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The women of The View began Friday's show on a heavy note as they discussed former Empire star Jussie Smollett, who was found guilty on five of six counts for filing a false police report related to the hoax racist attack he suffered in January 2019. Even after the jury came down with the verdict, Smollett maintained his innocence, a move that the co-hosts feel is unwise given the situation. "What I would like to see when he arrives before the sentencing judge is complete contrition and penance," said Sunny Hostin. "If he gets there, then I think there is a place for forgiveness in our country."
"When it first happened, it was unimaginable to anybody that it could be a hoax," said Ana Navarro. "I think that for a lot of us, it read as believable that there could be hate crimes, because there are hate crimes against minorities and against LGBTQ [people]. The big message that should come out for everybody out of this is that it should not deter people who are the victims of real hate crimes from reporting them."
Navarro went on to say that Smollett should "accept responsibility, pay back the city of Chicago for all the time and resources they spent investigating this false accusation, and to show a little humility and remorse" for his role in the attack. "Sentencing is coming, and he keeps sticking to the story when there's a copy of the check he paid these brothers to beat him up."
Guest co-host Laverne Cox then stepped in to say a few kind words about Smollett. "Full disclosure, Jussie is a dear friend of mine. I love him so much. I still don't want to believe this," she said. "In his own testimony he said there was drugs involved — I don't have any evidence that he is addicted to drugs, but we know that when drugs are involved, people don't always make the best decisions, and they don't always surround themselves with the best people, places, and things."
"Hopefully, he will start surrounding himself with better people, places, and things. I think of Robert Downey Jr., who battled drugs publicly many years ago and has turned his life around," continued Cox. "I'm sending Jussie love. I'm sending his family love. And I just wish him the best."
JUSSIE SMOLLETT FOUND GUILTY OF HATE CRIME HOAX: #TheView co-hosts and @Lavernecox react to a Chicago jury finding actor Jussie Smollett guilty on five of six counts for filing a false police report in a hoax racist attack on himself in 2019. https://t.co/7N4YQPvR6x pic.twitter.com/4uGuRrss3n— The View (@TheView) December 10, 2021
After Sara Haines accused "leaders" (the implication being Democratic leaders) of speaking up "immediately in defense before knowing everything" following Smollett's attack, Navarro not-so-subtly accused her of missing the point. "I saw yesterday a lot of reaction on that point on Twitter of people wanting to 'own the liberals' who had reacted in support of Jussie Smollett. Well yesterday, also, Josh Duggar got convicted, found guilty, of child pornography. And guess what? There are pictures all over, all online, of him with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee," said Navarro. "Here's the bottom line. It is not their fault that Josh Duggar was a pornographer, and they didn't know. And it's not Kamala Harris' fault or Joe Biden's fault or Cory Booker's fault or anybody's fault that their natural reaction was to empathize with somebody who we all, at first, thought was the victim of a hate crime. Can we focus on the guilty parties?"
Finally, Sunny Hostin got a chance to chime in, and she echoed what Navarro said earlier about the importance of believing victims. "What I hope, really, is to see some contrition. Because sentencing is coming up, and we know he is facing as much as three years in prison," she said, adding that she wants Smollett to admit that he "made the wrong decisions" and "lied" and ask for forgiveness.
Elsewhere on The View... Joy Behar managed to lighten the mood when she said age doesn't matter, so long as you can perform "in the sack." Oh, Joy.
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Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.