CNN host Chris Cuomo and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway butted heads Thursday night in a contentious interview on Cuomo's show.
In addition to NFL protests and President Donald Trump's numerous scandals, the two argued over the White House's statements regarding the murder of Mollie Tibbetts, whose killer--Cristhian Bahena Rivera--is believed to be an undocumented immigrant.
The White House has not shied away from exploiting Tibbetts's death for their own political advantage.
Donald Trump recently posted a video on Twitter in which he lamented that the "incredible young woman, is now permanently separated from her family." The president's odd word choice was taken by many as an attempt by Trump to use Tibbetts's death to justify his widely-abhorred policy of separating undocumented families attempting to cross the Southern border.
https://t.co/wYCNmkkaNR— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1534976697.0
The White House released another video in which it blames undocumented immigrants for family separation, once again invoking Tibbetts's murder.
For 34 days, investigators searched for 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts. Yesterday, an illegal alien, now charged with… https://t.co/cNl7A0x6GU— The White House (@The White House) 1534962830.0
With these statements in mind, Cuomo confronted Conway directly, accusing the White House of "hijacking her grief."
Stop giving Kellyanne Conway any airtime. All she wants to do is spew garbage, but kudos to @ChrisCuomo for standin… https://t.co/p6rZNIpH0k— Zack Ford (@Zack Ford) 1535119544.0
After Conway said "God rest her soul" referring to Tibbetts, Cuomo shot back:
"You're not letting her soul rest, you're waving her like a flag!"
Many on Twitter approved:
Guess @KellyannePolls thought she was talking with soulless maggot @TuckerCarlson when she unashamedly defend… https://t.co/OnjDqtSbpv— Sean Huze (@Sean Huze) 1535104490.0
Chris Cuomo is eating Kellyanne Conway’s liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti on #CNN right now.— Aaron T. Starks 🌊 (@Aaron T. Starks 🌊) 1535073036.0
@ZackFord @ChrisCuomo This, this, a thousand times this!— ⚧ We R The Squirrels ⚧ (@⚧ We R The Squirrels ⚧) 1535119871.0
What's more, Tibbetts's family and friends have spoken out against the White House and others using her death at the hands of one man to vilify immigrants everywhere. Breck Goodman, a friend of Tibbetts, said at a vigil in Iowa:
I also know what Mollie stood for ... and she would not approve. So I don’t want her death to be used as propaganda. I don’t want her death to be used for more prejudice and for more discrimination, and I don’t think she would want that, either.
Cuomo's ire echoes the feelings of Tibbetts's own family, members of whom have spoken out against the exploitation of her death by conservatives. Tibbetts's second cousin took to Twitter on Tuesday criticizing conservative commentator Candace Owens for her statements on the Democrats' reaction to Tibbetts's death.
hey i’m a member of mollie’s family and we are not so fucking small-minded that we generalize a whole population ba… https://t.co/4dhcVdulfE— sam (@sam) 1534896750.0
Their arguments have been bolstered by the resurfacing of many liberal tweets from Tibbetts herself.
Tweets from Tibbetts that have been resurrected since her murder do well to assure that she wouldn't want her death used to justify discrimination.
She routinely tweeted sentiments that were pro-immigration and also called out the president's own hypocrisy.
@caitlinesmith17 5. He’s married to an immigrant— Mollie Tibbetts (@Mollie Tibbetts) 1531746972.0
I hate white people https://t.co/vNNhvpl98e— Mollie Tibbetts (@Mollie Tibbetts) 1513137485.0
We have all of these things now PLUS equality and ability to date who you want. Amazing 🤗 https://t.co/5e5tjYxNHM— Mollie Tibbetts (@Mollie Tibbetts) 1505866084.0
When it comes to public speaking, comparing Hillary and Trump is like comparing the NFL and flag football— Mollie Tibbetts (@Mollie Tibbetts) 1476928880.0
Tbh if a piece of bread ran for president in this election I'd probably vote for it🇺🇸🍞— Mollie Tibbetts (@Mollie Tibbetts) 1469482212.0
Tragically, many members of the far right are using these tweets not as an indication of the values Tibbetts stood for, but as an instance to pat themselves on the back for being "right" about what they believe led to Tibbetts's murder. The comments seem to diametrically oppose the angle of compassion White House spokespeople like Kellyanne Conway are trying to portray.
@Motibbs @caitlinesmith17 Looks like an illegal one took you u out— Rodney Garrett (@Rodney Garrett) 1534904130.0
And they're harassing her friends as well.
@caitlinesmith17 @Motibbs Still think he's dumb? He's trying to protect actual American citizens. Legal American Ci… https://t.co/Ad4dF5Tf5M— James Gibbs 🇺🇸 (@James Gibbs 🇺🇸) 1534891822.0
Like Cuomo, many see the White House's actions as an effort to reduce Tibbetts' murder to a talking point in an effort to defend policies thought by many to be indefensible--policies that Tibbetts is documented to have detested. The country would do well to remember her aunt Billie Jo Calderwood's words in a now-removed Facebook post: "Evil comes in EVERY color."