Plenty of need out there for conflict mediation. Geraldo Rivera engages in the opposite -- conflict fermentation.
Rivera has decided there's no better way to accomplish this than by smearing someone as racist who doesn't share his left-wing RINO politics. (audio clips after page break)
On his WABC radio show out of New York City, Rivera maligned Mitt Romney as one degree removed from KKK membership while talking with Fox News colleague Eric Bolling about illegal immigration and polls showing erosion of support for President Obama among blacks (audio) --
BOLLING: How about Latino communities, Geraldo?
RIVERA: No, Latinos are going to stick with him because the Republicans are so noxious with their immigration policies.
BOLLING: Are they though, Geraldo? Because aren't Latinos historically very, very religious?
BOLLING: Aren't they historically very, and by the way, isn't the Latino unemployment rate pushing 11 percent also?
RIVERA: It's pretty high.
BOLLING: Yeah. So why, you're Latino, why would you vote for President Obama if in your community there's 11 percent unemployment? He's clearly not doing ...
RIVERA: Because you vote for the other guy and the other guy wouldn't even let you in his apartment.
And the basis for Rivera to slander Romney in this way? --
RIVERA: You know, I think that there's a real feeling that, you know, there's a, that it's not about immigration or immigration reform or even border security, that there's a racial component, that there's a feeling that there's this creepy black or brown invasion from the South.
Boy, that seals it, don't you think? There's a "feeling" -- nay, a "real feeling" -- of a "racial component" at work here. Next step -- appointing a special prosecutor to pursue Romney for hate crimes. The vague emotions cited by Rivera are damning evidence, indeed.
Rivera wasn't done, however. During a conversation with a caller that followed, Rivera laid out his case against Romney in even more devastating detail (audio) --
CALLER: I don't always agree with you but I love your show and I love your career, but I gotta take you a little bit to task over immigration and voting and Republicanism. I assume you, like I am, have wound up on eastern Long Island because somebody in your family immigrated to the United States.
RIVERA: Well, my dad did go eventually. Yeah, my mother's side, the Friedmans, came from Eastern Europe around the turn of the century, my dad's family from the Canary Islands to Puerto Rico several, couple of centuries ago, my dad born in Puerto Rico. So yeah, we're all immigrants.
CALLER: OK. Well, both sides of my family came through Ellis Island, so I am a direct descendant of immigrants and I am so pro-immigration. But when you talk about immigration, like me I'm a Republican, and I want the borders secured to enhance legal immigration.
RIVERA: Me too, I want the borders secured too.
CALLER: But when you talk about immigration, anybody it seems like, anybody who says we need to secure the borders, you label them as anti-immigrant. We're not ...
RIVERA: No, I don't. It's not about border security. It's about language, it's about approach. And I think that when Mitt Romney continues to, like I said yesterday, I believe that immigration has been so hyped by the media and by cable news, that now people would rather live next door to a child molester than an illegal alien.
Hard to believe, but the man saying this is also a father, several times over at that. As for Rivera's still-vague indictment of Romney for racism, add Romney's "language" and "approach" to the evidence.
Shortly after, Bolling ran circles around Rivera on illegal immigration (audio) --
BOLLING: People know, vote for a president who's going to make your life better, who's going to make your bottom line better, who's going to make your outlook look better, who's going to get you a job, who's going to make your bank account bigger, because at the end of the day, Geraldo, that's all that really matters to people. It doesn't, you know, whether the border is open or secure or not, that doesn't matter. But what matters is if you secure the border, you open up jobs that Americans could be taking.
Now, you and I have butted heads on this issue a million times. I'm guessing you're going to say, those illegal immigrants are taking jobs that Americans don't want. I say BS, they want the jobs, we need the jobs.
RIVERA: Well, I been a lot of places and they have a lot of jobs that no American is going to take. Take Iowa, quickly. Iowa, they had that big raid in those meat-packing plants there. They arrested over 400 illegal Mexican and Guatemalan workers. They gave them fel-, they had to plead guilty to a felony to be released back to Mexico. So they all have felony records now. They can never, ever legitimately enter the United States, ever. And the people that took their jobs there? Not some strapping Midwestern, you know, farm-bred boy, you know, going to take those jobs. The people that took those jobs were Somali immigrants that came in on political asylum, got nothing against Somalians, and you know, God bless 'em, I love that they get a job ...
BOLLING: Do you realize you're contradicting you're own argument right here?
RIVERA: No, what's the contradiction?
BOLLING: You're cool with Mexicans coming across the border illegally but you're uncool with Somalis who go in under political asylum.
RIVERA: I'm very cool with them! I love that they're working. But just don't, there were no Americans to take those jobs, that's my point.
BOLLING: Oh Geraldo, you know if there aren't whatever number, the numbers vary between 10 and 20 million illegal immigrants in the country, that eventually those jobs have to pay better. They have, the wages have to go up.
RIVERA: Right, right. So you pay $50 for a hamburger.
RIVERA: Or your cantaloupe will be, you know, a $15 item.
BOLLING (wearily): You think? All right. Your economies are a little different than mine.
Rivera misses Bolling's point -- the presence of 10 to 12 million illegals in the US brings down wages, since employers hiring them avoid the higher labor costs of legal workers. Hence, winnowing illegal immigrants from the workforce would force those who hire them to pay higher wages to legal workers -- and the more dramatic the reduction in illegals, the more substantial the change in wages. (Along with higher costs for goods and services, in fairness to Rivera's argument, though $50 hamburgers are unlikely).
Later in the same show, while talking with Truthdig editor in chief Robert Scheer, Rivera made this revelation (audio) --
SCHEER: He's (Obama) what the Republicans used to be, you know?
RIVERA: (laughs): That's a good point. I think that he is exactly the kind of Republican I am.
At long last, clarity on Rivera's politics. He's that rarest of wingless birds, the Obama Republican.
(h/t, Brian Maloney at Radio Equalizer)