The bizarre case of Jussie Smollett continues to unfold with the police still investigating what Smollett insists was a “hate crime.”
Smollett tells the story of walking down the street in sub-zero temperatures and being attacked by two men wearing MAGA hats and screaming racial and homophobic slurs at him. Was this a hate crime?
Maybe it was. And then, maybe he wasn’t attacked at all.
The incident occurred in Chicago, a city torn by racial strife and massive distrust of the police. John Ziegler of Mediaite writes of how the investigation is unfolding:
Among other things, the police have made it very clear they have not yet found any proof of an attack, despite having almost all of Smollett’s movements on surveillance video. They have disclosed that Smollett would not give over his cell phone to verify his timeline of events. They even published photos of “persons of interest” that they had to know were going to be universally mocked for being obviously irrelevant.
In my view, none of those important revelations would have been made public in the way that they were, unless there was extreme suspicion within the police force that Smollett’s story was not fully accurate.
By extension, media figures would not be being told by their police sources, as I have been told is currently happening both routinely and with vigor, that the authorities are acting on the assumption that they will never find any evidence to fully substantiate Smollett’s story. This isn’t just happening via idle speculation either, the police are doing so with great specificity, even including an alternative theory for what really happened (current attempts to find the origin of the rope found around Smollett’s neck long after the event was over are believed to be the most likely game-changer, if there ever is one in this case).
In truth, the Chicago police are terrified of even hinting they doubt Smollett’s story. There is no major city in the U.S. where the cops are more distrusted by blacks than in Chicago. The police risk a riot if they let it be known they think Smollett is trying to hoax them.
The media — also massively distrusted by blacks in the city for supposedly always placing them in a bad light — is tiptoeing around the hoax story.
As for the Chicago media, a couple of local television reporters are apparently using Twitter as a confessional for information about the case that their stations currently fear to air. Rob Elgas of the Chicago ABC affiliate, and Rafer Weigel of the Fox station (which carries Smollett’s show Empire) have continually updated the developments, or lack thereof, in a way that paints a much different picture from the one that viewers would see on an actual newscast.
It is very obvious that if one major news outlet in Chicago had the guts to be the first to openly discredit Smollett’s story, the others would soon follow the leader. But because the risk of being wrong in this situation (see Smollett’s PC Force Field), there is just no incentive to take that dive until and unless the police finally make a definitive statement.
Will the police let the matter die rather than prosecute Smollett? Fox’s Weigel says no:
— Rafer Weigel (@RaferWeigel) February 5, 2019
Since so many have asked me if @Chicago_Police will let #JussieSmollett case go unsolved, I’ll give my opinion. Given the high-profile nature of the crime, I don’t believe so. I believe they’ll either find the perpetrators responsible or charge #Smollett w/ filing a false report
— Rafer Weigel (@RaferWeigel) February 8, 2019
I will believe that when I see it.
The cops have subpoenaed Smollett’s phone records. It will be awkward for him if he fights the action. But it won’t matter now. If the police drop the matter without finding the perpetrators, the outcry in the black community will be just as loud. And if they charge Smollett, violence will be likely.
Maybe the cell phone records will buttress the actor’s case. But there are upwards of 30,000 surveillance cameras in the city and not one of them has apparently caught Smollett’s attackers.