Fox's Geraldo Rivera: "What is clear is that the nation was not ready for a black president"

President Obama "failed utterly" to "deal with the legacy of the Civil War" and with "benign neglect made it worse"

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published January 12, 2016 8:10PM (EST)

                (Fox News)
(Fox News)

Fox News' Geraldo Rivera was Tuesday's "One Lucky Guy" on the network's "Outnumbered" midday hit and shared his unpopular opinion with the conservative female co-hosts ahead of President Obama's seventh and final State of the Union address Tuesday evening.

"I think, and this just strictly my constitutionally-protected opinion, and I know you'll get mad at me, but I think this. I think that what is clear is that the nation was not ready for a black president," the Fox News contributor argued after co-hosts Andrea Tantaros and Melissa Francis posited that two terms with Obama at the helm has weakened the United States.

"[M]illions of Americans not working, have given up looking for work," Tantaros offered. "People's premiums going through the roof with Obamacare, so lot of economic ennui."

"[T]hey really tried the trickle down approach where you trickle down -- you know, Speaker Paul Ryan was talking about this earlier today, where money sort of trickles down from the government, both to the fed -- you know, from the fed and also in the form of government spending," co-host and Fox Business analyst Francis added, lamenting Obama's economic policies. "Things haven't gotten a lot better for families."

But Rivera argued that despite substantive policy disagreements, the real divisions made clear during the Obama presidency fall along racial lines:

When you strip away all of the gun rights and the, you know, terror all rest of it, what you have essentially is a nation divided between white people and everybody else in broad strokes. When you look at the groups that overwhelmingly favor the Democrats right now, the Asians, the Hispanics, the African-Americans, the Muslims, you see a nation where people have largely chosen up sides and if you strip away everything else, what you are going to find is a racial divide. It's biggest, unaddressed issue.

But "Muslim is a religion, it is a belief in Islam, it is not a race," co-host and lone African-American Harris Faulkner retorted. "To say it is as simplistic as race is not even fair," she argued, criticizing the president for failing to adequately address "black-on-black crime" in Chicago. "I mean really Geraldo, it can't just be about color," she emphatically implored. "Because otherwise we get nothing done."

Rivera finally relented and charged that Obama had failed to confront race relations head-on as the first African-American president. "If I was this president," the Fox News personality offered, "I would have said 'I'm going to deal with this race. I'm going to deal with the legacy of the Civil War. The Civil War is over. The North/South divide -- I would have made that the central focus of my president were I him."

"He failed utterly," Rivera concluded, and by "benign neglect made it worse."

Watch the heated debate, via Media Matters:

Obama Takes a Stroll Before Final State of the Union

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

MORE FROM Sophia Tesfaye

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aol_on Civil War Fox News Geraldo Rivera Outnumbered President Obama Race Relations Video