Elisabeth Hasselbeck has come under fire this week for comments she made during an interview with a police officer regarding Sandra Bland, the African-American woman who allegedly committed suicide in her jail cell after being arrested for a routine traffic stop. Now, her former View co-hosts have come to her defense, wondering whether the same questions asked by Matt Lauer would have drawn the same amount of ire.
Hasselbeck asked a former New York City police officer whether he thinks the arresting officer crossed the line, and whether it’s possible he thought he was in danger when Bland refused to put out her cigarette.
“There are times, I’m sure, someone in the history of this land has used a cigarette against a police officer. Maybe chucked it at him? Pushed it at him?” Hasselbeck asked.
After social media blew up with viewers wondering why Elisabeth would pose that question–and whether it was racially motivated–Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie Perez took the opportunity on their show to defend her, saying they don’t believe her comments were racist at all.
“I didn’t find it offensive at all. I felt like she was asking a provocative question as a journalist on a news program and if Matt Lauer had asked this question, would we still be having this conversation?” Perez said.
Bland allegedly hanged herself in her jail cell after the arrest, but many don’t believe she took her own life, including members of her family. Dashcam video from the arresting officer’s car was recently released, and a recording from the jail’s surveillance cameras show that Bland was alive when she was brought in for her mugshot, something that has been disputed and speculated about at length online in recent days.