Ethics Observations On The Jussie Smollett Hoax

Lookin’ mighty smug there, Jussie…

Or, “How’s that ‘believe all victims’ stuff working for you’?”

Last night, the ugly truth of what many had suspected was confirmed. One of the few benefits of CNN assiduously burying stories that reflect poorly on the Left, “the resistance,” progressives and their allies is that when it does report such a story, you can probably believe it…unlike, say, its speculation about the Mueller investigation. Here is the substance of the CNN report:

Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation tell CNN that Chicago Police believe actor Jussie Smollet paid two men to orchestrate an assault on him that he reported late last month. The men, who are brothers, were arrested Wednesday but released without charges Friday after Chicago police cited the discovery of “new evidence.”The sources told CNN the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement.

Smollett told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.” He said one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him. The sources told CNN there are records that show the two brothers purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at a hardware store in Chicago….Smollett identifies as gay and since 2015 has played the gay character of Jamal on the Fox TV drama “Empire.”…According to Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, the actor told detectives he was attacked by two men near the lower entrance of a Loews hotel in Chicago. Police were told the two men yelled “‘Empire’ faggot” and “‘Empire’ nigger'” while striking him.

…One of the men has appeared on “Empire,” Guglielmi said. A police source also told CNN on Friday night that the men had a previous affiliation with Smollett, but did not provide additional details.

Following the alleged attack, Smollett’s colleagues and fans rallied around him, expressing shock and sadness. “We have to love each other regardless of what sexual orientation we are because it shows that we are united on a united front,” Lee Daniels, the creator of “Empire,” said in a video posted to his Instagram page on January 29. “And no racist fuck can come in and do the things that they did to you. Hold your head up, Jussie. I’m with you.” Smollett gave his first detailed account of what he says was a hate crime against him, and the aftermath, in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” that aired Thursday. During the interview he expressed frustration at not being believed.
“It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more,” Smollett said. “And that says a lot about the place where we are as a country right now.”

Got that last part? That’s the coded and not so subtle “this is all because Donald Trump is a racist and bigot” message, making it a catalyst for the Big Lie.


  • This wasn’t “believe all women,” it was “believe all black, gay celebrities with an anti-Trump agenda.” Never mind that the story sounded contrived; the news media simply assumed that it Smullett’s account was true, and quickly crossed the line between reporting and personal bias. Don Lemon—is there a worse and more unprofessional hack anywhere on TV, quickly made himself part of the news story (Pssst! Don! Ethical journalists aren’t supposed to do that!) From E! Online:

Lemon has remained singularly focused on Smollett’s well-being since the attack. “It’s been reported this happened or that happened, but my main concern is for him and for his well-being,” Lemon said. “… One, he has to deal with discrimination as a black man, then, on top of that, he has to be gay and he’s out. And then fame.”

“Fame is not natural. I don’t think people were meant to be famous,” he continued. “… When something happens and it’s controversial, everyone is coming for you. And so I knew everyone would be picking apart his story. It’s not for me. That’s not my concern. My concern is for him.”

That concern has led Lemon to check in on Smollett every day with text messages.

“So every day I say… ‘I know you think I’m annoying you, but I just want to know how you’re doing. And that you’re OK. And that if you need somebody you can talk to me because there’s not a lot of us out there,'” Lemon revealed. “Sometimes he responds, sometimes he doesn’t. He responded and said, ‘You are not annoying.'”

  • This is an integrity check for…oh, why am I kidding myself? These people have no integrity. Will any of the Democratic officials and celebrities who decided to exploit the fake stort for political points apologize? Nah, but here’s a sampling:

Senator Kamala Harris: “This was an attempted modern day lynching,”

Senator Cory Booker: “The vicious attack on actor Jussie Smollett was an attempted modern-day lynching.” – @corybooker

Nancy Pelosi: “The racist, homophobic attack on Jussie Smullett is an affront to our humanity.”

Rep. Aleaxandria Ocasio-Cortez: “This attack was not ‘possibly’ homophobic. It was a racist and homophobic attack.” – @AOC

Senator Bernie Sanders: “The racist and homophobic attack on Jussie Smollett is a horrific instance of the surging hostility toward minorities around the country.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: “We are all responsible for condemning this behavior and every person who enables or normalizes it.” – @SenGillibrand

ThnkProgress: “Top Republicans, White House silent about attack on Jussie Smollett, despite ‘MAGA’ comments.”  (It is unclear whether Smollett orinigally told police that his attackers made Trump-slogan comments during their attack. Police initially said so, then Smollett, possibly deciding that this was laying it on a bit thick, denied it.)

