Fireworks flew on Fox News this week between network contributors Geraldo Rivera and civil rights attorney Leo Terrell when the two butted heads over liberal ideas on violent crime — and Rivera went one step too far.
Both men were appearing on the Thursday airing of “America’s Newsroom” with host Bill Hemmer to discuss reports that the newly elected mayor of St. Louis, Democrat Tishaura Jones, was planning to address her city’s rising homicide rate with more social workers, rather than police officers, an idea that has floated by progressives as part of the movement to “defund the police.”
Rivera, a legendary journalist with liberal leanings, acknowledged that the plan was “idealistic” and a bit “unrealistic,” but nonetheless endorsed the “compassion” of such an approach.
“You need love, you need kindness. You know, you can always use more compassion,” he said. “The problem in St. Louis, as it is here in Cleveland and many other top-10 murder cities, is the drugs, the gangs, the urban violence, the black-on-black civil war that’s been going on that no one talks about.
“It’s a bad situation. I wish her the best, but she’s being very idealistic.
“You know, it’s unrealistic, I think in many regards. The fracture’s too deep, the problem’s too tough. Too many guns out there, too many bitter feelings, too many drugs.”
“This whole idea of cutting back police officers and increasing social workers is a failure,” he said, pointing to cities like his hometown of Los Angeles as well as Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Chicago, and New York.
“Show me where cutting down police officers and increasing social workers is going to help reduce crime in these Democratic cities,” Terrell said, noting that high-crime communities would be better helped by fixing the school system and breaking the cycle of poverty that drives young people to the streets.
“Geraldo, give me a break. All the evidence on Fox News, all this crime is going on in Democratic cities where they basically give the keys of the city to the criminals.
Rivera responded, “I’m agreeing with you, bud. You can’t bring a social worker to a gunfight, I agree with you. But there’s always room for kindness and compassion and these families are shattered. Let’s try to rebuild the families. I’m all for that. I just think you have to be realistic what’s going on here.”
This was when Hemmer pointed to comments made by Mayor Jones, who said, as he quoted her, “I appreciate the role of white allies in this movement of progress. I don’t believe that they have the lived experience to lead a majority-minority city.”
“That is the most insulting, racist comment,” Terrell replied hotly. “You know what she is saying? Because you are white, you don’t understand what we as black people go through regarding crime. That makes the assumption then that Joe Biden doesn’t know. To say that she is basically in a better position because she is black is insulting, is racist, and makes no sense whatever. I reject that argument.”
Geraldo Rivera asks Leo Terrell when’s the last time he was in the “ghetto” and all hell breaks loose pic.twitter.com/ZdjadawLqM
— Ryan Masri (@ryanmasri_) April 8, 2021
That’s where Rivero set off an explosion with a smug, snide question about Terrell’s recent experience of life in the inner-city.
“Hey, Leo, when was the last time you were in the ghetto?” Rivera asked. “Is she saying you don’t —” interrupted Rivera.
Terrell shot back, “How dare you say that? You know nothing about me. How dare you say that?”
When Terrell argued he was born in a poor area of L.A., Rivera inexplicably overlapped by noting “I’m from Avenue C, man!” as if his own New York City background somehow mattered to the question he asked.
“Insulting!” Terrell shouted angrily, as Rivera attempted to explain “that knowledge I have is helpful!”
Of course, Rivera had just tried to undermine Terrell’s own “lived experiences” by suggesting he hadn’t visited the ghetto himself in a while and Terrell was right to get so offended.
A longtime voice on talk radio shows in California who recently joined as a Fox News contributor, Terrell has been a civil rights attorney for decades who has fought in some of the causes closest to the “anti-racist” left, such as employment law and anti-hate crime legislation.
He was a member of the NAACP and provided pro bono legal work for the group until he quit in a 2003 dispute, according to The Washington Times. He was even a public school teacher before becoming an attorney.
The man has street cred, and he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the black community.
Can the same be said for Geraldo?! I mean, if we’re going to get technical, by pretty much everyone’s standards, we can probably agree Terrell has the upper hand when it comes to his “lived experiences.”
I mean, where was Geraldo even going with this? After all, they were discussing comments made by a woman who said outright that white people aren’t fit to lead a city because they lack this perspective.
To his credit, the longtime television personality did later issue an apology for undermining his friend’s ability to speak to the reality of life in the inner-city.
Apologize to @TheLeoTerrell did not mean to imply that he doesn’t get realities of urban life. Sorry Leo didn’t mean it personally. I wish St Louis’ new mayor the best. She has her hands full in a city beset by violent crime.
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) April 8, 2021
This little explosive TV incident, however, does much to highlight the messiness of feeding liberal ideas about the role of race in American society.
Terrell was right all along — to undermine individuals’ ability to properly participate in the betterment of the inner city due to the color of their skin is, by definition, racist.
There’s simply no way around this — and the more the left insists all Americans — especially white Americans — adopt a certain ideology, the further we move away from anything resembling an anti-racist system.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.