"You can't demean her," Rivera told Katie Pavlich, who claimed the vice president was only elected because of her "gender and skin color"

By Sean Neumann
June 09, 2021 04:31 PM
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Geraldo Rivera
Geraldo Rivera
| Credit: Roy Rochlin/Getty

Fox News correspondent-at-large Geraldo Rivera this week pushed back on colleague Katie Pavlich's criticism of Vice President Kamala Harris, telling his co-host not to "demean" her.

The tense exchange on Fox News' program The Five happened on Tuesday night during a discussion about the vice president's trip this week to Guatemala and Mexico to address migration, one of the major challenges facing the administration so far.

Harris, 56, has been tasked by President Joe Biden to lead the White House's work on this issue - and the job has drawn much attention, as well as much scrutiny from both sides of the aisle.

"If you want to address the needs of a people, you must meet those people, you must spend time with those people, because the only way you can actually fix the problem is to understand the problem," Harris said this week, telling reporters: "It must be priority for us to understand why people leave. I cannot say it enough: Most people don't want to leave home."

Progressives, however, have slammed Harris for telling Guatemalan migrants "do not come" to the U.S. border, while conservative said the Biden administration wasn't focusing enough on the southern border. 

Pavlich, 32, joined that criticism on Tuesday.

"This is what happens when you choose your vice president based on gender and skin color rather than actual talent and expertise," she said. "We're seeing that disaster unfold right now."

Rivera, who was on the five-person panel as a guest host, quickly called out his colleague's remark.

"That's so mean," he said. "Oh, it's mean."

Pavlich responded: "It's true."

"She was the attorney general of the state of California. She was a United States senator," Rivera said. "You can't demean her."

Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris
| Credit: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty

Harris, who ran for president herself last year, became the first woman, first Black person and first person of Asian descent to be sworn in as vice president in January. She has faced racist and sexist insults.

Rivera, a veteran news correspondent, was also critical of Harris's trip to Central America this week but took a different tone.

The trip "has been a disaster," he argued, adding that he thinks Harris "really has blown it."

But Rivera was interrupted by an off-camera scoff from one of his co-hosts when he defended Harris against dismissive criticism.

"I deeply really admire her," Rivera said, before the audible scoff briefly interrupted him. "No, I do," he continued. "She's a historic figure."

Harris arrived back in the U.S. early Wednesday morning after traveling to meet with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to discuss the roots of migration, including extreme weather, economic development and hunger.