The story surrounding the alleged homophobic and racist hate crime attack against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has shifted dramatically in recent days from where it first began three weeks ago.
If you only got your news from MSNBC’s primetime lineup, however, you probably had no idea what even happened in the first place.
On Jan. 29, Smollett claimed to have been the victim of a hate crime perpetrated by two presumable supporters of President Donald Trump shouting “This is MAGA country” as they placed a noose around his neck.
Many elected Democrats and denizens of the liberal media, especially at MSNBC, dove headfirst into the story and pushed the allegations far and wide as confirmed fact.
However, the resultant investigation by the Chicago Police Department determined that the entire ordeal was an elaborate hoax dreamed up by Smollett himself, and he was charged with a felony on Wednesday for filing a false report, followed by an arrest and arraignment hearing on Thursday morning.
Fox News reported Friday that the entire lineup of MSNBC’s primetime hosts completely avoided mentioning that news — or even mentioning Smollett at all — on Wednesday and Thursday evening, despite both CNN and Fox News providing ample coverage of the shocking developments for their viewers, albeit from different perspectives.
Driving that point home quite savagely was a graphic found at the top of the Fox News website homepage, which sharply criticized the rival network by using the MSNBC letters and logo to spell out “Mr. Smollett Not Being Covered.”
That point is rather valid, however, as MSNBC’s four primetime hosts — Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and Brian Williams — all avoided even mentioning Smollett’s name once on Wednesday and Thursday, much less share the stunning details of the 180 degree turn his story had made.
Their silence was particularly odd in light of the fact that they had all been regularly covering the story over the past three weeks, in addition to the fact that daytime anchors and pundits on the network had discussed the latest developments.
Indeed, one daytime guest reportedly even sought to defend Smollett by suggesting the Chicago police were Trump supporters themselves who were simply lying about Smollett in an effort to frame the outspoken critic of the president.
Instead of covering the breaking Smollett news, however, the primetime hosts spent time talking about other issues like fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe’s recent commentary, Roger Stone’s pending legal trouble, the ongoing Robert Mueller special counsel probe and other stories that portrayed President Trump in a negative light.
“To downplay or ignore the Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax charges is a politically biased journalistic choice,” Cornell Law School professor and media critic William Jacobson told Fox News. “The Smollett case represents the collapse of a cherished MSNBC false narrative, that Trump supporters supposedly are racist, homophobic and violent.”
Jacobson’s take was echoed by DePauw University professor and media analyst Jeffrey McCall, who told Fox News that while “the Smollett matter is not widely significant compared to international affairs, the economy and political failures in Congress” in the big scheme of things, it nevertheless warranted coverage from MSNBC.
“The media latched on to the Smollett situation and told the nation that this story was huge because of the broader socio-cultural issues involved,” McCall said.
“Given that the Smollett matter has been so much in the news over the last several weeks, it seems curious that MSNBC would fail to provide suitable coverage in primetime when the Chicago police provide the latest development,” McCall added. “And it’s not like there was a ton of other breaking and high-impact stories happening yesterday that would have squeezed Smollett developments off the agenda.”
Amber Athey, editor and reporter for The Daily Caller, noted that even though MSNBC’s Twitter account was covering the breaking news on Wednesday and Thursday, that didn’t let the network’s primetime hosts off the hook for not covering the story as well.
“Fox News and CNN also repeatedly led with Smollett’s charges and arrest during their primetime shows because they recognize that this is a story that captured the nation,” Athey said. “MSNBC is free to choose what they want to cover, but their decision to completely ignore one of the biggest stories in the country involving the intersection of race and politics suggests they’re operating with a severe bias.”
The refusal of MSNBC’s primetime hosts to cover a story that didn’t turn out the way they likely wanted only serves to underscore the deep-seated biases they maintain, and Fox News deserves kudos for calling out the blatant and glaring oversight of that network’s hosts with the hilarious graphic posted at the top of their website homepage.