HORIST: Smollett creates the biggest little controversy
On the surface, it seems like a rather simple case. A black gay guy claims he was mugged and beaten by a couple of homophobic white supremacists who said “This is MAGA country” – suggesting that the low-life white guys were supporters of President Trump. They hung a noose around his neck for emphasis. This crime on the streets of Chicago would likely have gone unnoticed on the national scene except for a few significant elements.
First and foremost, the “victim” was a semi-prominent black actor named Jussie Smollett, who had a recurring role on “The Empire.” This made it fodder for the left-wing politically-correct adherents. Smollett was black, gay and Hollywood – and he was accusing guys who were supposedly white, conservative and Trump supporters. For the record, Smollett is bi-racial. His father is white and Jewish. But he is still a “person of color” as far as the far left is concerned.
Not to miss a golden opportunity for cheap-shot politics, Democrats – especially that platoon of presidential candidates – tumbled over each other to get to the cameras to provide responses. According to the talking points, this was yet another example of the toxic civic environment created by President Trump. His followers were thugs, who he unleashed on the nation. It was more evidence of the rampant homophobia and racism they claim abounds from sea to shining sea – woven into the very culture of American society. They expressed their sympathy for Smollett – including a few crocodile tears. They hyperbolically called it “a modern-day lynching.”
Now, even that story may have faded from the news reports in a few days, but then came a game changer. Suspicions began to develop. Evidence came out that suggested that Smollett was the perpetrator of a fraud and we the people were the actual victims.
The police did a far better job than Smollett could have ever anticipated. They found the guys who participated in that bit of street theater scripted by Smollett. It turned out that his co-conspirators were a couple of Nigerian brothers who served as personal trainers for Smollett – and in one case, worked on the set of “The Empire.” They fessed up.
Police held a press conference to share some of their evidence – and it was compelling. Not only did they find the guys, but they had security videos of them purchasing the props for the production. Smollett – in a display of mental deficiency – paid his fellow thespians by check and the police had it. This led to a 16-count indictment by a grand jury.
Smollett’s previous friends on the left split into two groups. On one side were those who were pissed. They were made to look like fools, and they did not like it. On the other side were the progressive stone-heads who grasped at ridiculous hypotheses to maintain Smollett as a cultural victim of some sort. Maybe something to do with President Andrew Jackson mistreating slaves in the mid-1800s. Or the tension of living in a mostly white luxury apartment in Chicago.
The path forward seemed clear. There would be a trial and Smollett would likely have been convicted on a number of the charges. While he potentially faced many years in jail due to the seriousness of his crime, he would likely get a very light sentence because he is a celebrity, after all. Most blacks who fall into the criminal justice system in Chicago are not so lucky.
Just as you think things are settling down, there was yet another bizarre game changer. The prosecutors announce that they are dropping all charges. Smollett had to forfeit his $10,000 bond and do community service at Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters. Does signing autographs and posing for photos qualify as community service? In this case, probably.
Prosecutors still maintain Smollett is guilty as Hell, but there would be no charges, no confession, no admission of guilt, no expression of remorse – which are a part of any such plea agreement. But not for Smollett. He walked out of court and arrogantly declared his innocence despite all that incriminating evidence that lingers in the public sphere like silent flatulence at a funeral.
Well, you can imagine the reaction of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his police chief. Actually, you do not have to imagine. They came out with angry statements against the prosecutors. It was a travesty of justice. The head of the police union called for a federal investigation since there were a couple of federal laws broken by Smollett. The feds were already on the case when President Trump chimed in. He was all for the federal investigation.
Trump’s assurance that the Department of Justice would investigate got a strange response from Emanuel. Based on the facts, it might appear to the rational observer that the Mayor and the President were on the same side – mutually outraged. But in these days of the #NeverTrump Resistance Movement no Democrat can be on the side of the President at any time for any reason. Soooo, Emanuel twists reality and common sense to blast the President for creating the toxic atmosphere that would cause Smollett to do such a dastardly thing. Yep! It was ALL caused by Trump. Where have we heard that song before?
Of course, Emanuel’s partisan spin did not answer the central question. Why did the prosecutors toss the case? Where was the highly touted rule-of-law and the principle that no man is above the law?
The best explanation they could come up with to explain the inexplicable was that Smollett is a nice guy. The “nice guy” defense strategy is not usually applied to folks indicted for serious crimes – or even not so serious crimes. Prosecutors assured the public that Smollett would never do such a thing again – although he did fake the mugging only after a previous attempt to get attention by faking a threatening letter with a “mysterious” powder failed to get a big response. And then there was that DUI case in which Smollett gave arresting officers a fake identity. Just what one can expect of a “nice guy.”
In another strange action, the court that blessed the agreement sealed the case. The judiciary did not want the press and the public to see the evidence. The judge was not only protecting Smollett. More importantly, she was putting up a fig leaf on the otherwise bare body of the prosecution. Seeing the detail might make them all look bad.
Then there was that phone call from Michelle Obama’s chief-of-staff Tina Tchen to the Cook County States’ Attorney Kim Foxx to show support for Smollett. I wonder how many times Tchen has called prosecutors to go easy on a black guy in Chicago. Or, is this a use of the celebrity hotline?
Foxx is the prosecutor who announced that she had recused herself because she had associations with key individuals in the case — and later said she did not. Foxx is cozy with such Smollett champions as presidential candidate Kamala Harris. The explanation for the recusal reversal comes short of satisfying. Her spokespeople said that when she said she had recused herself, it was in the “colloquial” sense of the word, not the “legal” sense. What in God’s name is the colloquial meaning of the word “recuse” when stated by the top LEGAL officer? (Ooops! Sorry. I seemed to have slipped into rational thinking.)
Those denying that Smollett got celebrity-level justice have about as much credibility as Smollett, himself. But the Smollett saga is not yet over. He may lose more money than that $10,000 bail bond. Seems the city is sending Smollett a bill for $130,000 for the expense of the unnecessary investigation that took police off the pursuit of real crimes. If he does not pay, will Chicago file a civil suit? If they do not, they are fools – but so far this case has been a ship of fools.
And then there is that federal case. He might have been better off admitting guilt and saying “sorry.” Now Smollett has made himself a bit of a pariah within the prosecutorial community outside of Chicago – and the feds can be bigger and badder than those local folks. This drama may have a sequel – maybe even a mini-series.
So, there ‘tis.