The only thing worse than no apology is a clearly strained one, Rush Limbaugh probably could have told Geraldo Rivera before the latter went and stuck his foot in his stupid, overworked mouth again.
Last week, a major facet in the ongoing turmoil surrounding the Trayvon Martin case in Florida became controversial remarks made by the low-rent talk show host turned Fox News star. If you managed to miss it, Geraldo went on Bill O’Reilly’s show, basically saying that Trayvon Martin was asking to have his young life snuffed out on a convenience store run by wearing, of all things, a hoodie.
To a nodding and agreeing O’Reilly, Rivera actually said that Martin’s hoodie was as much to blame for his death as George Zimmerman (the man who hunted Martin down, followed him against a 911 dispatcher’s instructions, and then shot him in the chest, killing the teen) was. While the remarks were very widely called out and deemed offensive, sadly, many agreed with Geraldo that the nearly ubiquitous item of clothing somehow played a role in Martin’s killing. (Women have been fighting this logic since time immemorial with rape, and it’s basically a redux of the “asking for it” defense.)
Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report brilliantly satirizes the thinking in the clip below. And after both Stewart and Colbert took the remarks to task on their back-to-back shows last night, Rivera finally stepped up and apologized… sort of. I mean, what- did you expect he’d actually admit how utterly wrong he was, even as several pictures of him wearing a hoodie surfaced?
Geraldo responded to the furor in an email to Politico, telling the blog he was sorry for trying to help, jeez. What Rivera actually said was this:
“I have obscured the main point that someone shot and killed an unarmed teenager… I apologize to anyone offended by what one prominent black conservative called my ‘very practical and potentially life-saving campaign urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies'”
So basically, “I’m sorry you guys don’t want to listen to reason!” Politico continues:
Rivera said that “by putting responsibility on what kids wear instead of how people react to them I have obscured the main point that someone shot and killed an unarmed teenager,” and that he was offering a “sincere and heartfelt apology” to anyone he may have offended in his “crusade to warn minority families of the danger to their young sons inherent in gangsta style clothing; like hoodies.”
To be fair to Rivera, it does seem he thinks he was right in the first place (the Fox personality also said in the email that “[M]y own family and friends believe [that] I have obscured or diverted attention from the principal fact, which is that an unarmed 17-year old was shot dead by a man who was never seriously investigated by local police… And if that is true, I apologize”) but it would probably be best if Rivera and his buddies at Fox realize how horrible it must be for Martin’s parents to see hoodies being blamed when a living, breathing and free man killed their boy.