2010. After the judges’ comments, Rivera -- who described Trump as “a friend of mine” -- said he and Sliwinska were working on a theme for their performance when they came up with the idea to channel “The Donald.” He said he believes the Republican presidential candidate would enjoy the routine.
Judges’ Scores (out of a possible 30 points)
Wanya Morris and Lindsay Arnold: 24
Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas: 24
Ginger Zee and Val Chmerkovskiy: 21
Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe: 21
Doug Flutie and Karina Smirnoff: 20
Von Miller and Witney Carson: 20
Kim Fields and Sasha Farber: 19
Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess: 19
Mischa Barton and Artem Chigvintsev: 15
Geraldo Rivera and Edyta Sliwinska: 13 They were eliminated tonight.)