Whoops: CNN’s Sanders Changes Mind, Actually Thinks Chicago Beating Was a Hate Crime

Following massive media attention (including here at NewsBusters) and widespread outrage, CNN political commentator Symone Sanders backtracked on Thursday night on whether transpired with the torturing of a white Chicago man this week constituted hate crime charges as she now accepts this view following the official filing of charges. 

When pressed by AC360 host Anderson Cooper, Sanders reversed course on the disturbing crime less than 24 hours after she told CNN Tonight host Don Lemon that the beating of a disabled white man at the hands of four African-Americans didn’t appear to be a hate crime.

“Symone, I know when you first saw this yesterday on camera, I think you said it was certainly sickening. You weren’t sure if it constituted hate crime. Do you still think that now that prosecutors — the police are actually charging that,” Cooper wondered to Sanders just after 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Sanders shot back that she now has come to believe that “the prosecutors have done the right thing” in identifying “all the reasonable cause they needed.” However, she also wanted to make a rather humorous point about those not in the legal community (so, activists, journalists, etc.) making pronouncements about crimes.

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“I think it is dangerous for folks that aren't legal experts like myself, in fact, to have this really in depth conversation about the legality of something because I think it waters it — waters it down and kinda takes away from the disgusting, the sickening acts that happened,” she complained.

Like a good TV anchor and interviewer, Cooper pushed back on the squishiness of Sanders’s bait-and-switch and wondered if her outrage would be the same if a few characteristics were changed: “What’s the hesitancy, though, to use the term hate crime. I mean, if this was for, you know, skin heads doing this to an African-American teenager who had a disability, wouldn't it be fair to call it a hate crime?”

Cooper had to re-ask the question, but Sanders eventually replied that she “definitely” and “absolutely” believes what happened on Facebook Live was “a hate crime, but yesterday on air when it all broke, we didn't have all the details.”

The liberal pundit and former Sanders support explained that she’s now “seen all the details,” but then moved off this topic to hop on the soapbox with this elongated argument about why such crimes are happening in this divided country:

Regardless, if I think it is a hate crime or not. I think we're having the wrong conversation if you will. I think the conversation needs to be about what was that young man feeling that was being assaulted? How did we get here as a community where these kids think it’s okay to go out and do this? Why are we so polarized? And I think that's a separate conversation from is this wrong? Absolutely it is wrong and I think a lot of times in the heat of the moment, when things first happen and we’ve got our initial reactions. But I really think, taking a step back, you know, it's more so about yes, this is wrong, this is disgusting. These young people should be prosecuted. Justice should be served, but we need to have some additional conversations, I think, about our society.       

(h/t: Mediaite)

Here’s the relevant portion of the transcript from CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 on January 5:

CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360
January 5, 2017
9:06 p.m. Eastern

ANDERSON COOPER: Symone, I know when you first saw this yesterday on camera, I think you said it was certainly sickening. You weren’t sure if it constituted hate crime. Do you still think that now that prosecutors — the police are actually charging that? 

SYMONE SANDERS: Well, I think we need to — I think the prosecutors have done the right thing. They found — they found all the reasonable cause they needed to find. I think it is dangerous for folks that aren't legal experts like myself, in fact, to have this really in depth conversation about the legality of something because I think it waters it — waters it down and kinda takes away from the disgusting, the sickening acts that happened and I think that's what some of what transpired on the air last night. People were angry on social media saying well, how could you not say this is wrong? So perhaps I — we should, I should be looking at it more so from the —

COOPER: What’s the hesitancy, though, to use the term hate crime. I mean, if this was for, you know, skin heads doing this to an African-American teenager who had a disability, wouldn't it be fair to call it a hate crime? 

SANDERS: I think yesterday, when it’s — today it is absolutely a hate crime, but yesterday on air when it all broke, we didn't have all the details. You know, we were speculating. 

COOPER: But now you see it as a hate crime?

SANDERS: I definitely — I definitely do. I have — I have seen — I have seen all the details. Regardless, if I think it is a hate crime or not. I think we're having the wrong conversation if you will. I think the conversation needs to be about what was that young man feeling that was being assaulted? How did we get here as a community where these kids think it’s okay to go out and do this? Why are we so polarized? And I think that's a separate conversation from is this wrong? Absolutely it is wrong and I think a lot of times in the heat of the moment, when things first happen and we’ve got our initial reactions. But I really think, taking a step back, you know, it's more so about yes, this is wrong, this is disgusting. These young people should be prosecuted. Justice should be served, but we need to have some additional conversations, I think, about our society. 

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