NEW YORK, July 29 (UPI) -- Whoopi Goldberg, Nicolle Wallace and Rosie Perez fiercely defended The View alum Elisabeth Hasselbeck Wednesday from detractors who took issue with a question she asked during an interview on Fox News.
Hasselbeck, 38, was the lone conservative panelist on The View from 2003-13. She has served as a co-anchor of Fox & Friends since she left The View.
Hasselbeck was attacked online after she asked a former New York police officer whether Sandra Bland could have used a lit cigarette as a weapon. Some of her critics have categorized Hasselbeck's remarks as racist.
Bland is an African-American woman who allegedly hanged herself in her Texas jail cell this month. She was arrested for a routine traffic stop that escalated, allegedly after she refused to follow State Trooper Brian Encinia's instruction to extinguish her cigarette, then resisted arrest.
"Where would you say he went over the line? If at all?" Hasselbeck asked the police officer she was interviewing to speculate about the case, to which he is not personally connected.
After the ex-cop explained someone should only be removed from his or her vehicle if they pose a danger, Hasselbeck pressed: "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?"
"Absolutely," her interviewee agreed.
"If he, indeed, felt this could be a potential threat, was that the wise thing to do on his part?" Hasselbeck wanted to know.
Hasselbeck's friends at The View were adamant that Hasselbeck was doing her job as a responsible journalist and the interpretation of her queries as racist was ludicrous.
"People are up her butt because she asked that question. So, somehow, suddenly it's no longer OK to pose a question that will give you an answer in order to best understand what's going on," Goldberg said after referring to Hasselbeck as "our buddy."
"I guess people have this idea of who Elisabeth is. ... We've been friends for about seven, eight years and she has not asked me to pick any cotton," Goldberg said. "I'm saying that because -- and I say this all the time -- people love to throw that phrase around. 'You're a racist.' 'You are this.' 'You are that.' It is not racist to ask a question."
"It's her job. She's an anchor on a morning news program," chimed in Wallace, the show's sole Republican. "It's her job to ask the question."
"I didn't find it offensive at all," added Perez. "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?"
"If we stop asking questions, how will we ever know the truth? How will we know what happens?" Goldberg said. "Relax! You'll recognize the real racists, you'll know them when you see them and hear them. This woman sat here for 12 years and had disagreements. That does not make her a freaking racist."