As the narrative of a ‘racist, homophobic attack’ on actor Jussie Smollett in Chicago continues to collapse, politicians and celebrities who fueled the outrage over the incident are quietly backing away and hoping no one notices.
Smollett’s story fit perfectly into the mass hysteria fueled by Trump Derangement Syndrome: two men wearing MAGA hats tried to lynch a black, gay actor who is an outspoken critic of the sitting president. If something sounds too good to be true, however, chances are it is. According to Chicago police, the whole incident was staged and Smollett’s ‘attackers’ were two Nigerian brothers who worked as extras with him on the show ‘Empire.’
The ‘racist lynching’ of Jussie Smollett now seems to be just one more in a long list of hate hoaxes perpetrated by people eager to cast themselves as virtuous victims of President Donald Trump, each hyped by the media and then quickly – and quietly – abandoned once the truth came out.
What makes the Smollett incident different, however, is that it was quickly and vocally embraced by a laundry list of liberal celebrities and Democrats:
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California), for example, tweeted on January 29 that “The racist, homophobic attack on Jussie Smollett is an affront to our humanity.” She has since deleted that tweet, but it’s not easy to scrub something off the internet.
Smollett was also backed by Democrat presidential hopefuls Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Kamala Harris (D-California), chair of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (D-California) and the rising party star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), to name just a few.
America can rest easy knowing that a guy who was too stupid to sniff out the most obvious hoax ever runs the House Intelligence Committee. https://t.co/k9dkG2QZty
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) February 17, 2019
While some of these politicians have quietly deleted their tweets in hopes the embarrassment will go away, others have chosen to leave them up but ignore follow-up questions, or say they were waiting for more details before offering an opinion.
This has obviously not escaped the attention of their critics, including the president’s son, Donald Trump Junior.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 18, 2019
Meanwhile, the same media outlets that breathlessly reported on the original claim and quoted the celebrity and political outrage are now trying to bury the narrative collapse with euphemisms and spin it as “conservatives pounce.” Here is the Associated Press on Monday, for example:
the outrage has now been replaced by surprise, doubt and bafflement as the singers, actors and politicians who came out in support of the “Empire” star struggle to digest the strange twists the case has taken. Some conservative pundits, meanwhile, have gleefully seized on the moment.
The “pouncing” primarily consisted of journalists from conservative outlets pointing out that the mainstream media was willing to uncritically repeat the original claim and amplify the outrage without actually doing its job of investigative reporting.
Notice that no one in media is busy apologizing for Smollett, and still haven’t apologized for Covington
They’re just moving on to the next hoax
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) February 18, 2019
The Covington Kids and Jussie Smollett stories are the same. The media chose to believe the narrative that was most damaging to Trump supporters, even in the absence of facts or logic. This is why there is animus towards the media and why #fakenews resonates.
— Lisa Boothe (@LisaMarieBoothe) February 17, 2019
When we see the same reporters instantaneously believe the smear of Covington Catholic, and then instantaneously believe Jussie Smollett’s far-fetched story, and then the media establishment decide the story is conservatives pouncing, it can breed distrust in the media.
— Tim Carney (@TPCarney) February 17, 2019
As one astute Twitter user pointed out, the only thing in question was whether these media outlets would lead with “conservatives pounce” or try to rationalize the hoax by claiming it “started a very important conversation.”
In no time flat, the Washington Post was running with the take, “I wish this had been true because the lie would be so much worse.”
So glad to have been able to publish this piece from Nana Efua Mumford on the Jussie Smollett case, and what it feels like to wish a very bad thing might be true because the lie would be so much worse: https://t.co/v9ObKrZ8Cr
— Alyssa Rosenberg (@AlyssaRosenberg) February 17, 2019
Making a false police report is considered disorderly conduct in Illinois, a Class 4 felony, and carries a sentence of up to three years in prison. In practice, it is extremely unlikely either Smollett or those promoting his hoax will ever answer for it.
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