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Op-Ed: Jussie Smollett’s Clumsy Execution of Hoax Failed To Capitalize On Outrage Addiction, Will Have Lasting Effects on Public Opinion


Jussie Smollett
Jussie Smollett’s conviction for lying to police about a racist, homophobic attack that never actually happened came nearly three years after his now proven false reports. File photo: Kathy Hutchins, Shutter Stock, licensed.

LOS ANGELES, CA – A few years ago, I didn’t even know who Jussie Smollett was. But a big news story about an attack in Chicago, supposedly fueled by racism and homophobia, put him on my radar. Today, this story gets filed under “failed leftist textbook publicity stunts”.

I vividly remember my first reaction to the breaking news story of the completely random attack on the “Empire” actor, with the perpetrator supposedly shouting racist and homophobic epithets. There were red flags from the start. I understand 2 am in a major city. Drunk people say stupid things and sometimes it escalates to violence. But two black men targeting a D-list actor in urban Chicago, and saying “It’s MAGA country” was just too ridiculous and unbelievable. Most people just don’t talk like that, especially if you’re in inner-city Chicago.

The verdict did not surprise me but the details that were uncovered over the last three years of investigation slightly did, as did the extent of the effort to stage this elaborate hoax on Smollett’s end. The media was happy to run with unverified claims and is silent as crickets today, after due process played out and the truth was exposed. 

I have written much about the post-racial world that the mainstream media seems to be oblivious to. Ironically, this world is in the type of environment Smollett was supposedly attacked in. These are urban areas where they vote in the same Democrats time after time, who at best, do nothing to solve issues like homelessness and crime, and at worst, perpetuate or manufacture and stage problems for kabuki theater, just like Smollett did. But everything down to the waiter messing up their order at the restaurant is all the Republicans’ fault.

The same woke mob loves to virtue signal on racism. Somehow, they are so much better than their racist parents because they put a BLM hashtag on their LinkedIn profile. Yet they shelter themselves from anyone unlike them, by only shopping in certain places, and associating with a narrow subset of people who think like them. These are mostly white city liberals, but the minorities are just as guilty of this. Bottom line: it’s a city phenomenon. The suburbs and the rural areas look very different.

So maybe it’s no surprise that media elites are so easily triggered by anyone with conservative views or God forbid, isn’t foaming at the mouth about Donald Trump, which is enough to tag you as a conservative today. They are first to believe Trump supporters would be randomly attacking D-list actors in Chicago. Way to vilify half the country and to show ignorance based on one piece of data. I think that’s called “bigotry”. 

But alas, there will be no retraction. For most of the public, the damage was done. The hoax was reported as fact and people will walk around believing this was true. Those who are true believers of the leftist agenda of victimhood will insist on a conspiracy. Those who are more honest will realize that this has hurt the true cause of fighting racism and homophobia.

Crying wolf is truly dangerous. Obviously Smollett has lost credibility. He was even written off his one claim to fame, his role in Empire.  But for the larger community, and for those who passively consume news, and much to the applause of the truly racist, this ends up discrediting the United States’ honest advancements of celebrating and elevating minority culture and achievements.

Recently, the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict was tweeted by certain celebrities, who never watched the trial, as “racist”. Never mind that no one involved was even a minority. It “sounds like” it fits the agenda, so let’s run with it. Woke celebrities like Alec Baldwin know this. Optics are enough, which is why he just tried going on TV denying he pulled the trigger, in what looked like the news media giving him a platform for damage control. Celebrities and much of the mainstream media have a tenuous relationship with the truth and facts. But optics are enough to influence enough minds and move public opinion. 

But yet this disregard for the end users, the public, is starting to get noticed. This arrogance is why many who at one point cared about racism, are slowly disengaging. Many of those annoyed as the left overplayed its hand, were and still are fighters for racial equality. They find it insulting to be lumped in with the “racists” and “bigots” just because of a small policy disagreement or simply because their skin is a certain hue.

These everyday Americans were the ones who were fine with not saying certain words and modifying their language to be sensitive to groups, such as adopting words like “Latinx”. They were willing to make concessions to be left alone to live their lives because they wanted their neighbors to be comfortable. 

Yet now, it goes beyond comfort. Smollett was manipulatively manufacturing outrage with a cynical desire to stir emotions, out of the foundation of a lie. And this type of stunt, or Alec’s teary eyed show for damage control, or the blatant disregard of facts when judging the Rittenhouse verdict, have become a bridge too far for the average citizen.

White and minority Americans, the ones in good faith, have fought the scourge of racism over the decades, with love and collaboration. To be subject to this vilification by the woke left instead of a “thank you”, is a slap on the face to our great American people with the media hitting the other cheek. A few times is fine, but enough repeated occurrences leaves a scar.

The media was happy to give Biden, Kamala and Al Sharpton a platform to join the outrage train when this hoax happened but they are now silent on the much needed retraction. Most average reasonable people would appreciate an admission that they were wrong and jumped to conclusions. But the left moves on like it never happened. It was a “drive by” shooting basically. 

Other questions that came to mind with this case: why didn’t Jussie spend as much of that energy to create this hoax, on his craft instead of this negativity? I have met and interviewed so many actors who really care about being the best in their craft. It’s hard work and takes dedication and time. Has the industry become less concerned with long term talent and more about short term attention stunts? Regular people are seeing the diminishing quality of entertainment and can’t escape the nonstop preaching by actors, singers, football players – it never ends.

Was this a publicity stunt for Smollett to stay relevant and get roles, thinking everyone is dedicated to the woke agenda? That’s some serious myopia right there if this was the calculation. From the discussions of this case by everyday people, left and right, the reasonable people are fed up with fake staged nonsense and we would rather get back to unifying our people. There are enough instances now, and public opinion is shifting, not in the direction of “regress” in disguise as “progress”, but back towards reasonability and objectivity.

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