Defending Donald Trump’s repeated racist taunts at Democratic congresswomen of color, Fox News host Pete Hegseth told correspondent-at-large Geraldo Rivera on Friday morning that it would be perfectly fine for him to utilize the president’s “go back to where you came from” message on him.
A day after Trump sorta disavowed the racist “send her back!” chant his rally crowd launched at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rivera appeared on Fox & Friends and said he was “glad the president has said” he didn’t like the chants. At the same time, Rivera noted that the president’s original tweets targeting the “Squad” tapped into an “old racist trope,” something the longtime Trump pal had criticized the president for days earlier.
“Geraldo, but you, like many, have accused him of racism,” Hegseth replied. “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. And if you don’t appreciate it and don’t love it, and don’t want to work to make it better, then maybe you could consider going somewhere else. There’s plenty of countries on Earth.”
Rivera, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, shot back at his colleague, yelling “what the hell” before pointing out that all four congresswomen—Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Omar—are citizens of the United States. Hegseth, meanwhile, said he would have no problem if someone personally told him he could love it or leave it.
“Intolerable—you cannot say that,” Rivera responded.
“You could totally say it,” Hegseth, an informal adviser to Trump, asserted.
“You can’t say it to me,” Rivera fired back.
“Well, I could say it to you,” the Fox & Friends host countered.
Rivera went on to recount the number of “street fights” he had in his younger years because he’s Puerto Rican, claiming he routinely heard people telling him to go back to where he came from even though he was born in New York. Hegseth brushed that off while continuing to insist that Trump is not referencing race but instead the lawmakers’ “principles” and “lack of gratitude.”
“A lot of people aren’t grateful to be here,” Rivera declared. “Gratitude is not a requirement of citizenship.”