As actor Jussie Smollett’s hate crime hoax unravels, the uncritical mainstream journalists who promoted his sketchy claims of a homophobic assault by two white Trump supporters aren’t the only ones with egg on their face. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is eating her words too.
While critics cautioned against a rush to judgment, Pelosi eagerly jumped to Smollett’s defense, tweeting,
“The racist, homophobic attack on @JussieSmollett is an affront to our humanity. No one should be attacked for who they are or whom they love. I pray that Jussie has a speedy recovery & that justice is served. May we all commit to ending this hate once & for all.”
Now that two black men connected with Smollett’s TV series Empire were arrested on suspicion of committing the assault, evidence increasingly points to the whole story being a hoax to get attention.
Considering the frequency of fake hate crime reports in recent years, and the “fake news” perception of the media that many people now share, journalists and politicians alike would do well to restrain themselves from automatically embracing such stories. But recent history suggests they won’t.
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