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill): “Make no mistake: young people watch our nation’s leaders & learn from their example. Hateful words perpetuate these despicable actions, which is why we must stand up & speak out against intolerance every single day.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich):“When one of the most famous black and gay men in America is not safe, the message is clearer than it has ever been. The dangerous lies spewing from the right wing is killing & hurting our people.”

Actor Nico Tortorella: “…The red hat is the white hood. no ifs ands or buts. if you wear it, you attacked jussie. if you support them, you attack all of us. watch us rally.

Oscar-nominated Film Director and Writer Barry Jenkins:“Thinking of Jussie. Saddened. Heartbroken. Angry. ALL of it. Wouldn’t matter that he is the kindest soul. But he IS the kindest soul. And this is FUCKED. This is what all that hateful mongering has wrought. Are you PROUD???”

Actress Reese Witherspoon:“This is beyond upsetting. What happened to Jussie Smollette is a truly horrible racist, homophobic hate crime. I hope we can find an end to the hate and fear that plagues this country.” – 

There are many more, but maybe Reese’s is a good place to stop. Smollett and his ideological allies are the ones working to create fear, division and distrust, and yet somehow their projections on their targets are taken seriously. Of course, an uncritical news media devoted to their cause is very helpful.

  • Meanwhile, Grabien news put together this infuriating montage of the mainstream media leaping to conclusions, essentially duplicating their knee-jerk acceptance of narrative-supporting false story in the Covington students embarrassment.

How many times will the news media be exposed and diminished by this kind of episode before they decide that they really have to reform and address their systemic biases?Has any Presidential administration seen half this many false stories prematurely trumpeted as significant by journalists?

  • Now wait for the Sharpton Spin, echoing Reverend Al’s dodge when his Tawana Brawley media circus was exposed as a hoax. Al’s argument, repeated by activists, was that Tawana’s story, lie that it was, could have happened in racist America, so it was legitimate nonetheless.

Do let Ethics Alarms know when this first surfaces in an attempt to mitigate Smollett’s hoax.

  • Many are already embracing the lament expressed by A/V News: “Meanwhile, faking an incident like this will only make it more difficult for victims of hate crimes to be believed when they really do occur, an injection of lethal doubt that could carry an uncountable human toll.”

The ethical response to this is “Good!” No accusation should be believed based on who the accuser is or the profound wishes of activists and the news media that it be true. The accused and the accuser have equal rights, and neither should be able to presume immunity from hard facts, evidence, and due process.

  • If the current police conclusions are accurate, Smollett should go to jail.


66 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On The Jussie Smollett Hoax

  1. There’s other ways to look at this, Jack.

    Lefty needed a Next Big Thing after the Covington Catholic kids debacle blew up in their collective face.

    Or, with selfless We Are The World compassionate humanitarianism, Smollett merely hired a couple of immigrants to do a job that Americans refused to do: stage a fake hate-crime.

    Anywho, Smollet: “You know, it was very icy and we ended up tussling by the stairs — fighting, fighting, fighting — there was a second person involved who was kicking me in my back and then it just stopped and they ran off…”

    Seriously…SERIOUSLY? Smollett expects inhabitants of a fact-based Universe to believe the he was ”fighting, fighting, fighting” THOSE guys and all he came away with was a puffy face???

    There should be a picture of those guys in the dictionary under the listing BRICK $#!THOUSE!

    “If the current police conclusions are accurate, Smollett should go to jail.”

    You damn skippy! AND reimburse every agency involved for the time and resources he made them waste chasing his bullshit!

    • AND reimburse every agency involved for the time and resources he made them waste chasing his bullshit!

      Are you insinuating that the Chicago police have better things to do than chase around every store in the city looking for a certain kind of rope? What would you have them do instead, investigate one of the 38 homicides or hundreds of actual assaults committed in their fair city so far this year alone? You do realize that none of those victims was almost sort-of famous like Smollett, right?

      • The cops always knew his story was a lie. They were looking for proof. Given the high profile of the case and the poisonous effect that Smollett’s tale was having on public attitudes, I think that the effort that they put into disproving it was a worthwhile investment of resources.

        • Ah, that could be it. Having lived in Chicago for some years about a decade or so back, I was surprised to hear that the neighborhood around Navy Pier is “MAGA Country” today. There must have been a massive shift in the population of that area since I was there last. That “MAGA Country” neighborhood does seem to have quite a bit less crime than, say, Englewood or Garfield Park, so maybe the detectives really did have nothing better to do than chase down Smollett’s utterly implausible story.

