Views Are Shifting on Jussie Smollett Case

Police hope to re-interview the 'Empire' actor
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2019 1:53 PM CST
Updated Feb 18, 2019 3:18 PM CST
Cops Trying to Schedule Jussie Smollett Interview
A 2016 photo of actor Jussie Smollett.   (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

The ever-twisting Jussie Smollett case is reportedly headed to a grand jury amid allegations that the actor orchestrated a fake attack on himself with the assistance of two Nigerian brothers. Smollett insists it wasn't a hoax, but don't expect quick resolution. Chicago police want to re-interview the Empire actor, but his attorney says that won't happen Monday, reports ABC Chicago. Attorney Todd Pugh did not say when any such interview might happen, but he said Smollett's lawyers "will keep an active dialogue going with Chicago police on his behalf." Meanwhile, the case remains a hot topic:

  • Chicagoan's doubts: Nana Efua Mumford, executive assistant to the editorial board at the Washington Post, is a Chicago native who writes that her hometown has a "deep, dark racist history." She wants to believe Smollett, but she's had doubts from the start. For starters, the assailants are walking around Chicago in 10-degree weather at 2am with bleach just hoping to find a victim? If it does turn out to be a hoax, this "will cause irreparable damage to the communities most affected," she writes. "It would be the very embodiment of 'fake news.'"
  • Need a recap? Vox has an explainer on the whole story from day one, including Smollett's ties to the Nigerian brothers, one of whom was once his personal trainer.
  • Robin Roberts: The Good Morning America host on Monday defended her interview with Smollett last week, in which he criticized his doubters. “When I sat down with Jussie it was Tuesday night in Chicago, at the time to give his first account, publicly give his first account of what he said happened,” Roberts said, per Fox News. “At that time, on Tuesday, police officers were saying that his account was consistent, it was credible, and that he was being cooperative." News about the alleged hoax surfaced later.

  • No regrets: Author Roxane Gay is among those who believed Smollett but no longer does, and she hopes he "comes to realize the damage he has done and atones for it somehow," she tweets. Still, "I have not one (regret) about believing him," she adds. "I’m not going to stop believing people who say they have suffered because more often than not they are telling the truth."
  • Who's sorry? At the New York Post, Kyle Smith excoriates the left, from celebs such as Ariana Grande to politicians such as Cory Booker, for jumping on the story so quickly and pointing to it as an example of a MAGA-fueled hate crime. (Smollett is black and gay.) But "don't hold your breath waiting for mea culpas," he writes.
  • On the other hand: "The giddiness among Trumpsters over the Smollett news is gross," writes SE Cupp of CNN. "This story is awful. He allegedly abused police resources, exploited raw divisions in this country, and made it harder for every victim of a hate crime to report. This is sad no matter your politics."
  • Pelosi deletes: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has deleted a tweet in which she decried the "racist, homophobic attack," reports People. "Following the conclusion of the ongoing investigation, we will comment further," said a spokesperson.
  • Media's role: The headline on a piece at Mediaite asks whether the media jumped the gun on this story. While defenders say respectable outlets exercised the proper caution, Caleb Howe rounds up tweets from many journalists who quickly embraced the initial narrative.
(More Jussie Smollett stories.)

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