When Jussie Smollett first claimed to have been attacked by the hordes of Donald Trump fans who wander the streets of Chicago in the middle of the night in sub-zero temperatures, quite a lot of media personalities and celebrities accepted his story at face value. Now that it appears Smollett may have fabricated the story, and may have been willing to send two others to prison over it, those who were quick to rush to judgement are not as quick to issue a mea culpa. Instead, they’re pretending that they didn’t do anything wrong.
Let’s take Brian Stelter, for example. As host of CNN’s Reliable Sources, his job is to call the media out on bad reporting. Over the weekend, he said that it wasn’t really reporters who accepted Smollett’s story, it was activists and celebrities. Umm, not so much.
Today, @brianstelter: "There was a rush to judgment… mostly in the celebrity press… activists… Twitter people. I think it was a really careful reporting by news organizations."
CNN, January 29: "Empire" actor victim of racist and homophobic assault"https://t.co/43cvuA5QZC pic.twitter.com/Hrar2tXWzI
— Jeryl Bier (@JerylBier) February 18, 2019
If you can’t see it in Bier’s tweet, Stelter’s own network posted this:
Liz Plank from Vox tried the same thing. Basically saying that sure, people spread the story, but not news outlets. You can watch the video here. Incidentally, in the video, she’s on Stelter’s show.
Vox's Liz Plank on "This is MAGA country" quote: "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. pic.twitter.com/ayGHYmxYk8
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) February 17, 2019
She must be very bad at Googling
“MAGA Country”@TMZ: https://t.co/pIEFJyNd2L@HuffPost: https://t.co/HNknD3kCMi@USATODAY: https://t.co/QXruzMvkur@CBSNews: https://t.co/xPsTZgYdJx@People: https://t.co/dNDVllTmTV@JDForward: https://t.co/uzBJczM92b
This took one minute.
I could go on but y’all get it. https://t.co/xyFtYASel7
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) February 17, 2019
On the same panel, Bill Carter told Stelter that the ABC interview was a celebrity interview, not a news interview. You mean this one, where the words “ABC NEWS” feature prominently?
— Lisa Fung (@lfung) February 17, 2019
C.S. Lewis predicted this more than 60 years ago.
The Washington Post opinion page was well predicted by CS Lewis pic.twitter.com/Ic4Nf1jpKG
— PoliMath (@politicalmath) February 17, 2019
“Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, ‘Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything — God and our friends and ourselves included — as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.”
Yep. People would rather having violent bands of MAGA-wearing criminals roaming the streets of Chicago hurting innocent people than to be wrong.
I’ll leave you with this important question from Jussie Smollett himself:
Who is more to blame? A Devil who spreads obvious lies or a fool who chooses to believe those lies and pass them along? 🤔 #Thoughts
— Jussie Smollett (@JussieSmollett) March 22, 2016
A huge shout out to local Chicago news, who reported on this as actual journalists from the beginning.