          • ”There must have been a massive shift in the population of that area”

            Good point.

            What I remember from an interview with a resident, who expressed incredulity with the MAGA reference: ”half the people in this neighborhood are gay and the other half are black.”

  2. My question is this: how deep does this rabbit hole go?

    Did Smollett concoct this story by himself, or was this part of a broader effort involving more than just him?

    I know this sounds like a conspiracy theory, and I hate that, but the almost universal unwillingness for anyone to wait until the facts come out looks suspicious to me. Also suspicious is why Smollett would apparently involve himself in such a stupid affair with no apparent reason. I know some have speculated that he’s being written off Empire and this is a publicity stunt, but the executives in charge of empire have denied this convincingly.

    Also suspicious are the sheer number of these sorts of hoaxes that have materialized since 2016.

    Something about this smells ever so slightly of cheese. As I have said many times now, I no longer use Hanlon’s Razor in evaluating the actions of the Left. They have proven over and over that it may not reliably be applied to them.

  3. Wait. This guy I’d never heard of who is evidently a gay icon, and black, is employed by a TV show that runs on … FOX?

    And shouldn’t the two Nigerian stud muffins at least be charged with chronic illegal use of steroids?

    • I’m taking the middle-of-the-road here, OB.

      I don’t want to compromise the release of a sizable inheritance due me as the heir to a massive Nigerian fortune.

      Just waiting for my $10000 personal check for the transfer fee to clear…

      I’d like a ruling from resident mental health clinician dragin_dragon: how the fuck do people get ideas like this into their brainpans AND once they do, think they’ll get away with it?

      If this does continue in the direction it appears to be headed, the reaction of the politicians, the TV talking heads, and the small-n-big screen units that unquestioningly swallowed this whole will be signature significance.

  4. His story was preposterous from the start and the fact that anybody gave it the slightest credence shows how delusional a large part of the country is. How can they not have noticed yet that almost all incidents like this one turn out to be hoaxes? But especially this one, where supposedly he was confronted at 2AM in weather 20 degrees below zero by two men wearing MAGA caps (on top of their balaclavas?) stalking the streets carrying a noose and caustic chemicals hoping to find a solitary gay black man so they could beat him up and humiliate him. Does anybody suppose that the cops ever bought his story? And still none of my anti-Trump friends doubted it for a minute or would listen to any skeptical analysis.

    Question: Is Smollett’s career over? Or will we see him some day on a “lessons learned” book tour followed by rehabilitation in show business in some capacity or another?

    • The story immediately brought to my mind the racial slurs scrawled in shit on a wall in an Oberlin College building that turned out to be a hoax. Don’t people have hoax/false flag alarms yet? It took me a while, but, come on gang.

    • ”Or will we see him some day on a ‘lessons learned’ book tour followed by rehabilitation in show business in some capacity or another?”

      Heh! Don’t know why, but for some reason that reminded of the breathtaking hubris of former Detroit Mayor/current inmate Ft. Dix Federal Correction Institution Kwame Kilpatrick as he tendered his…um…recommended resignation ~ 10 1/2 years ago:

      I want to tell you, Detroit, that you done set me up for a comeback.

    • Greg wrote: “But especially this one, where supposedly he was confronted at 2AM in weather 20 degrees below zero by two men wearing MAGA caps (on top of their balaclavas?) stalking the streets carrying a noose and caustic chemicals hoping to find a solitary gay black man so they could beat him up and humiliate him.”

      Wait. It didn’t happen that way? At all? Really? I routinely have a bag of rope and bleach with me. You never know when that stuff might come in handy.


          • Always carry duct tape. And never tear it without wearing fingerprint concealing gloves. Also, use alternate strips so that the bits cannot be aligned later to show they came from your roll, or that they came from the same roll. (Better yet, get rid of the roll after use… and the clothes you wore, and the car you drove)

            Rope is for amateurs.

            (Thank you, CSI: I learned something from TV)

  5. For the most part, I agree with you, but I have to question your final conclusion. If we set aside the obnoxious politics and unskeptical media grandstanding, we’re left with False Police Report, a class 4 felony in Illinois. While such offenses CAN carry a penalty of 1-3 years in prison, they are also probationable. In mitigation, we have that it appears to be a first offense, and that nobody else was physically harmed. The defense will no doubt argue low likelihood of reoffending and otherwise good character. In aggravation, we have only the need for deterrence, a factor which Illinois courts have cautioned against giving undue weight. The expenditure of police resources is not in the sentencing statute as a factor in aggravation, and neither is political obnoxiousness.

