The smiling face of cable TV’s female ex-prosecutors!


As goes Nancy Grace, so goes Sunny Hostin: Sunny Hostin is very telegenic. On TV, she’s also exceptionally personable, charming, extremely pleasant.

That’s what made her recent performances on CNN so puzzling. Hostin, a former federal prosecutor, served on Anderson Cooper’s legal panel during the Zimmerman trial. She was on the air every night.

Hostin is exceptionally pleasant. She also felt that every bit of evidence, bar none, pointed directly to Zimmerman’s guilt.

This made for a strange combination.

Nancy Grace is the patron saint of cable TV’s female former prosecutors. That said, Grace is visibly semi-crazy. She even has an iconic story about how she got that way. (In 1979, her fiancé was murdered.)

Hostin isn’t like that. That’s what makes her relentless judgments seem so strange.

How strange were those judgments during the Zimmerman trial? Below, you see a CNN transcript from all the way back in March 2012, when the case had just gone national.

Recordings of the 911 calls had been released two or three days earlier. Speaking with Brooke Baldwin, Hostin gets confused as to what clothing Martin and Zimmerman were wearing.

In fact, she gets the clothing reversed. Zimmerman was wearing red that night. Mistakenly, Hostin thinks it was Martin.

But so what? For people in the Nancy Grace mold, everything proves the accused party's guilt. Hostin is sure that that her bungled evidence proves that she just “heard a murder:”
BALDWIN (3/19/12): Sunny, I just want to bring you in. As a former federal prosecutor, what's your reaction, just visceral reaction in listening to those multiple calls to 911?

HOSTIN: I'm saddened, Brooke. I'm saddened not only as a former prosecutor, but as a mother. But the bottom line is, it completely disproves this self-defense claim. It tells me that this child was murdered in cold blood and there are several witnesses to that murder.

You know, I heard so many people in law enforcement talk about the fact that the, you know, that there aren't any witnesses to disprove this self-defense claim made by Zimmerman. Well, that is not true. First of all, prosecutors try homicide cases, Brooke, every single day without the victim, OK, because the victim is dead. And so to say that the self-defense claim cannot be disproved, for law enforcement officials in Florida to say that, I think is just so ludicrous. And I'm angered by what I've heard and I'm saddened.

BALDWIN: I hear the anger but I just have to ask, what is it about these calls? What did you hear that says cold-blooded murder?

HOSTIN: Yes, and I've heard all of the calls, actually, because they've all been released, in addition to the few that we've played.


HOSTIN: And the bottom line is, you hear a warning shot, Brooke, and then you hear a voice pleading and a cry. And then you hear another voice and you hear the pleading stop. So that— And you also have these other people saying that the man in the white shirt—which is what Zimmerman was wearing, we know that Trayvon Martin was wearing a red sweatshirt—that the man in the white shirt was on top of the other person. And so that tells me that he was on top of this boy, young boy, not even an adult, an unarmed young boy, takes a step back and shoots him in the chest.

You cannot avail yourself of a self-defense claim when you are the first aggressor, you start a fight, even if you're losing it. You cannot avail yourself of that.

And so in hearing all of these tapes, I’m convinced that I’ve heard a murder. That, and a murderer that is walking around our streets free without being arrested. And so I’m just—I’m horrified.
Hostin says she heard two shots. In fact, only one shot was fired. But Hostin proceeds with the lurid tale involving the alleged warning shot, followed by cold-blooded murder.

More strikingly for present purposes, note what she says about the clothing the two parties were wearing that night.

Plainly, Hostin had the basic evidence mixed up at this point. In fact, it was Zimmerman who was wearing red that night. Somehow, Hostin had it in her head that Martin was wearing red.

(On March 14, 2012, she had said on CNN that Martin was wearing "a red hoodie" that night.)

Hostin had the basic facts inverted in her mind. But remember the basic rule: For people in the Nancy Grace mold, every single bit of evidence proves the accused party’s guilt!

In this case, Hostin mistakenly thinks she has heard two shots, and she has the evidence of the clothing reversed. But so what? This bungled evidence convinces her that she has just “heard a murder.”

Everybody makes mistakes. But in the world of cable ex-prosecutors, it doesn’t really matter who was wearing red. By the basic rules of the game, everything points to the accused party’s guilt. Everything proves that he did it.

Does cable feature male ex-prosecutors so absurdly one-sided? There are quite a few female ex-prosecutors who seem to have followed in Grace’s wake. We can’t think of a male ex-prosecutor who works from such an unmistakable template on a cable program. (Cable producers may prefer this kind of casting.)

By the way, did Hostin ever correct her misstatement about what the clothing help prove? She was on CNN every day in March 2012, often on several programs in the course of the day. Using Nexis, we find no sign that she ever corrected her groaning mistake about the two parties’ clothing—a mistake which led her to say, on the air, that she had just “heard a murder.”

