Geraldo Rivera was lambasted by a Fox News colleague on Tuesday after he suggested the reaction to the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was divided along racial lines.
During an appearance on “Outnumbered,” Rivera was asked to apply his legal expertise to the case surrounding Brown, who was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo.
Rivera, who is Hispanic, said that he had no doubt Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed Brown, will be indicted due to “political pressure.”
“And I’ll tell you what will happen,” Rivera said. “They’ll have a trial. The white jurors will see it one way, the black jurors will see it another. The white jurors will look at that convenience store surveillance tape. They will see Michael Brown menacing that clerk. The white jurors will put themselves in the shoes of that clerk. They’ll say of course the officer responded the way he did. He was menaced by a 6-foot-4-inch, 300-pound kid ten minutes fresh from a strong armed robbery. The officer was defending themselves. The white jurors will put themselves in the white officer’s place. The black jurors will see Michael Brown despite his flaws as the surrogate for every black youngster.”
For “Outnumbered” host Harris Faulkner, who is black, Rivera’s analysis was lazy and even offensive:
Geraldo, you are reaching for the low-hanging fruit and I cannot let you do that with some argument.
I give people more credit than what you’re talking about. What you’re saying is that the nation is divided, particularly in kind of a microcosm way. Ferguson, Mo., is divided black and white and that’s the only issue here.
That is poor-sighted, it’s short-sighted, and it’s just not true. You have a lot of things happening in that community, outside of the fact that you’ve got blacks and whites. You’ve got an economic situation there that’s poor and that is very much a green issue. You’ve got schools closed. They couldn’t even have the first day of school because of the unrest on the streets. You’ve had, in some estimations, militarization of the police and fear on both sides, police and protest. You’ve had invaders from the outside come in. This is more than a racial issue. And for you to pick off the low hanging fruit is offensive and it incites more of it to go on. It’s irresponsible.
Rivera defended his position, telling Faulkner he was asked to bring his experience as a lawyer to the table.
“People see things through the most egregious issue we have domestically, which is race,” he said. “They will choose sides based on race. I see it clear as day and to accuse me of being simplistic defies reality of American justice.”
Faulkner continued on the subject later in the segment after the panel played a clip of Mark Fuhrman, the Fox News contributor and former Los Angeles Police Department detective whose use of racial slurs became a major focal point in the O.J. Simpson trial, defending the Ferguson officer who shot and killed Brown.
“We’re the greatest country in the world and everybody who faces any sort of criminal indictment or charges is innocent before proven guilty in a court of law,” Faulkner said.
“Let’s get the facts. Let’s just get the facts,” she added. “And, you know, what this gentleman was talking about was just, look, ‘He’s innocent until we find otherwise.’ And this is true for anybody in this country.”
When Rivera tried to provide context for Fuhrman’s point of view, Faulkner was indignant.
“Mark gives you the cop-white person take on it,” Rivera said before being cut off.
“Oh my goodness, Geraldo,” Faulkner said. “You are obsessed with this.”