Geraldo Rivera: Hip-Hop Is 'Very Destructive Culturally'

"Hip-hop has done more damage to black and brown people than racism in the last 10 years," talk show host tells HuffPost Live

Geraldo Rivera, Celebrity Apprentice runner-up and the discoverer of Al Capone's empty secret vaults, made some controversial statements about hip-hop during a long conversation with HuffPost Live's Josh Zepps. After discussing embattled NBC News anchor Brian Williams and how "boring" MSNBC is, Rivera – who admittedly leans liberal – went into a tirade about rap music, calling it "very destructive culturally." The conversation about rap music begins at 22:00 in the above video.

"Hip-hop has done more damage to black and brown people than racism in the last 10 years," Rivera said. "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 or with visible tattoos."

Rivera then took aim at Russell Simmons, the co-founder of Def Jam who has been less involved in hip-hop in recent years. "This whole ethos, and I love Russell Simmons – he's a dear friend of mine, I admire his business acumen – at some point though, those guys need 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 the racks in the garment center and those entry level jobs," Rivera said. "I lament it; I really do. I think it's been very destructive culturally."

According to Billboard, Rivera and Simmons briefly beefed in 2012 after Rivera told Fox News that Trayvon Martin made himself a target by wearing a hooded sweatshirt, adding that his clothing made him look "gangsta." After the talk show host apologized for his distasteful statements, Simmons responded, "Geraldo, your apology is bullshit! Your apology is nothing but a defense of a racist, backward thing you already said." 

Zepps, stunned by Rivera's comments, informs Rivera there are a lot of reasons besides rap music that there is "alienation in minority communities," but Rivera responds, "Fashion plays a part."