Nancy Grace has convicted quite a few innocent people in her years on TV. During the Elizabeth Smart case, she got an innocent party thrown into jail, where he died of a medical condition.

(Later, Smart was found—and with her, the real guilty party.)

That said, Nancy Grace seems crazy. Hostin is a puzzle. What’s it like to be so outwardly pleasant and yet to be so deeply devoted to getting folk thrown into prison, preferably for life?

Hostin had the clothing reversed. Like everything else on the face of the earth, this proved the accused party did it!

Later that week: Later that week, Hostin started saying that the Sanford police hadn’t kept Zimmerman’s clothing for forensic testing. This became a standard claim on the various hang-him-high channels.

This was proof that the Sanford police had just been screwing around!

Uh-oh! As it turned out, the Sanford police had kept Zimmerman’s clothing. Repeatedly, Hostin traced her false claim to the Martin attorneys.

False. As in, not true.


  1. We know that eyewitness accounts are unreliable, what must second-hand accounts be?

    They are not relevant or hearsay.

    The speculative scenarios that the defense presented were from GZ's perspective, without corroborating testimony.

    An emotional response to an apparent grave injustice is as understandable as mistakes in details. Of course, a proper news source would write a retraction for errors

    1. "An emotional response to an apparent grave injustice is as understandable as mistakes in details."

      This is circular. The apparent grave injustice is created from the mistakes in details.

    2. I am so torn.

      Half of me wants to applaud: "The apparent grave injustice is created from the mistakes in details." Yes, EXACTLY. "Created from the mistakes." True.

      And another half wants to play the cynic, to mock the idiots: "The apparent grave injustice is created from the mistakes in details." Now that's just condescending!!

      Guess I'll try to have it both ways.

    3. "The speculative scenarios that the defense presented were from GZ's perspective, without corroborating testimony."

      Jonathon Good. Photos of the back of Zimmerman's head, taken the night of the killing.

      Corroborating? Possibly enough for reasonable doubt.

  2. Sunny Hostin, according to Wikipedia, is both Puerto Rican and partially black by heritage. I hate of course to notice it, but this is a case in which those facts seem to be all one needs to know to predict the views of an individual on the Zimmerman case -- except in the highly unusual case that the individual is not only "of color", but also an acknowledged conservative, in which case their views go in the contrary direction.

    Who knew that in Obama's post-racial America, an utterly irrational opinion can be perfectly predicted by the color of one's skin?

    1. Oh bullshit.

      Most of the Zimmerman-outraged folks I know are white liberals.

      Also, most of the people who see through irrationality -- mostly white.

      Because mostly, I know white folks.

      Can't predict their opinions on skin color. Can't see why I should believe you're right about most black folks, either.

    2. Quaker in a BasementJuly 25, 2013 at 7:45 PM

      Because mostly, I know white folks.

      Really? That's very surprising given your* extensively demonstrated understanding of what black people think, what black people experience, and how they might improve their lives.

      *Assuming you are the same Anonymous who spouts regularly here.

    3. Anonymous, white liberals are a tiny portion of the white population in America. The only whites that call Zimmerman racist and wanna-be cop are almost always white liberals.

      Don't cherry pick.

    4. Hey highly_ad. You hate to notice you are slamming all non-white people as irrational?
      Is that because by very definition of the term racist, your stated opinion applies that definition to you.

    5. Yes. I believe predictability skills applied to race is what made Jimmy the Greek great too. Of course he and that intellectual fellow traveller of yours from Iowa who is making headlines this week were focused on leg muscles, not just intellectual ability, like you are.

    6. Yeah, I get it anonymous.

      The predictions might be nearly 100% accurate, but it's racist to acknowledge these facts.

      Again, reality seems to have a racist bias. We can only escape racism by denying reality.

  3. marshall whittmannJuly 25, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    "Does cable feature male ex-prosecutors so absurdly one-sided."

    Yes: Andy Napolitano.

    1. Wow. Napolitano was never a prosecutor, and as a fanatical libertarian, he *frequently* sides with defendants against prosecutors.

  4. The anti-Zimmerman lynch mob should be proud of their latest achievement. Creating paranoia and misery on the part of black Americans who experienced less of it before the "progressives" invented a lie and shoveled it over the airways every day in an effort to boost their self esteem. Deplorable and deranged bunch.

    In the wake of the George Zimmerman case, U.S. views of race relations have taken a hit, and one-third of Americans say his acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin has shaken their confidence in the legal system, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

    Fifty-two percent of adults questioned said race relations in the U.S. are “very good” or “fairly good,” down from more than 70 percent who said that in NBC/WSJ polls between 2009 and 2011.

