In Chicago last year, 2948 people were shot; 561 were killed; almost all of the shooters and almost all of the victims were black. And the national news media yawned.
This wasn’t their kind of story. Black on black crime is not something that interests them. And it’s not only because in too many big American cities, it’s all too commonplace, amounting to a dog bites man story. No, there’s more to it than that.
Liberal journalists don’t like putting black people in a bad light, even if the black people in question are murderous thugs. White liberal guilt forbids it. Displaying good racial manners doesn’t allow it. So, by and large, they look the other way.
And then the Empire actor Jussie Smollett comes along to give journalists the kind of story they crave: a gay, black man minding his own business, just trying to get a sandwich on a bitter cold Chicago night, gets mugged by two white racists who put a noose around his neck and pour bleach on him while screaming racial and anti-gay slurs.
Oh, and one more thing that made the story too good to be true: They told their black victim: “This is MAGA country.”
If on top of everything else, journalists could blame Donald Trump supporters – and, of course, Donald Trump himself – for the crime, they’d have the kind of story they salivate over.
Except, as we now know, Jussie Smollett’s story has unraveled.
Chicago police say Smollett made the whole thing up, that he hired the two men – both black – to stage the mugging. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says Smollett, “took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to advance his career,” before adding, “I’m left hanging my head and asking why.”
That may not be so hard to answer. Jussie Smollett was simply taking advantage of the power that comes with being a victim in America. It’s how you get leverage. In Smollett’s case, he apparently was upset because he thought he wasn’t getting paid enough and wanted publicity to boost his career. Staging a fake attack – by anti-gay, anti-black, pro-Trump white men – was the way, he supposedly figured, to get sympathy and ultimately more money.
Race isn’t something you fool around with in America. But Jussie Smollett was willing to play with fire anyway. And too many mainstream journalists were more than willing not only to simply report the facts — that police were investigating his charges, which would have been legitimate — but to abandon their supposedly cherished skepticism and believe every word of his story.
Here are some examples collected by Breitbart:
Yamiche Alcindor, the White House correspondent for PBS, tweeted that,“We have to do better as a country. This is disgusting,”
Joyce Vance, an MSNBC contributor, tweeted: “If someone commits this kind of act under your banner, you should have the decency to publicly condemn them and say it’s not what you stand for. But I doubt Trump will.”
From Jamil Smith of Rolling Stone: “The brutal attack on him in Chicago appears to be yet another example not just of further moral decay, but of the brand of terrorism that still doesn’t seem to spark enough response by Americans.”
Or this from Zerlina Maxwell, an MSNBC analyst: “The media is broken. If they can’t call the attack on Jussie racist straight up then they need to find alternative employment.” Maxwell was upset by the use by some reporters of the word “apparent’ in front of “hate crime.” Here’s the rest of her outrage: “But to be clear pouring bleach on a Black person while you are yelling about MAGA = RACIST”
From Joy Reid of MSNBC: “Nooses never really disappeared as messages of a very specific kind of terror but every time they’re used, my God, it’s chilling. Praying for Jussie’s full recovery. And for us all.”
From Karen Attiah, an editor at the Washington Post: “Regarding the heinous attack on @JussieSmollett, yet another reminder that Trump’s ascendance and the resulting climate of hate has meant that lives have been increasingly at stake since 2015. Smollett could have been killed by those thugs screaming MAGA. Let that sink in.”
And finally, from CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin, looking like an 18-wheeler just ran over her dog: “This is America in 2019.”
She’s right, but not the way she thinks. This is the state of too much American journalism in 2019, where reporters and editors are all too willing to believe anything that connects Donald Trump to a bigoted violent attack.
It’s also the state of too much of America in 2019 when playing the victim brings you sympathy and power and moral authority.
Before Smollett’s story fell apart, progressives who play at journalism were telling us how terrible the attack was, how saddened they were that something this terrible was still happening in America. But the dirty little secret is they were thrilled. It gave them the opportunity to show off their goodness, their racial sensitivity. It enabled them to provide “evidence” of one of their fundamental beliefs: that America is a racist, hateful country.
Liberal journalists apparently learned nothing from the fake Duke lacrosse rape story which they ran with despite the fact that there was no evidence linking the three Duke students to the supposed rape. All they needed to know is that the boys were white and supposedly privileged — and the victim was black.
They learned nothing more recently from the Covington, Kentucky Catholic school episode near the Lincoln Memorial, where a Native American walked up to a high school kid and banged his drum in the kid’s face – and the boy was portrayed as a racist – because he was white, male and was wearing a MAGA hat.
On racial matters, being a liberal journalist means never having to say you’re sorry – even when you should be.