Individual Fox News correspondents seem increasingly feeling free to criticize President Trump and his policies on air after years of being a virtual cheerleading squad for the president and all of his actions.
While there has always been a divide among the network’s hosts between actual journalists and the smiling (or snarling) talking heads providing “opinion and commentary” masquerading as facts, it now seems that the channel has started to less reliably parrot the White House line.
Now Geraldo Rivera has gone on the record as feeling “ashamed” by how America is treating migrants on the Mexican border a day after footage of border patrol agents spraying women and children with tear gas — a tactic banned in international warfare, but strangely permissible in domestic crowd control — was widely circulated.
“This goes to my soul. Fulfilling my role as the designated piñata on Fox News, I wanna say I am ashamed,” Rivera said. “The tear gas choked me. We treat these people — these economic refugees — as if they’re zombies from ‘The Walking Dead’!”
Showing a compassion not typically ascribed to Fox News personnel, Rivera continued to condemn the administration’s actions in a way that must have had the typical viewer of the network covering their ears.
“We arrested 42 people, eight of them were women with children! We have to deal with this problem humanely and with compassion,” he continued. “These are not invaders. Stop using these military analogies. This is absolutely painful to watch!”
Providing a point of view rarely heard on the network that spends most of its time cheerfully stoking the fears provided to it by President Trump’s racist rants, Rivera explained the motivations of the people in the caravan in a way that Fox News viewers may not want to believe, but is commonly accepted by those not under the spell of the channel’s propaganda machine.
“We are a nation of immigrants. These are desperate people. They walked 2,000 miles. Why? Because they want to rape your daughter or steal your lunch? No. Because they want a job!” Rivera concluded. “They want to fill the millions of unfilled jobs we have in the agricultural sector. They want to wash dishes in the restaurants. They wanna deliver the pizzas. For goodness sake! We suspend our humanity when it comes to this issue, and I fear that it is because they look different than the mainstream.”
It’s heartening to see that slivers of humanity and compassion can occasionally emerge from the hostile soil of the Fox News studios. If only the rest of the network’s on-air talent, and, more importantly, its executives who control the programming and messaging of the channel, would display the same rejection of polarization that Geraldo Rivera did today.
You can watch a clip of Geraldo Rivera’s comments on the border gassings in the video below.
wow — Geraldo Rivera’s commentary tonight on Fox about the treatment and depiction of migrants is pretty powerful. a must-watch for some against-the-grain perspective pic.twitter.com/yrwIfAg11J
— J.D. Durkin (@jiveDurkey) November 26, 2018
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Original reporting by Joe Concha at The Hill.