    1. Take a bow progressive race pimps.

      Do you think race relations in the US are
      African Americans


      57% fairly good to very good
      41% fairly bad to very bad


      38% fairly good to very good
      58% fairly bad to very bad

  5. Love the rhetoric of the new Somerby fan club. Lynch mob. Race pimps.

    An unarmed youth is shot to death walking home on a public sidewalk. Laws enacted by an NRA driven right wing Legislature are cited as a reason the shooter might get away arrest free. The family demands an arrest and a trial by jury, which occurs.

    Oh, and Bob, as a former teacher of mostly black pupils, I hope you enjoy the many references by your fan club that the hopes, fears, and feelings of black people in this country are drive by what "progressives" tell them to think. That's classic.

    Yeah, poor George Zimmerman. He is so dead from hanging caused by modern day black race pimps and their white liberal enablers. Bet he almost wishes it was him instead of Trayvon.

    Enjoy the good company, Bob.

    1. I hope you enjoy the many references by your fan club that the hopes, fears, and feelings of black people in this country are drive by what "progressives" tell them to think. That's classic.

      The hopes fears and feelings of many people including black people are driven by trusting professional race hustlers who lie to them, including those Bob has targeted in this case.

      You can jump up and down all you like and point your finger and call that assertion "racist" but you who participated in the attempted lynching have already been exposed for what you are and the "racist" charge just doesn't have the impact it once did before you proved yourselves to be such eager liars.

    2. Speaking of lies, "An unarmed youth is shot to death walking home on a public sidewalk." In fact a youth was shot to death as he attempted to murder or seriously injure another person.

    3. Did Bob use those terms? Did I use those terms? I'm a Bob fan. Why didn't I use those terms? Shouldn't I be racist?

    4. Let's go in reverse.

      A. Perez, I haven't followed your comments enough to know if you ever used those terms. Not here. But let's see who has:

      Lynch Mob: Anon@ 9:15, Anon@ 8:57
      Race Pimps: Anon@ 9:06
      Then there was the lovely Anon @ 11:00 who employed the milder "race hustlers" to rebut my earlier comment.

      I suspect the Anons @ 11:00 and 11:02 are one and the same so I'll take a two-fer.
      Yes, the paranoia and misery of black people are best measured by a snapshot public opinion poll asking a question about race relations. And attributing that outcome to a perjoratively labeled group of lynch mob progressives is certainly a rational assertion.

      And Anon. you have now accused Trayvon Martin of attempted murder based on nothing more than than the allegations of one decidedly self interested person who did commit a homicide moments before making the accusation. That, in these parts, is bordering on lynch mobbery.

      I have no doubt that being labeled a racist
      doesn't have any impact on you at all these days. Neither did it bother the old timey racists who enslaved people based on race or caused real lynchings and castrations based on race.

      Sorry folks. The lynch mob in this case wasn't demanding a man be put on trial because they thought he must be the guilty party simply because he was white. They were demanding he be put on trial because he shot someone to death and was not charged with what they felt was a crime. There was no question at all who pulled the trigger.

    5. "What they felt was a crime"

    6. Anon @ 12:55 AM

      Would you prefer it read "with a criminal violation of law for the act he committed when he shot the unarmed teen he had been following in the dark." ?

      Bob is always partly faulting the editors in his posts. I have none. You can be mine.

    7. lol, "anonymous" now makes up the "fact" that all Zimmerman defenders accused Trayvon of attempted murder, simply by being Zimmerman defenders.


    8. A. Perez

      I didn't call you racist or even attempt earlier to lump you in with the right wing rhetoric exhibited by the newest Somerby fans. But your last comment was truly idiotic.

    9. "with a criminal violation of law for the act he committed when he shot the unarmed teen he had been following in the dark."

      That's called "self defense" against someone beating your head into concrete, which is what was happening during the "act he committed when he followed (following would be legal if it did occur, by the way)"

      A crime and self defense can't exist in the same act.

      Some of the twisted logic around this case is concerning.

    10. Since you are twisting my words to prove twisted logic, we ought to get old Chubby Checker down here and twist again like we did last summer.

      Unfortunately for Zimmerman, nobody saw anyone beating his head against concrete.
      He said that happened. You choose to believe him.

      Following is legal. People follwing you can sometimes simply be headed in the same direction. But people who drive up behind you in a car, pull ahead, stop, park, and look at you when you walk by might arouse your suspicion. When they later get out of their car, in the dark on a rainy night, carrying something they are slapping around in their hand and continue to follow around corners, then you might suspect, without paranoia, they are following you with something less than benevolent intent. And if you are a cocky seventeen year old taught to "stand your ground" in a place you have every right to be, you might decide to duke that follower out.

