In the wake of the shocking allegation that Empire star Jussie Smollett staged his own attack over a salary dispute, Fox News aired commentary that was surprisingly nuanced and appropriate.
At least, for a little while.
In a panel moderated by Fox & Friends’ Ainsley Earhardt, Chicago pastor Corey Brooks, former congressional press secretary Rochelle Ritchie, and Democratic strategist Richard Fowler expanded on why Smollett’s alleged lies shouldn’t distract from the reality of racist and homophobic violence in America.
When Earhardt asked Ritchie about Smollett’s possible agenda, the political analyst admitted, “I don’t know.” But she added that “even though this is a lie by Jussie, it does not negate the fact that racism is real in this country. And I really think that he has done a disservice to people who are going to be, unfortunately, victims of hate crimes.”
Fowler later chimed in to point out that Smollett has not yet been convicted, and that he deserves due process “like every other American.”
“But if this is a hoax, then this is what we have to realize,” he added. “Jussie’s case is the exception, not a norm. Because each and every day, there are LGBTQ folks who are beaten because of how they show up in the world[…] We have real problems in this country that we’ve got to deal with.”
“He makes a great point,” Ainsley responded, before turning the conversation to Brooks.
“Going forward, I would hope that hate crime victims get the attention they need,” Brooks said, claiming that only 17 percent of murders are solved in Chicago. “It took a lot from our city.”
And when Brooks pointed out that many people in Chicago never believed Smollett’s story, Ritchie jumped back in to reference the long history of abuse in black and LGBT communities.
“The reason why this story was so believable for some many people in the LGBT and in the black community is because we have seen multiple times in which we have been victims,” she said.
But Fox’s moment of sanity could only last for so long. The network also brought on Geraldo Rivera, who—despite the fact that he is not black—took it upon himself to call Smollett a “race traitor.”
After he watched Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson—whom Rivera described as a “dignified black man”—lay out the evidence against Smollett yesterday, Rivera said, “it’s become pretty clear to me, unless there’s some miracle evidence nobody knows about, this fellow Smollett is a race traitor.”
“He’s a cynical, selfish, self-absorbed person who would do absolutely anything to get a buck,” Rivera added, noting that Smollett “deserves all of the scorn, all of the ridicule, all of the contempt that people are expressing towards him now.”
That’s not all. The network also brought on Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who slammed congressional Democrats for initially blaming Trump for Smollett’s alleged attack.
“There were so many people, including a lot of leadership from the Democrat Party, everybody from Nancy Pelosi, Cory Booker and a number of others, mostly those running for president that quickly came out and attacked the president, blamed the president,” Sanders said.
“In fact, as we learn more, it certainly seems like the only person to blame in this case is Smollett. And it is another sad example of people so quick to want to attack and come after this president,” she added. “Much like you saw with the Covington kids, and certainly with this case as well.”