Ever since it came to light that the man suspected of killing Mollie Tibbetts—a 20-year-old college student who disappeared after going for a jog last month—was a Mexican immigrant, conservatives have been spinning her death into a talking point, using the incident as ammo in the debate over immigration. Fox News has taken the angle and run with it—but now one of the network's own correspondents is calling it out for just how gross that is.
In an interview on Fox News Thursday, Geraldo Rivera slammed the network for giving so much weight to the claim that Tibbetts's suspected killer, Cristhian Rivera, is an undocumented immigrant, something authorities have alleged but his lawyer denies, the Washington Post reports. The correspondent accused Fox News of blowing the accusation out of proportion, and went after host Martha McCallum for saying the suspect shouldn't have been in the US in the first place.
"We, at this network, are putting that spin on this story,” Rivera said. "This is a murder story. It’s not an immigration story."
“I know that most of the Fox audience disagrees with me," Rivera continued, "but I’m begging you to have compassion and not brand this entire population by the deeds of this one person."
On Wednesday, President Trump himself used Tibbetts's death as a way to promote his immigration policies, saying in a video on Twitter that after she was "permanently separated from her family"—an apparent reference to his abandoned policy of separating undocumented parents from their children at the border—"we need the wall, we need our immigration laws changed." It's just the latest way he's tried draw a link between immigrants and crime, despite studies showing that the connection is a total myth.
For their part, Tibbetts's family has said they don't want to see her death politicized: Her aunt told CNN she doesn't "want Mollie’s memory to get lost amongst politics," and her cousin asked one conservative to "stop being a fucking snake and using my cousin's death as political propaganda." But that hasn't stopped conservatives from Newt Gingrich to Texas's lieutenant governor from going ahead and turning it into a right-wing talking point anyway.
“Mollie Tibbetts would be horrified by the fact that this case is being used against unlawful immigration,” Rivera said on Fox News Thursday. "She wasn't that person. Anyone could have done this."
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