‘This is a murder story, not an immigration story’: Longtime Fox News commentator lashes out at network for Mollie Tibbetts coverage

The Fox News host Martha MacCallum and the veteran commentator Geraldo Rivera.

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The Fox News host Martha MacCallum and the veteran commentator Geraldo Rivera.
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Screenshot/Fox News

  • The Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera on Thursday argued that his network was perpetuating damaging stereotypes of unauthorized immigrants through its coverage of the death of a 20-year-old Iowa woman.
  • He argued that Fox’s focus on the immigration status of the man accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts was fueling the vilification of millions of unauthorized immigrants living in the US.
  • “We at this network are putting that spin on the story,” Rivera said on Fox. “This is a murder story, not an immigration story.”

The veteran Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera lashed out at his own network on Thursday, arguing that Fox is perpetuating damaging stereotypes of unauthorized immigrants through its coverage of the death of a 20-year-old Iowa woman, Mollie Tibbetts.

Rivera, a conservative who has regularly spoken out against the GOP’s approach to immigration, argued that the man charged in her death, who authorities say is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, should not represent the millions of unauthorized immigrants living in the US.

The Fox commentator added that by making Tibbetts’ death an issue of immigration rather than of crime and violence against women, Fox was adding fuel to hatred directed at immigrant communities.

“I know that most of the Fox audience disagrees with me, but I’m begging you to have compassion and not brand this entire population by the deeds of this one person,” he told the Fox host Martha MacCallum on Thursday night.

MacCallum replied that Fox was not attempting to stereotype the larger immigrant community but pointing out that the suspect “shouldn’t have been here” and that his immigration status “adds to” Tibbetts’ family’s “pain.”

But Rivera said the suspect’s background shouldn’t be at the crux of the story, which he said was about the death of a woman, not crime among immigrants.

“We at this network are putting that spin on the story,” he said. “This is a murder story, not an immigration story.”

Earlier this week, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas described Democrats and the media – singling out Rivera – as “accomplices” in Tibbetts’ death and “the death of everyone else.”

Rivera condemned Patrick’s comments, asserting that unauthorized immigrants are being unjustly vilified by conservatives.

“He is stereotyping 11 million people in our country here without documentation,” Rivera said of Patrick. “They care for our babies, they mow our lawns, they wash our dishes, they pick our fruit, they pack our meat, they process our poultry.”

This week, President Donald Trump used Tibbetts’ death to promote his claim that unauthorized immigrants bring “tremendous crime” into the US. He posted a video in which he blamed the young woman’s death on the country’s immigration laws.

“Mollie Tibbetts, an incredible young woman, is now permanently separated from her family,” Trump said. He alleged that her death as “one instance of many” crimes by unauthorized immigrants.

Over the past few days, following the revelation that the man charged in Tibbetts’ death, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, is undocumented, Fox and other conservative media outlets have made the story front-page news – even elevating it above their coverage of the criminal convictions of two of Trump’s top former advisers, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen.