Empire actor and singer Jussie Smollett's overall claim that he was attacked by men using Trump's MAGA slogan and racial, homophobic slurs was not unbelievable, and he had many people genuinely concerned about his well-being and about the state of our country.
We should still be concerned about the state of our country, as most hate crimes are, unfortunately, all too real.
But aspects of Smollett's story always bothered many observers. Shockingly, when I first dutifully reported on it, I had otherwise intelligent friends whining about even using the words allegedly and possible, as if they were prejudicial, not merely journalistic and legally sound. Turns out that Smollett ALLEGEDLY used that presumption that he was telling the truth — because why wouldn't he be, right? — to further his own profile, and, according to CPD, to try to get paid.
In a wide-ranging and emotionally charged press conference Thursday, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson laid out what cops believe Smollett was thinking, and what he allegedly did — he is alleged to have hired his acquaintances to stage the attack, paid them with a $3,500 check (with $500 more promised — cheapskate), and then stayed in contact with them before and after the deed, all the while presumably thinking the cops would never be able to trace them. His alleged motive: To make more money on Empire.
The police have also confirmed that they suspect the initial letter was also sent by/at the instruction of Smollett.
Smollett turned himself in on a felony charge of disorderly conduct for filing a false complaint at 5 a.m. Chicago time Thursday.
If I were him, I would expect federal charges to come.
His best bet now is to tearfully, publicly beg for forgiveness and plead mental health issues, but as recently as yesterday his high-powered defense team was promising an aggressive (oh, great, and even more divisive!) defense. Even then, I don't see why anyone would pay to watch him or listen to him again. I wouldn't.