On Friday, a Fox News panel discussed President Donald Trump's remarks aimed at four progressive congresswomen of color, The Daily Beast reports.
Causing widespread controversy and outrage, Trump recently told Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley that they should "go back" to their countries. The controversy reignited following a "send her back!" chant the president's rally crowd launched at Omar, a Somali refugee.
Since then, many of those loyal to Trump have found different ways to justify his remarks.
Fox News correspondent-at-large Geraldo Rivera is an exception.
After publicly slamming Trump and calling his remarks racist, Rivera went on Fox & Friends only to double down on his criticism. Praising the president for seemingly disavowing the chant, Rivera argued that the commander-in-chief's initial "go back" comments are an "old racist trope."
The rest of the panel disagreed, and host Pete Hegseth strongly pushed back against Rivera's claim.
"Geraldo, but you, like many, have accused him of racism. But if you go back and look at that tweet, he's not talking about race, he's talking about whether or not you love this country and appreciate it," Hegseth said, adding that those who do not "appreciate" or "love" the United States can go elsewhere.
Visibly taken aback by the host's suggestion, Rivera yelled "what the hell" at his colleague, proceeding to point out that all four congresswomen are American citizens.
"Intolerable -- you cannot say that," Rivera shot back.
"You could totally say it," Hegseth insisted.
"You can't say it to me," Rivera -- who is of Puerto Rican heritage -- told the host.
"Well, I could say it to you," Hegseth responded.
The exchange prompted Rivera to discuss his own experience with racism. The correspondent, who was born in New York, recounted how he would get into street fights with people telling him to go back to his own country.
The rest of the panel appeared unfazed by Rivera's story, with Hegseth insisting that President Trump's remarks were not racist, but that he was instead targeting the representatives because of their "lack of gratitude."
"A lot of people aren't grateful to be here. Gratitude is not a requirement of citizenship," Rivera repliedAs previously reported by The Inquisitr, after appearing to disavow the chant aimed at Omar, Trump renewed his attacks on the representatives, accusing them of racism and anti-semitism.
The president even said that first lady Melania Trump agrees with him, claiming that the congresswomen had used the phrase "evil Jews." Neither of them has ever done so, however, although some have criticized the Israeli government's policies.
Trump has also parroted a far-right conspiracy theory about Omar, which claims that the congresswoman had married her brother in order to help him obtain U.S. citizenship.