Geraldo Rivera called himself “the conscience of Fox and the rest of the cable news world” when asked Tuesday about his objections to the use of the terms “illegals” and “aliens” in reference to undocumented immigrants.
He also added that he has made his opposition to such phrases “very, very clear” to Fox employees “from top to bottom,” but stopped short of any further direct criticism of the network.
“If I'm going to be the conscience of Fox and the rest of the cable news world, then it is a role that I enthusiastically embrace,” he told Media Matters during an appearance at a WABC Radio job fair in New York City.
His comments came in response to a question about a May 4 online column Rivera wrote for Fox News Latino, in which he denounced the use of certain terms to describe immigrants, especially “aliens” and “illegals.”
In the column, Rivera took news outlets, including Fox, to task for using such terms, writing:
Like the words 'Jew' or 'slob' or 'slut', the phrase 'illegal alien' has the elegance of being harsh, but defensible, if accurate. Although it can be used as a cutting reference, it can still be uttered in polite company without fear of raising many eyebrows, especially among those who feel similarly negative about the individual being described.
Asked Tuesday if he had raised the issue with Fox executives, Rivera said, “I've talked to all my colleagues, everyone knows my feelings, from top to bottom. I think the combination of those two pejoratives, 'illegal' and 'aliens,' is really a way to demean people, to separate people. I've made my feelings very, very clear to my colleagues at Fox.”
Rivera's complaints have as yet fallen on deaf ears. The “illegals” slur is regularly used on Fox's “straight news” and opinion programming and websites. The week before Rivera published his column, his Fox colleagues Bill O'Reilly, Tucker Carlson, and Mike Huckabee all defended such rhetoric in separate segments criticizing what O'Reilly termed the “crazy” opposition to the term by the “far left.”
In fact, the same day Rivera published his column, The O'Reilly Factor guest host Laura Ingraham re-aired the segment in which O'Reilly was “taking on that far left campaign that wants to ban the word ”illegal" when it comes to -- I'm saying it, wait - illegal aliens." Earlier in that same broadcast, Ingraham hosted Rivera to discuss a woman who brought her child into a tanning salon with her and a lethal hazing case at a Florida college.
Rivera credited Fox for letting him make his views clear on the air, even if the network would not ban the use of such phrases.
“And the great thing though, in fairness to Fox, they let me say and they let me publish that and, you know, I say it on the air as well.”