Hostin broke ranks with the former commander-in-chief on Wednesday’s episode by disagreeing with remarks stemming from a recent interview on the Snapchat show “Good Luck America” during which Obama called the movement a “snappy slogan” that was hurting its own cause.
“I guess you can use a snappy slogan like ‘defund the police,’ but you know you lose a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely you’re going to get the changes you want done,” he said.
In response to Obama’s comments, Hostin said on Dec. 2 that while she was a fan of Obama, she felt he needed criticizing in this instance because he was wrong. “I’m always loath to criticize President Obama because I’m such a fan, but I do think he’s wrong here,” she began in response to co-host Whoopi Goldberg asking if Obama has a point.
“When you think about ‘defund the police,’ that’s not a term that was crowdsourced or tested in focus groups. You know, that’s a term that was born, a rallying cry, it was born out of this over-policing of Black and Brown communities,” Hostin added.
She noted that “defund the police” has been widely misconstrued as “eliminating police departments, stripping agencies for all of their money.”
“It’s the reimagining of policing in this country to address systematic racism,” Hostin said.
She added, “We defund school programs all the time, and they call it defunding school programs, yet no one seems to have a problem with that, but people all of a sudden have a problem with defunding the police.”
“I don’t think you should allow people to co-op the movement and tell protesters what language they should use,” Hostin continued.
She reminded viewers that Obama was once a community organizer and said he should have known better than to use the terminology he did.
After the interview aired, Obama received swift pushback from other supporters of the movement, particularly members of his own party.
Cori Bush, the first Black woman elected to represent Missouri in Congress, took exception to Obama using the word slogan, posting on Twitter, “With all due respect, Mr. President—let’s talk about losing people. We lost Michael Brown Jr. We lost Breonna Taylor. We’re losing our loved ones to police violence.”
“It’s not a slogan. It’s a mandate for keeping our people alive. Defund the police.”
Rep. IIhan Omar of Minnesota was also in opposition to his comments, writing in a tweet, “We lose people in the hands of police. It’s not a slogan but a policy demand.”
Kentucky state Rep. Charles Booker also reacted on Twitter with, “We didn’t lose Breonna because of a slogan.”
Following the outcry, Ben LaBolt, Obama’s former press secretary and communications strategist, shared a section of the interview on Twitter to offer more context.
In the passage, Obama suggested a different approach to “defund the police.”
“If you instead say, Hey, you know what? Let’s reform the police department so that everybody’s being treated fairly,’” the excerpt reads.
He added, “The key is deciding, do you want to actually get something done, or do you want to feel good among the people you already agree with?”