It’s starting to look more and more like the alleged assault on actor Jussie Smollett was a total hoax. The case has taken numerous twists and turns. Supposedly, two white men attacked the actor, poured bleach on him, put a rope around his neck, and hurled racist and homophobic slurs. Well, it turns out that it was two Nigerian brothers. They were considered persons of interest, then suspects, then arrested as such, and later released without charge. One of them was an extra on Empire on Fox, which stars Smollett. Then, they said they rehearsed the alleged assault, were reportedly paid by Smollett, who even bought the rope for the attack. Of course, in the era of Trump, the liberal media pounced. And guess what they were totally wrong. The worst part is that they tried to divert blame, saying celebrities and the entertainment media were the ones peddling the assault story as a fact.
CNN's Camerota on Smollett: "I was frankly surprised how many people jumped on board to side with Jussie Smollett."@brianstelter: "There was a rush to judgment, I think it was mostly in the celebrity press and among activists and among Twitter people." pic.twitter.com/IJ8oFIm9cT— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 18, 2019
Montage: Sens. Booker, Harris Before and After Smollett Story Exposed as Hoax https://t.co/G7ysVUws17— John Fund (@johnfund) February 18, 2019
NEW: A law enforcement official briefed on Smollett investigation tells @ABC during interrogations, police were told by the two brothers Smollett was upset a threatening letter sent to Empire’s Chicago studio on January 22 did not get enough attention. 1/2— Rob Elgas (@RobElgasABC7) February 18, 2019
I praised @brianstelter’s segment yesterday about Jussie Smollett. But today, he, @SopanDeb and others have bizarrely attempted to fully absolve the media of any blame for how the Smollett story entered the public consciousness. That introspection-free angle is wrong. 1/— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) February 18, 2019
The headlines and chyrons of CNN, NBC News and CBS News from day 1 all clearly take, as fact, that an attack happened . The question raised was only if it was a hate crime. 2/ pic.twitter.com/qkOWBL57jb— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) February 18, 2019
One of the main issues with this @CNN tweet and others like it was a mischaracterization of what police were saying. This assumes police said the attack happened in the way that Smollett says, when the police ALWAYS said simply they were relaying what they were told. 3/ pic.twitter.com/wZBUMqQSml— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) February 18, 2019
Another issue with the media coverage of Smollett was the immediate secondary story. Here, demonstrated by @CNN and @BuzzFeed, any element of skepticism was dismissed by these tweets about celebrity response to the “brutal attack” (no “alleged” in there). 4/ pic.twitter.com/SrmkkyCGZE— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) February 18, 201
Another media error was in the instant analysis. Here, @washingtonpost tweets that Smollett “was assaulted.” But also, follows up with an opinion piece (but tweeted from their main account): “The Jussie Smollett attack highlights the hate black gay Americans face”. 5/ pic.twitter.com/xx4RgmMfeb— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) February 18, 2019
Another example: @thedailybeast tweets a column that instantly analyzes the situation, quoting the column with “what happened to Smollett was a form of white terrorism.” They had no problem in their 2nd day story calling it “an assault,” without any “alleged” present. 6/ pic.twitter.com/s10oU30I1p— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) February 18, 2019
And of course, little editorializing that is now the norm within many journalistic outlets looks awful in retrospect. Here, @BrookeBCNN closes an objective segment by noting “This is America in 2019.” 7/ https://t.co/f4OpYR3l9Q— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) February 18, 2019
Perhaps no tweet exemplifies media re: Smollett more than this from @Yamiche of PBS. She attributes the report to TMZ, but adds “We have to do better as a country. This is disgusting.”— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) February 18, 2019
The media must take this misstep seriously and not dismiss it. Be humble, and get better. 8/ pic.twitter.com/oBasCwptfS
[some screenshots that didn’t fit my thread… @ABC calling it a “brutal attack” (no alleged), and @nytimes saying “assailants who yelled racist and homophobic slurs" (period). This media screw-up was ubiquitous.] pic.twitter.com/h7cBoRjVqM— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) February 18, 2019
And as Caleb Howe at Mediaite noted, it simply isn’t true that the celebrity media was the only cohort spreading this story, it was members of the media who contribute to The Huffington Post, LA Times, Glamour, Slate, Cosmopolitan, BuzzFeed, Reuters, Philadelphia Magazine, Newsweek, Daily Beast, and The New York Post:
On CNN’s Reliable Sources, Vox’s Liz Plank emphatically made this point, saying she couldn’t find “a real reputable media outlet reporting” that the attack was motivated by MAGA or included a statement about “MAGA country. “I couldn’t find one,” she said. “We can’t confuse celebrity tweets with the media and the press.”
This is a fine idea, and there should be some distinction when referring to the media at large, but in this case the facts simply don’t bear out the premise that the press was not involved in an early pile-on. In fact, dozens of reporters Tweeted these very things, on the day the story broke.
Howe lists the examples from the outlets cited above. The media owns this mess, and this isn’t the first time too. There have been multiple hate crime hoaxes post-2016. And every time, the media seems to fall for it in their pathetic crusade against the Trump White House.
As a result of these developments, Chicago Police want Smollett to come in for another interview. The problem is that the actor hasn’t made the time. I wonder why.