The news was everywhere when “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett claimed he was attacked by two “MAGA-country”-shouting assailants who dumped a liquid, apparently bleach, on him and put a noose around his neck.
Now that Chicago police have said they are investigating the case not as a possible hate crime, but as a possible hoax, and have confirmed Smollett is no longer is considered a victim, one social-media giant apparently doesn’t like it.
PJ Media reported Facebook dumped two posts about the apparent hoax:
You are not allowed to say on Facebook that Jussie Smollett carried out a hate hoax. pic.twitter.com/jnFx7aQFbS
— Rod Dreher (@roddreher) February 17, 2019
My friend @JenKernsUSA’s incisive column on #jussiesmolett and the hoaxes of the past, has been blocked by @facebook for “violating community standards” — but you can read and share it here — https://t.co/qHkRBzdP6x
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) February 16, 2019
The report said Facebook was preventing people from sharing two conservative articles on how Smollett’s claim was unraveling.
The comments were from Rod Dreher, author of “The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation,” and Daily Caller reporter Jen Kerns.
The incident had been characterized as an example of what President Trump was inspiring.
See Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters’ take:
Waters charged Trump was “dog-whistling” and said the purported opposition to homosexuality and blacks exemplified in the “attack” was “coming from the president of the United States.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, while not directly blaming the president, said there is no place for homophobia and racism in society.
Monday, CBS reported, two Nigerian brothers arrested in the case were released and described by police as no longer suspects.
A source told the network the two claimed Smollett paid them for the attack. They said they purchased the rope at a hardware store and have evidence of the sale.
Police said they were asking for a followup interview with Smollett, whose lawyers said there were no plans for him to talk with police again.
Canada Free Presss noted Smollett’s sisters, actresses and activists Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and Jazz Smollett-Warwell, “worked as leading campaign surrogates for former President Barack Obama, and less than a year ago, videos of Jussie dancing with Michelle Obama went viral.”
Smollett claimed two men shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him and screamed “This is MAGA country” at him during the “attack.”
The report said: “Smollett-Bell posted the following message about her support for Obama on Instagram on President Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day: Feeling a lot of emotions. I remember meeting then Senator @barackobama 9 years ago. I’d been invited to introduce him in Nevada during the primaries. He was the underdog, the odds were stacked against him. Said he was too young, too black, too different … he was an other. I’ve always been an other so I saw myself in him. My own relative told me I was wasting my time, going state to state, knocking on doors for this guy with the funny name. I can’t tell you how many people hung the phone up on my sister @jazzsmollettwarwell and me as we clocked in our hours, phone banking.”
Chicago police said Saturday their investigation had changed.
“We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation. We’ve reached out to the Empire cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview,” they said.
The two suspects who were cleared, Ola and Abel Osundairo, were captured on surveillance video at the time of the attack. Ola Osundairo is connected to Smollett through the hit show “Empire,” on which he played a prisoner.
WND requested comment from Facebook and got an automated response.
The Daily Mail of London said Smollett was “furiously” denying he paid the two Nigerians $3,500 to carry out a fake attack.
Smollett’s lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, released a statement claiming their client further was being victimized “by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth.”
During the investigation, it was revealed there was no security video footages of the attack, and Smollett handed over only partial telephone records he said would support his claim.
Her tweet said: “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…”
The Daily Caller reported, however, that others have yet to retract their original statements.
According to Newsbusters, ABC’s Good Morning America crew was forced into “full damage control mode” when the story flipped and Smollett no longer was the “victim.”
“Just last Thursday, anchor Robin Roberts had given the actor a softball interview, even refusing to call his story of a Trump supporter assaulting him, ‘alleged,'” the report said.
She, however, noted that police reports Smollett set up the attack were “alleged.”
Variety said Smollett, contrary to claims, was not being written out of the show.
At theRoger Friedman’s Showbiz411 noted the show’s ratings had been fading fast.
“The last season, which started in September, returned with just 6 million viewers. The second week saw a decline of 1 million. On November 14th, the number dropped below 5 million to 4.8 million. The show finished on December 5th with just over 5 million total, and a weak 1.50 in the demo,” the report said.
“Was Smollett worried about the ratings? His so-called mugging was the most publicity ‘Empire’ has had in eons. Whether Smollett’s story turns out to be true or not, it will definitely have an impact on the March 13th return. It could be this was some kind of misguided effort to get attention.”