How the Media Failed Again on the Jussie Smollett Hoax
Empire actor Jussie Smollett's weeks-long reign as (liberal) America's intersectional sweetheart came to an inglorious end this weekend when it was revealed in multiple reports that he paid his two Nigerian pals to stage a fake hate crime against him last month in Chicago.
Many (perhaps most) Americans from the beginning suspected that Smollett tried to manufacture a hate crime to make Trump supporters look bad. But not the mainstream media. They fell for it hook, line, and sinker.
You would think that after falling for "tribal elder" Nathan Phillips' dubious claims last month -- to the point of being legally culpable -- the media would be a bit more circumspect.
But no. When presented with another enticing opportunity to demonize Trump supporters, they jumped like Pavlov's dogs at the chance.
TMZ broke the original version of the story late last month in a report alleging that Smollett was the victim of a vicious hate crime:
Upon leaving a Chicago Subway sandwich shop circa 2 AM one sub-zero night in late January, two masked men recognized him as the openly gay black actor starring in Fox’s ‘Empire,’ hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, beat him to the point of breaking his ribs, doused him with bleach, tied a noose around his neck, before pronouncing “This is MAGA Country!” and fleeing.
Detectives now have a receipt for the rope found on Smollett's neck showing that his Nigerian friends bought it.
There were inconsistencies in Smollett's story from the beginning, not to mention a continuous flow of leaks from Chicago cops indicating that they were investigating a potential hoax.
Why didn't Smollett mention that the attackers yelled, "This is MAGA country!" during his first interview? How did he know the race of his attackers if they were completely covered and wearing face masks? Why was he still holding his Subway sandwich when he got back to the apartment? Why did he wait more than 40 minutes before calling the police? Why did he still have the noose around his neck when the police came? Why did he ask them to turn off their body cameras? Where did TMZ get the idea that he had broken ribs? (He didn't.) Is it really plausible that these racist, anti-gay Trumpies would be out hunting for Smollett at 2 a.m. on one of the coldest nights of the year?
Local reporters did an excellent job of looking for answers to those questions and bringing out the facts before they were officially confirmed by the Chicago Police Department.
But amid all of the questions and inconsistencies, most of the national media *still* uncritically reported Smollett's tale of being "brutally assaulted" by racist, homophobic Trump supporters -- right up to the bitter end.
As Grabien notes, "The national media owed it to their viewers to give this story the circumspect coverage responsible journalism demands."
But instead, we saw journalists in many cases report Smollett's highly dubious claims as facts -- not allegations. And as his story was rapidly falling apart, Smollett was granted a softball interview on Good Morning America, where he was treated with kid gloves.
Some in the media drew deeper meaning from the incident to indict Trump's racist America in 2019.
And some even attacked those who raised doubts -- like Mercury News' Martha Ross, who accused Donald Trump Jr. of "promoting a conspiracy theory" because he "seemed to believe" Smollett's hate crime story was a hoax.
Trump Jr. liked and retweeted posts by people who have suggested that the reported attack early Tuesday in Chicago could be a left-wing hoax, perpetrated by a Hollywood celebrity who has been outspoken in his opposition to Trump’s presidency, according to Splinter News and a review of Trump Jr.’s Twitter feed.
Among those promoting this view are conservative commentator Candace Owens, whose post Friday was liked by Trump Jr.
Well, guess what? Trump Jr. and Candace Owens were right. It was "a left-wing hoax perpetrated by a Hollywood celebrity who had been outspoken in his opposition to Trump’s presidency."
All it took was a working BS detector and some common sense to have doubts about the Smollett's implausible story -- but those are in short supply these days in the MSM, apparently.
"This is America in 2019," CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin lamented in response to the Smollett's hate crime story.
She's actually right about that. But not in the way she thinks.