Trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube, Jussie Smollett edition

Trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube, Jussie Smollett edition
Jussie Smollett — the wet look (Image: ABC News video screen grab)

Hoaxes and fake news stories of abuses by supporters of Donald Trump have now become almost a daily occurrence. In most cases, those who believe in these works of fiction stand their ground to the bitter end. There are still liberals among us, for example, who insist, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that the students from Covington Catholic school harassed American Indian “elder” Nathan Phillips and will go to their graves clinging to that mythical account.

The cautionary tale of gay actor Jussie Smollett seems to be the exception. Perhaps it is because the fats still emerging paint such an unambiguous picture of fraud and willful deceit, but whatever the explanation Smollett’s defenders are rapidly jumping ship.

This is not to suggest that the Left will ever admit to being wrong in immediately aligning themselves with fakers. Take the explanation put forth by CNN host Brian Stelter, who admitted today that “there was a rush to judgment” in Smollett’s case, but hastened to add that it wasn’t on the part of from media outlets like his:

There was a rush to judgment, I think it was mostly in the celebrity press and among activists and among Twitter people. I think it was a really careful reporting by news organizations. But it all gets lumped in together at the end of the day.

Stelter wasn’t the only “journalist” to make this claim. Vox’s Liz Plank said on Sunday:

The people who were repeating that quote were not news outlets. … It was repeated by, sure, people who maybe had good intentions of wanting to spread the story. … We can’t confuse celebrity tweets with the media and the press.

The problems with these CYA complaints twofold. First, the line between the so-called “celebrity media” and the legitimate press is becoming increasingly blurred. As a case in point, on Saturday three “news reporters” accompanied presidential hopeful Kamala Harris on a “laugh-filled shopping spree” for clothes and recorded highlights on Twitter.

Second, on Feb. 5, no less a “serious news source” than the Associated Press reported (via The New York Times) reported:

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett told police that two men seemed to know who he was before they beat him, shouted racial and homophobic slurs, and looped a rope around his neck during an early-morning attack in Chicago, according to a recently released police report.

Notice that qualifiers like allegedly and reportedly appear nowhere in the lede or in the headline: “Smollett Told Police Attackers Knew He Was on ‘Empire.'”

The outlets were reporting Smollett’s allegations as fact. It doesn’t get any more “hard news” than that.

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer and regular contributor to "Liberty Unyielding."


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