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If you come for Sunny Hostin, you best not miss. Monday morning on The View, co-host Sara Haines was reminded of that fact when Hostin shut her down during a discussion about Kyle Rittenhouse, who was found not guilty of shooting three people and killing two in Kenosha, Wisconsin last summer. After Haines took the conservative position as she argued the situation "was a pretty cut and dry case of self-defense," Hostin, a former prosecutor, insisted that it is not, from both a legal and social justice perspective. "This is a bellwether of where we are as a country," said Hostin. "People now will think, well, somebody can legally come to a protest and under the cover of law kill me."
The View ended just a few hours before the Rittenhouse verdict was announced on Friday, so it was clear that the topic would be first up on Monday's show. After Joy Behar said she's afraid Rittenhouse "has opened Pandora's Box for some crazies," guest co-host Kristen Soltis Anderson, a Republican pollster and political commentator, said that Americans received "very different sets of facts about the case" over the course of the three-week trial. "They may know a little bit, but they probably don't know that the thing that got thrown at Kyle Rittenhouse at the beginning of all of this was a plastic bag. That's what instigated some of this," said Soltis Anderson. "But there are also people that don't know that the person who he first shot wasn't there protesting to try to reform the Kenosha Police Department — [he] was a disturbed man who was there, sort of, instigating some violence toward him. Shouting him, shouting slurs at the crowd. The only people that really got all the facts in this case were the jury, and they didn't come to a rushed decision. They spent days deliberating on this."
Haines then jumped in to agree with Soltis Anderson, saying that Rittenhouse's first victim, Joseph Rosenbaum, was "threatening" Rittenhouse. "They didn't show up at a peaceful protest. The protest had been during the day. What this was was a part where there were fires and some rioting, and bad faith actors like Rosenbaum, who I'm not saying deserves to be dead. But I think there's more to this story," said Haines. "If you watch the headlines, I'm a little shocked at how quickly everyone jumped to a certain story, that if you read into it, there were different facts ... Legally speaking, in Wisconsin, this was a pretty cut and dry case of self-defense, because in the videos — this is no longer just witness testimony — the videos show him running each time and turning around."
The argument earned Haines a sharp rebuke from Hostin that even lasted through a commercial break. "I disagree that it was a cut and dry case of self-defense," she said. "I think that when you, certainly, go to a place with an AR-15-style weapon and you shoot someone and you're running away from that shooting and people are running after you because they think you're an active shooter, I don't know that that is a cut and dry self-defense case as to the second person and third person."
IS THE NATION DIVIDED OVER RITTENHOUSE VERDICT? The co-hosts and guest co-host @KSoltisAnderson react to Kyle Rittenhouse being acquitted on all charges and him saying the case has "nothing to do with race" in his first interview since the trial. https://t.co/cVclFZQmjA pic.twitter.com/kwqoKsnGkG— The View (@TheView) November 22, 2021
Hostin went on to counter Haines' depiction of the "riots" in Kenosha. "There were four days of protests, right? Jacob Blake was shot on Sunday seven times, and he's paralyzed because of that," she said. "On Monday, there were protests, and there were a very small group — they say it's about 1% of the crowd — started burning some buildings. Yes, no question about it, and started ransacking some buildings. Martin Luther King said that a riot is the voice of the unheard, and I think that's what we saw. Tuesday, when this happened, just two days after the shooting, the protestors were corralled by the police and they were shot and tear-gassed."
Moderator Whoopi Goldberg interrupted Hostin to send the show to commercial, but after the break, she was given a chance to continue, and boy, did she. "This has been framed as all rioting, and that's just not the case," she said, briefly running through the timeline again. "On Tuesday, that's what Kyle Rittenhouse was going to do. He was going to 'protect property,' apparently it was a used car lot. He had no affiliation with that car lot, no ownership interest, but that's what he was responding to."
"On that Tuesday, there were police members that were, I guess, firing shots of rubber bullets, fake bullets, and also tear gas at protestors, trying to disperse the crowd because they had imposed a curfew, and that is what Kyle Rittenhouse started," continued Hostin. "So, the notion that this was a 'riot,' that there were days and days of riots, is just not an accurate framing."
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Claire Spellberg Lustig is the TV Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.