As it turns out, those who were questioning Jussie Smollett’s “hate crime” story were right to be skeptical.

Red State‘s Sarah Lee wrote yesterday that the case of the alleged hate crime Smollett said happened to him in the early morning hours of January 29th in Chicago is starting to fall apart. One of the alleged “attackers”, it was reported, was an extra on the “Empire” set.

But in a new development, the Chicago PD say a possible motivation for the openly gay actor to stage a fake hate crime was because his job might have been on the chopping block:

Chicago police confirmed Thursday that detectives are talking to two persons of interest in connection with the alleged attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.

Multiple sources have told ABC7 Eyewitness News that police are investigating whether Smollett and the two men staged the attack allegedly because Smollett was being written off of “Empire.”

A source familiar with the investigation told the ABC7 I-Team that Smollett failed to appear for an interview with detectives earlier Thursday, but has since spoken with police.

His reps and Fox dispute that report:

Smollett’s representatives said he is not being written off “Empire.”

Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released a statement saying, “The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of EMPIRE is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”

Though his reps, Fox, and the “Empire” writers are denying he was being written off the show, that says nothing about what Smollett might have believed about his future with the popular series.

He told Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts in an interview yesterday he believed critics of his story were motivated by race:

“If I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me much more.”

If breaking news reports coming out of Chicago about this case are accurate, the only potential racial angle of significance in this story is that the two “persons of interest” seen in the screen captures released by the police are Nigerian:

Neighbors said they believe the men, who are Nigerian, are brothers who grew up in that apartment, and have lived there for years. Neighbors described them as friendly and possibly body builders, and said they have long wanted to be actors.

Reason‘s Robby Soave breaks down what this all means:

But the fact that the two men evidently knew Smollet—a detail confirmed by their attorney—certainly makes inside job a more plausible explanation than random hate crime. At the very least, it seems vanishingly unlikely that the perpetrators were white Trump voters.

Yep. And don’t forget, too, the threatening letter containing white powder that was sent to Smollett at Cinespace Studios just days before the alleged attack. Was that staged as well?

If it’s ultimately confirmed this was a hate crime hoax, a whole lot of people who defended Smollett are going owe apologies, like 2020 hopeful Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and many others.

Fox 32‘s Rafer Weigel provides an update this morning on where things stand:

This is a developing story. Stay tuned for updates.

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Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter.–