    I think that, viewed dispassionately, a good case can be made for probation, community service (required by the statute where incarceration is not imposed), and a fine.

      • That train left the station with The Reverend Al Sharpton, Jr. at the controls and Tawana Brawley and her family riding in first class.

      • Well, first I believe I did mention punishment over and above probation, to wit community service and a fine. Second, that argument could be made about just about any offense, especially other class 4 felonies, yet probation remains a lawful and commonly used sentence for these crimes. The courts caution against giving great weight to the deterrence factor, specifically because it can be almost universally applied, and therefore doesn’t really distinguish one crime from another at all. For a sentence to be ethical, it must first be equitable – by which I mean it should be similar to other sentences handed down for crimes of similar severity under similar circumstances. Is it typical to incarcerate first-time offenders for non-violent class 4 felonies in Illinois?

        • Perhaps the issue is that classifying it as a class 4 felony is too light. I’m of the belief that, if we’re going to have “hate crime” statutes that treat violent crimes as worse offenses when committed with a racial motive, then hate crime hoaxes should be treated as more severe than other false police reports as well, as they, too, have a racial motive. Inflaming racial animus in society for personal or political gain is worse than, say, lying about being mugged so your wife doesn’t find out you were with a prostitute.

    • Unless you see the tremendous social harm that such stunts cause. This is no less a hate crime than scrawling racial slurs on the side of a black church.

      Smollet attempted to virtually lynch all white that support Trump. We are fortunate insofar as the media posse who corraled the narrative that Trump and Trump supporters are causing a rise in hate crimes can be called out and the victims will survive but the claims nonethless leave the proverbial ligature marks around the, politically abused, accused’s necks.

      • I’m very leery of inflating crimes by reason of some nebulous “social harm”. I hear the Chinese are big fans of that concept.

        There are any number of pernicious narratives and ideas that cause similar “social harm” but are nonetheless not crimes. To punish the same thing just because you can now connect it to an actual crime smacks of punishing people for their politics.

        • DaveL
          I understand your concern about inflating crimes but that is exactly what current hate crime legislation does.

          We either get rid of all special circumstances laws or we apply them uniformly.

          Personally, I think all hate crime laws are wrong. I also think the violence against women laws are wrong. Why does it matter what the race or gender is? Are these classes of people superior in rights? Violence is violence and should be adjudicated as such.

          What I truly object to is an alleged victim given an opportunity on national tv to cast all who support a particular elected person as racists. When some cis-gendered white male in his 50’s is given time on GMA with Robin Roberts in which he casts all members of a different group as violent bigots then I’ll give this a pass.

          • Agreed. i had a discussion about hate crime legislation with an attorney colleague. She believed that hate crime laws were necessary to address social injustice. I asked her why my son, who is not a member of a protected minority, would treated differently in terms of crime and sentencing if he were assaulted than the same crime committed against a protected class. Her response: “Oh. I never thought of it that way.”


      • While the allegations are truly obnoxious, I have read that Smollet was willing to swear an affidavit against “persons of interest” the Chicago Police Department had identified as fitting Smollet’s description. Seems to me that the CPD had real questions from the being and were wondering how far Smollet would be willing to go with the canard.


  6. So if it’s true the two Nigerian dudes attacked an African American gay guy in a hate crime, how does that end up? Can black people commit hate crimes against other black people? Should America be having a conversation about this? Anyone?

    • ”Can black people commit hate crimes against other black people?”

      Tough call; the “gay” factor might just tip the scales. But decisions with grave consequences require heavyweight input.

      Three consultations from an unimpeachable source (Magic 8 Ball) reveal:

      ● Concentrate and ask again.
      ● Better not tell you now.
      ● Cannot predict now.

      Ouija Board results expected shortly.

  7. No lie is too small or too big to tell as long as it involves demonizing and criminalizing those with whom the left and resistance disagrees. If it distracts from other simultaneous inconvenient realities, so much the better.

  8. I am infuriated even more by this, knowing that people who expressed scepticism of Smollett’s claims were themselves demonized as “blaming the victim”. Our country is plagued by rising anger and hatred, not because White racists and bigots feel empowered, but because the media keeps pushing myths of persecution, bigotry, and racism. Rioters and vandals feel justified because they adre fighting alleged fascists.

