On Friday I took Jamie to see "Network" on Broadway. We loved it. One of the monologues by Bryan Cranston's character Howard Beale rang in my ears all weekend
"Here is the truth: the real truth, the thing we must be most afraid of," he said, "is the destructive power of absolute beliefs – that we can know anything conclusively, absolutely – whether we are compelled to it by anger, fear, justice, injustice, indignation. As soon as you have ossified that belief, as soon as you start believing in the absolute, you stop believing in human beings, as mad and tragic as they are … in all their complexity, their otherness, their intractable reality … The only commitment any one of us can have is to other people … "
. .. And this brings us to the Jussie Smollett case.
Many people figured Smollett was telling the truth when he said he was assaulted in the middle of the night by two strangers. Did the allegation immediately become a political weapon when TMZ reported that Smollett said the attackers called Chicago "MAGA country?" Yes. Was there a rush to judgment in some quarters? Yes. Did some liberal celebs and Democratic politicians issue statements that were not supported by the facts? Yes. Did some Trump fans feel insulted by the news coverage of the case? Yes
But at the same time: Was it newsworthy when the Chicago police opened an investigation into Smollett's accusation? Yes. Did high-quality news organizations approach the case with caution? Yes. Did local and national news organizations poke into his "hate crime" account? Yes.
Smollett's camp still says he's a victim
What Chicago PD is saying
Chicago police detectives have been wanting to follow with Smollett since Friday night. "We need to speak to him now," and a police spokesman told me on Saturday, that corroborate the information from the two men who were people of interest
Per spokesman Anthony Guglielmi's most recent Nothing
9659002] In the immediate aftermath of the alleged attack, Fox – who makes and airs "Empire" – took Smollett's word for it and said the company "stands united" against any act of violence and hate
A few days ago, amid rumors that Smollett might have concocted the attack because he was concerned about being written off "Empire," Fox said that was ridiculous: "He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him." This weekend Fox Reps said the company had no new comment …
How the narrative is changing
Two competing definitions of "media"
There is one view, promoted by professional anti-media messengers like Donald Trump Jr., who portray the media as one big blob. He tweeted that "media / Hollywood desperately wanted" Smollett's claims "to be true to push their hate of conservatives."
Then there's another view – which I know to be true – that "media" outlets and hundreds of thousands of people, with great journalists and lazy aggregators, with no single mission or belief system. Are there mistakes and built-in biases? Definitely. But most journalists are trying their best to report what's true. This challenging, chaotic world of media contradicts Don Jr.'s imagined world.
My question: What is the best way to help people who see a singular "media" enemy to see the wide world of "media" that actually exists?
Klem Foster and Liz Plank talked about Jussie Smollett's rush to judgment on Sunday's "Reliable Sources."
Sunday's "Reliable" debate
Foster urged skepticism on the part of the press – he said some people had doubts about Smollett's story early on, but "they were afraid to raise the questions because of the intersectional nature of this particular accusation."