I bet you weren’t prepared to call Geraldo Rivera a hero today, but here we are. Last night on Fox News, Rivera leveled his employer, Fox News, for their racist coverage of the murder of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbitts, whose body was discovered earlier this week after she had been missing for a month.
Tibbetts was killed by a 24-year-old immigrant from Mexico who has been living in the United States for between four and seven years. Her death has sparked national outrage and a debate, fueled by President Donald Trump’s fear of foreigners, between those who see this as a murder case and others who think American immigration laws are the culprit.
“A person came in from Mexico illegally and killed her,” Trump said in a video he posted on Twitter. “We need the wall, we need our immigration laws changed, we need our border laws changed.”
Fox News has perpetuated the president’s narrative, and Rivera is having none of it.
Geraldo Rivera calls out Fox News for their Mollie Tibbetts murder coverage:
— Media Matters (@mmfa) August 24, 2018
On Thursday, Rivera schooled host Martha MacCallum on why politicizing Tibbetts’ murder is so misguided — starting by repeating the pleas of Tibbetts’ family.
“The family of Mollie Tibbetts… have gone out of their way… to say Mollie Tibbetts would be horrified that this case is being used as an argument against immigration. She wasn’t that person.”
Rivera said that “anyone could have done this,” referring to murdering Tibbetts. “They do it on a daily basis,” he added, noting that “white people, black people, red people, yellow people… they do these crimes.”
MacCallum fired back with “that for some people,” the fact that Tibbetts’ killer was here “illegally” is just “another indicator that we have a terrible, lax process at our border.” She added our immigration system “doesn’t work. He shouldn’t have been here.”
Rivera then threw Fox News under the bus, calling them out for their “spin” on this sensitive issue.
“We at this network are putting the spin on this story,” he exclaimed. “This is a murder story. This is not an immigration story.”
Rivera followed his remarks by mentioning studies that say immigrants commit far fewer crimes than American citizens. He said turning Tibbetts’ killing into a referendum on immigration is “feeding the false impression that this population increases violent crime. It is a falsehood, and to use this case to make that point is wrong.”
“Fox News is the only network fully covering the case,” a stand-in for Laura Ingraham said Wednesday night.
On Wednesday morning, Fox host and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich sent a warning to Democrats in an email to Axios: “If Mollie Tibbetts is a household name by October, Democrats will be in deep trouble. If we can be blocked by Manafort-Cohen, etc., the GOP could lose [the House] badly.”
“We are living in two alternative political universes,” Gingrich said, before suggesting that if Trump’s personal scandals are fair political fodder, so is Tibbetts’ death. “In one, Manafort-Cohen is dispositive. In the other, illegal immigrants killing Mollie Tibbetts is dispositive.”
Later on, in a Fox News appearance, the former Georgia Congressman said Tibbetts “was killed by a person who is exactly what Trump has been warning about.” You recall that Trump kicked off his bid for the White House in 2015 by referring to Mexicans as criminals and rapists who are “bringing drugs and crime” across the Southern border.
“The left has to bear the burden of being the party that is tolerating Americans being killed by people who are here illegally,” Gingrich groaned.
For Trump, inflaming his base’s fear of immigrants is a welcome distraction from what is easily the worst week of his presidency thus far.