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Why Jussie Smollett's case warranted skepticism from the very beginning



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.

In short: It's really complicated. So here's the latest …

Smollett's camp still says he's a victim

Police sources told CNN and other outlets on Saturday that new evidence suggests Smollett has either orchestrated the attack. But his attorneys responded by saying that he was a "victim of a hate crime" who did not play a role in the attack …

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

Nothing.

1
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

The national outrage about Smollett's apparent suffering "was fueled in part by celebrities who spoke out loud and strong on social media, "the AP's Lindsey Bahr wrote. "But the outrage has now been replaced by surprise, doubt and bafflement …" And the authorities still are not commenting, so this case is still a mystery …

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."

Plank was more concerned about the downstream effects of a potential hate-crime hoax. "The fact that one robbery was fake is not a problem," she said. "The fact that there is one false rape accusation does not mean that there is no rape. We have to cover these issues as trends and patterns." Bill Carter also joined in … Watch part one and part two of the segment here …

the "national emergency" on Monday …

Read more of Sunday's "Reliable Sources" newsletter … And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox. ..
– Have you heard all the "coup" talk on Fox News? We dissected it on Sunday's show … (CNN)

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