‘The View’ Host Sunny Hostin on Family, Faith, Panicky Fans and That Subject She Can’t Discuss—Sex!
She’s been a federal prosecutor, a regular gabber on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, a coanchor of ABC’s World News Now and legal analyst for CNN. Now Sunny Hostin is taking a little time to enjoy The View.
Meredith Vieira admits that when she went from 60 Minutes to The View she worried about her reputation as a serious journalist. Do you relate?
I had the same concerns coming from CNN! I still do, because I’m also the senior legal correspondent for ABC News, and there’s a line you have to walk these days between being a reporter and letting your opinions and emotions be known. Viewers really want to know who you are, and that requires a bit of letting go. They know when you’re not authentic.
There was no “letting go” in Walter Cronkite’s day, and he managed just fine.
Social media has changed all that. So has the way we report on events. Robin Roberts is a fantastic journalist who got emotional when she was covering Hurricane Katrina. I’ve been in the field with Anderson Cooper and seen him let his feelings show. They’ve given me permission to be who I am—emotional when it’s OK, strong when I need to be strong. Before coming to The View, I spoke with Charlie Moore, the executive producer at Anderson Cooper 360, and said, “Charlie, I am soo nervous about this! Maybe I should just go back to being an attorney where I can really make a difference.” He said, “Are you kidding me? Do you understand the difference you can make on The View? Don’t you know the import of that show? It’s an institution! Any message you have will get out to millions of people every day!” And he was right. It’s important that we have five women talking about the big issues, and doing it in a way that’s informative, gracious and respectful. There’s nothing like it. And people are actually getting their news from us.
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The show has become weirdly comforting. When we viewers are flipping out over all the crazy-ass things going wrong in the world, it’s kind of nice to know that you cohosts are flipping out, too.
It’s so true. A while back we all went on vacation so we pre-taped an entire week of shows, which meant we weren’t able to do hot topics. People were freaking out! They were emailing and tweeting me, “What’s wrong with you guys? The world is falling apart and you’re not talking about it?” I got one tweet saying, “If the Trump administration has leaned on ABC and is forcing you to stop talking politics, we’re boycotting!” People actually need to hear from us, an experience I’ve never had before. That’s a real privilege and I do not take it lightly. We’ve become appointment TV. I thought those days were over!
You’re also a contributor to Nightline and Good Morning America, plus a mother of two. How are you managing all this?
I only sleep four or five hours a night! My friend Dr. Sanjay Gupta told me I’m going to live a shorter life because of it. I go on all cylinders at all times. But you’re not promised tomorrow.
What about your husband and kids? How often do they see you?
Despite all I do, I always put my family first. I get up with the kids every morning and get them on the school bus before I head off to The View. I make sure I’m there for all the tracks meets, the gymnastics, the ballet recitals. I always put that stuff on my schedule and the people I work for know that’s non-negotiable. If my kids need me, I’m there. And, if I’m not traveling, we eat dinner as a family, and that’s when you really find out what’s going on with your kids. I will always ask them, “What is the highlight and lowlight of your day?” You’d be surprised how that simple question gets you ridiculous information—sometimes information you really don’t want to hear! It fosters great honesty. Of course, they say it takes a village and I have one. My mother lives with me. Some people would not like that but I am very fortunate to have her around. [Laughs] Except for the fact that she always sides with my husband! And every year we have an exchange student living with us. That’s been wonderful.
How different is your fame factor now that you’re on The View?
No comparison! I was certainly known when I was on Fox, and I was at CNN for six years, so people recognized me here and there. But now I’m recognized all the time—on the street, in the grocery store, at the movies. It’s kind of shocking, actually. Some people think The View is a show for women, but a lot of guys are watching. I did a shoot in Dallas for Nightline and was so exhausted I fell asleep on the plane and, when we landed, the flight attendant had to wake me up. An older gentleman seated across from me said, “Is now a good time to tell you I’m a big fan of The View?” I’m like, “Oh, puh-leeze tell me you weren’t watching me sleep for hours with my mouth hanging open!” And he said, “Oh, absolutely I did!”
Opinion-wise, you are often the odd one out at the View table, yet you stick to your guns. Is that ever tough?
Not really. I used to think my stubbornness was a character flaw. Not anymore. I do my homework, know the law and am guided by my moral compass and my faith. All that is unshakable. But hey, I do listen! The other cohosts don’t convince me to change my mind all that often, but I’ve certainly had my epiphanies on air. I am open to considering anything.
Well, except last month, when the conversation turned to faking orgasms and you looked like you wanted the Earth to open up and swallow you whole.
It’s true! I’m a repressed Catholic, and sex is the one topic that makes me very uncomfortable. I know we have to talk about it on the show, but c’mon! [Laughs] I kind of admire [cohost] Jedediah Bila’s ability to admit she’s tried bondage, but that kind of openness is too much for me. I can’t hide it. I am the cast prude!
The View, Weekdays, ABC