It was bound to happen. Fox's Eric Bolling was primed to have a talking to for his extreme views on immigrants and his repeated calls that the entire undocumented population be deported. On Friday, fellow Fox News colleague Geraldo Rivera did just that, slamming The Five co-host for his "hardline" attitude toward immigrants, which Rivera said is "way too draconian to be in any sense humane or American."
Rivera said of Bolling's view:
RIVERA: I think it really overstates the problem. I think it helps fuel this enormous hatred. I think it's rhetorical. And I think that it's not you. You are a thoughtful person. You are passionate -- I understand that. And I think that you are eloquent, but when you talk about this whole class of people, 11 million people -- that's larger than some countries -- in one broad brush, including the grandmothers, the babies, everybody else, I think that it is negative; it is counterproductive; and it's very divisive.
Indeed, what Rivera was describing could be applied to the lion's share of Fox News' coverage of immigrants. Two recent examples include segments in which a straight news anchor on the network used the pejorative "illegals" to refer to undocumented immigrants and another that pushed a false storyline to attack the Obama administration on immigration policy.
Fox rarely, if ever, discusses immigrants as Rivera did on the show. He pointed out the numerous economic benefits they have brought the United States, including reviving economically depressed towns and the fact that they pay taxes. Rivera noted: "They are a productive, hard-working population, generally speaking, Eric; they are not a criminal -- I'm all for deporting criminals; deport them. But to treat the 2-year-old baby and the felony murderer as the same class is wrong."
And yet that's what Fox has done, repeatedly. The network has advanced the spurious idea that the majority of undocumented immigrants are criminals. And one of the ways it has pushed that narrative is by its personalities' incessant reference of immigrants using the slur "illegals." Following Bolling's use of the word, Rivera interjected: "You call them illegals. That is a word that is designed to generate a negative reaction. You wanna talk about illegals? Let's talk about fathers who don't pay child support. Aren't they illegals? ... So why don't we call them illegals?"
On December 1, the Pew Hispanic Center released a report estimating that nearly two-thirds of undocumented immigrants have been in the country for at least 10 years, more than a third for 15 years or more. Just 1 in 6 has been in the United States less than five years.
What prompted Rivera's defense of undocumented immigrants was an exchange he and Bolling had last week about a segment on The Five, during which Bolling repeated his stance on mass deportation. Bolling argued it should be done irrespective of the cost. Rivera wrote about his exchange with Bolling in a Fox News Latino column:
"Deport them all?" I continued incredulous, referring to [Bolling's] harsh suggestion that we should simply arrest and evict the 11 million plus undocumented immigrants. "What about the babies?" I asked. "The grandmothers? You're starting to sound like what's her name...Michelle Malkin who wants everyone to snitch out their illegal alien neighbors!"
"Yes, deport them," Bolling replied, still smiling broadly. "Beckel (his liberal foil on the "Five") says it would cost $160 Billion. I say it's worth every penny."
"You've got to be kidding," I muttered, shaking my head as I walked into the nearby studio for a scheduled appearance, envisioning helmeted officers running through day care and senior centers looking for undocumented immigrants.
But on Follow the Money, Bolling didn't vary his stance, claiming that if the United States deports every single undocumented immigrant, 11 million jobs will become available. This is the classic xenophobic argument.
Watch the entire segment: