Texas Lt. gov accuses CNN, MSNBC of being ‘accomplices’ in death of Mollie Tibbetts

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) on Thursday accused various media outlets of being "accomplices" in the death of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts, prompting fierce pushback from Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera.

During an appearance on Fox News’s “America’s Newroom,” Patrick accused CNN, MSNBC and Rivera of being responsible for Tibbetts's death, arguing that the left and news media have been “playing politics” on immigration laws, costing people their lives.

Patrick weighed in after an immigrant named Cristhian Bahena Rivera was charged with murder this week in connection to the death of Tibbetts, 20, who had been missing for more than a month before authorities discovered her body this week.

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“The CNNs, MSNBCs, most of the print media and Democrats are all accomplices in the death of this young girl and the death of everyone else,” Patrick declared on Fox.

“Even Geraldo Rivera,” Patrick continued. “I’ve never met the guy. Seems like he has a good heart. I saw him on here Fox saying, ‘I feel badly about this but...’ There is no ‘but.’"

"I’ll be happy to debate Geraldo Rivera any time, any place, anywhere on this issue.”

Rivera took to Twitter following the segment to accept Patrick's challenge for a debate while blasting his rhetoric.

"@DanPatrick claims outrageously that I'm effectively an accomplice to horrifying murder of #mollytibbetts because I beg compassion & mercy for undocumented immigrants-How dare he make so false an allegation? He is fear-mongering & I accept his challenge for debate. @seanhannity," Rivera tweeted. 

Tibbetts, who was a student at the University of Iowa, was last seen July 18 jogging in the town of Brooklyn, Iowa.

Her death has reignited the debate over immigration after it was reported that her accused killer, Cristhian Rivera, is an immigrant without legal status.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE has cited Tibbetts's death multiple times over the past week to call for stricter immigration laws and defend U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

"[Mollie Tibbetts] was killed by a horrible person that came in from Mexico, illegally here, found by ICE, our great ICE who’s abused by the Democrats and the left, and without them you might not be sitting here so comfortably right now," Trump told "Fox & Friends" host Ainsley Earhardt during an interview that aired Thursday.

"I just think it's so sad. We're building the wall. It's already started. ... The wall is going up. A lot of people don't know that. I'd like to build it even faster, but dealing with the Democrats is very tough," Trump said.

Cristhian Rivera’s attorney Allen Richards has denied that his client was in the country illegally and called Trump “sad and sorry” for weighing in on the matter and potentially tainting a jury selection.

Billie Jo Calderwood, Tibbetts’s aunt, seemed to push back against her niece’s death being used to discuss illegal immigration.

"I don't want Mollie's memory to get lost amongst politics," Calderwood told CNN.

"It's not about race, it's about people joining together to do good," Calderwood said in a similar message on Facebook, adding that “Evil comes in EVERY color.”