    • James M. writes: “Our country is plagued by rising anger and hatred, not because White racists and bigots feel empowered, but because the media keeps pushing myths of persecution, bigotry, and racism. Rioters and vandals feel justified because they are fighting alleged fascists.”

      It seems to me that this is a *surface* analysis. My opinion is that certain sectors in the MSM, with their deep connections with governing structures, have deep investments in various forms of *mystification*. They push the angles that place the focus on superficial manifestations without accompanying analysis about why these things are going on.

      It is an interpretive issue. The NYTs, from the beginning, framed the issues through a *story* about sensible & responsible university types having to deal with the reaction among (white) working-class people without university education. This is an extension of the *argument*, which is also an Rx, put forward in The Authoritarian Personality. Here, Adorno explains his view, and doing so (IMO) explains how the NYTs and the NY Establishment define itself vis-a-vis The Masses:

      The individual has to cope with problems which he actually does not understand, and he has to develop certain techniques of orientation, however crude and fallacious they may be, which help him to find his way through the dark…On the one hand, they provide the individual with a kind of knowledge, or with substitutes for knowledge, which makes it possible for him to take a stand where it is expected of him, whilst he is actually not equipped to do so. On the other hand, by themselves they alleviate psychologically the feeling of anxiety and uncertainty and provide the individual with the illusion of some kind of intellectual security, of something he can stick to even if he feels, underneath, the inadequacy of his opinions.

      Here, the *social scientist* and *the social psychologist* gaze down on The Crowd and interpret it, not to it, but to themselves. The purpose of knowledge is to gain and consolidate power. And it is true that they have access to *proper* information and an intellectual consensus. But, I suggest that this *interpretation* has led to the various forms of social engineering — some open, some covert — the results of which we now see in our present.

      Because *the common man* is, according to this definition (and it has elements of truth), cannot access real knowledge and only has “substitutes for knowledge”, they can only be and should only be *managed* by cultural managers who know. And what they know is that the social structures and the familial structures that enable ‘the authoritarian personality’ must be weakened, attacked, drawn into question, and also undermined. This leads, naturally, toward some of the typical Marxian praxis: and some of this, or much of this, defines our post-Sixties age: radical upheaval, radical assault on social hierarchies, and the fomenting of extreme divisions.

      Adorno also wrote:

      Rigid dichotomies, such as that between “good and bad,” “we and the others,” “I and the world” date back to our earliest developmental phases…They point back to the “chaotic” nature of reality, and its clash with the omnipotence fantasies of earliest infancy. Our stereotypes are both tools and scars: the “bad man” is the stereotype par excellence…Modern mass communications, molded after industrial production, spread a whole system of stereotypes which, while still being fundamentally “un-understandable” to the individual, allow him at any moment to appear as being up to date and “knowing all about it.” Thus, stereotyped thinking in political matters is almost inescapable.

      Again, an interesting analysis that expresses certain truths. It expresses truths about mass culture and communications, no doubt. But, as it has played out, this sort of social psychology has allowed and has called forth various projects of ‘social engineering’ to help cure the benighted Mass Man of his essential problem. The *problem* is reduced to a simplistic trope, and a *scary picture* is used to represent it. There is a great deal more that can be said about this.

      Here is a book that opens the way to a fuller analysis:

      Book: National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy (Roger Eatwell, Matthew Goodwin, Penguin, 2018)

      Across the West, there is a rising tide of people who feel excluded, alienated from mainstream politics, and increasingly hostile towards minorities, immigrants and neo-liberal economics. Many of these voters are turning to national populist movements, which have begun to change the face of Western liberal democracy, from the United States to France, Austria to the UK.

      This radical turn, we are told, is a last howl of rage from an aging electorate on the verge of extinction. Their leaders are fascistic and their politics anti-democratic; their existence a side-show to liberal democracy. But this version of events, as Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin show, could not be further from the truth.

      Written by two of the foremost experts on fascism and the rise of national populism, this lucid and deeply-researched book is a vital guide to our transformed political landscape. Challenging conventional wisdoms, Eatwell and Goodwin make a compelling case for serious, respectful engagement with the supporters and ideas of national populism – not least because it is a tide that won’t be stemmed anytime soon.

      London School of Economics review of National Populism.

      In my view, the issue of our day is that of interpretation and fair analysis. This is a nerve-wracking task given that everyone is vying to have their version of truth ascend and dominate.

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