      Now, the behavior of the person I just described who was being followed might be kind of like that of a young man in a bar, who upon hearing his friend had been physically jerked out of the bar by some big guy, went to help his friend. Words were spoken and he physically attacked the big guy molesting his friend. The big guy could have been armed and shot the young would be rescuer. Shot him dead in the heart. Would that be justified?

    11. "Unfortunately for Zimmerman, nobody saw anyone beating his head against concrete."

      Unicorns did it.

      "And if you are a cocky seventeen year old taught to "stand your ground" in a place you have every right to be, you might decide to duke that follower out"

      The problem with that is if you have 4 minutes to go away but you double back and initiate violence because you're a cocky young man, you grant your victim certain rights to defend himself and your claim of standing your ground will be shaky, while your target's claim will be made stronger.

      All of that is moot if you go as far as to block his exit and cause reasonable fear by breaking his nose and beating his head into concrete. At that point you've given him license to kill you.

      In your bar scenario, whether it would be justified would depend on whether the physically attacked person had a reasonable fear of serious injury or death. If he was on the ground getting his head beaten into concrete, screaming and underneath his assailant, chances are any jury will believe his fear was reasonable.

  6. I am sure the reason Sunny moved from the prosecution business to the TV business is because the pay is inversely proportional to the need to be accurate.

    You know what is funny though, Bob. Nobody was wearing a white shirt. But sure enough, one of the eye witnesses on a 911 tape said the guy wearing it was on top. Just like more than one said they heard two shots.

    You have simply shown why crime coverage in general, (whether on TV, newspapers or blogs,) and eyewitnesses to crimes are often very unreliable. And sometimes biased.

    That is why we have trials, Bob.

  7. Hostin says: "You cannot avail yourself of a self-defense claim when you are the first aggressor, you start a fight, even if you're losing it."

    FWIW, this is absolutely false. She would know that that was a false statement had she reviewed Florida's self-defense statutes, specifically §776.041(2):

    But then it's pretty clear she didn't review it. Some great legal analysis there.

    1. No, Hostin is right if slightly misleading.

      You cannot claim self defense if you provoked the fight.

      However, you can claim justifiable homicide - a different standard. That's the law you linked to: justifiable homicide.

      Self defense and justifiable homicide are two separate defenses.

    2. I'd be willing to concede you are correct in the sense that in the common law, self-defense and justifiable homicide are two separate concepts. But I've reviewed the Florida statutory scheme and, as far as I can tell, the chapter I am referring to entitled "Justifiable Use of Force" seems to set forth what would be substantively known as self-defense claims.

      In fact the jury instructions seem to support what I am saying. Look at the heading in the instructions "Justifiable Use of Deadly Force" which directly addresses the issue of "whether George Zimmerman acted in self-defense". This part lifts language directly from §776.012(1) from the same Chapter 776 I cited above:

      So I still think Hostin clearly wasn't aware of the applicable Florida law. If you know of applicable authority under Florida law that supports what you are claiming, I would be interested in seeing it.

      I'm completely open to the possibility I am wrong about this, but I don't think I am.

  8. I would like to appreciate your work and would like to tell to my friends.

    1. Something wrong with "my work"? Care to point out what it is?

    2. Why you following me? You gotta problem with me? You do now.

  9. You're reduced to critiquing the Nancy Grace show? How sad.

    1. When white women are threatening to sever the last thread of civilization somebody has to inteervene.

  10. Bob, you made an error in this post. Zimmerman never called 911 on Martin. He called a non-emergency number because he did not not think it was an emergency. This is an important point that Zimmerman persecutors always overlook in their smears of him.

    1. Yes anon@ 11:26. Zimmerman did not feel the suspicious behavior of "suspect" Martin merited calling the emergency number and get the squad cars rolling with their lights flashing and sirens blaring. He just felt it merited following himself with a loaded gun on his hip with a hollow point in the chamber, because, as he stated, even when you call the real cops, the assholes "always get away."

    2. Yep. And that wannabe gangsta punk Trayvon won't be coming back to steal jewels and laptops high on weed and Purple Drank. And remember, keep your garage doors shut and your kids out of the cul-de-sac. Cause George is on patrol.

    3. Don't forget the teen er "child" whose home invasions George helped put an end to. The youngster can't terrorize young mothers again for at least five years.

  11. I have a hunch Martin's "suspicious" behavior may have been nothing more than cautiously looking for a place out of plain view to take a toke. May offer motive and help explain Martin possibly going 'home' to hide his stash in the anticipation of trouble, then doubling back to confront Zimmerman?

    1. In the cell phone text messages, Martin talks about hiding his grass at home because he did not want to take it on the bus with him to FL.

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