The Jussie Smollett case is already deeply strange, but it could reach a new level of bizarre in the the next few days.
Smollett, if you’re not aware, is the openly gay actor and singer who is now at the center of a “hate crime” controversy. On Jan. 29, the television star claimed that he had been assaulted by racists who hurled homophobic and racial slurs while trying to lynch him.
The African-American actor went on to insist that it was Trump supporters ranting about “MAGA country” who had attacked him. Quick to use the alleged incident for political points, liberal politicians ranging from Nancy Pelosi to Cory Booker and Kamala Harris all accepted his version of events and used Twitter to promote the narrative that the “lynching” was a consequence of President Donald Trump’s presence in the White House.
Meanwhile, many establishment media outlets ran with that angle as well, basically lecturing the country about how racist and terrible the right was. This headline for GQ, for instance, is an example of one that isn’t aging well.
Then the questions started flying.
Keen observers — or, say, anyone with even a hint of skepticism — pointed out that major parts of the story didn’t add up. On the night that Smollett claimed he was followed and attacked while out and about in Chicago, the weather was so terrible that nearly nobody was outside.
There was also the pesky fact that contrary to a key detail of his story, Chicago is the polar opposite of “MAGA country.”
The idea that Trump-hat-wearing, noose-carrying racists were wandering around a predominantly black, liberal city in the dead of winter looking for trouble struck many as implausible — and the story became even more unlikely after police couldn’t confirm it even after poring over camera footage and other evidence.
Over the weekend, Smollett’s version of the story fell apart. Police confirmed that their investigation had “shifted,” and numerous news sources reported that two Africans from the country of Nigeria had been paid by Smollett himself to stage the attack.
“Smollett paid the two men $3,500 to stage the attack in Streeterville. The brothers, seen on surveillance video near the scene of the alleged attack, told investigators Smollett directed them to buy the rope used in the incident,” reported WBBM-TV CBS in Chicago.
“One of the brothers appeared on (the TV show) ‘Empire’ with Smollett as an extra, and the other was Smollett’s personal trainer,” that outlet continued. “All three men rehearsed their plan just days before everything played out.”
Details about the jaw-dropping events are still emerging, but there’s no dodging the fact that it has been a disastrous few days for the liberal actor’s credibility and reputation.
In a move that certainly looks like desperation, Smollett has now parted ways with his previous attorney and then retained a crisis management team to contain the public relations disaster.
“Late tonight, high powered Chicago defense attorney Michael Monico confirmed to ET that he is now representing Jussie Smollett,” “Entertainment Tonight” producer Brendon Geoffrion wrote on Friday. “Monico most recently represented President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen.”
But that high-powered attorney didn’t last very long. Just two days later, reporter Rafer Weigel from WFLD Fox in Chicago stated that Monico was out.
Monico is no longer representing #JussieSmollett. Per @RoeConn “A source with direct knowledge says there was a disagreement about the decision to release yesterday’s statement. He is now represented by Chicago attorneys Victor Henderson and Todd Pugh”
— Rafer Weigel (@RaferWeigel) February 17, 2019
It looks very likely that the scandal-stricken actor has shifted to pure damage control.
“Smollett’s management team has retained Anne Kavanagh. Her local firm offers crisis management along with several other services,” Charlie De Mar of WBBM-TV CBS reported
Smollett’s management team has retained Anne Kavanagh.
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) February 17, 2019
None of this looks good for the actor or the liberal voices who were all too eager to hitch their reputations to his story before any of the facts came out.
“Hiring a spin doctor isn’t going to help Jussie Smollett regain respect, respectability, sympathy or a job,” pointed out one Twitter user in response to the news about the crisis management firm.
“Hiring a ‘crisis management’ team isn’t going to change facts,” replied another. “Time for Jussie Smollett to do the right thing.”
They’re right. While we must stress that the investigation is still underway and the final verdict is not yet in, it appears all but certain that Smollett has not been completely honest about what actually happened.
Whether this was a blatant hoax or a more complicated situation that spiraled out of control, it’s time for the truth to come out.