Geraldo Rivera loves to talk. The self-styled “militant moderate” and veteran newsman has made a career out of talking, not all of it appreciated. With a seemingly innocuous new interview, he just might have ignited a war of words with the hip-hop community.
The Fox News correspondent took aim at rap culture during a half-hour Q&A on his spell with NBC’s 14th edition of “Celebrity Apprentice,” which saw him place second overall to Leeza Gibbons.
As Rivera was sharing his political views, he changed tac and took a crack at hip-hop. “Hip-hop has done more damage to black and brown people than racism in the last 10 years,” Rivera said during the chat with HuffPost Live host Josh Zepps. “When you find the youngster — a Puerto Rican from the South Bronx or a black kid from Harlem who has succeeded in life other than being the one-tenth of one-tenth of one percent that make it in the music business — that’s been a success in life walking around with his pants around his ass and with visible tattoos…it is this whole ethos,” he said.
And with no prompting, Rivera then singled out Def Jam records co-founder Russell Simmons. “I love Russell Simmons, he’s a dear friend of mine. I admire his business acumen,” Rivera noted. “At some point, those guys have to cop to the fact that by encouraging this distinctive culture that is removed from the mainstream, they have encouraged people to be so different from the mainstream that they can’t participate other than, you know, the racks in the garment center and those entry-level jobs. And I lament it. I really do. I think that it has been very destructive culturally.”
Rivera, who has enjoyed a solid (and ongoing) career on the small screen, and had earlier stints both as a lawyer and as a law-enforcement officer, has history with Simmons. The long-time friends hit a rough patch in 2012 when Rivera declared on Fox News that the late Trayvon Martin had made himself a target by wearing a hooded sweatshirt and appearing “gangsta.” Rivera later apologized, but it wasn’t enough for Simmons, who responded, “Geraldo, your apology is bull—! Your apology is nothing but a defense of a racist, backward thing you already said.”
You feel it’s only a matter of time before Geraldo is name-checked in a hip-hop track.
Watch Rivera’s latest hip-hop comments below.