The Media and Jussie Smollett

How an Assault Shows the Media’s Ability to Turn Claims into Facts


   Actor Jussie Smollet’s trial is currently underway. The 39-year-old, gay, African American actor known for his role in the Fox drama Empire is currently facing six counts of disorderly conduct. On January 29th of 2019, Smollett is allegedly attacked outside his apartment building by two men in masks in MAGA hats, who poured bleach on him, wrapped a rope around his head, and shouted racial and homophobic slurs.

   The media was quick to report on the story and quick to take Smollet’s side. Most media outlets left out the word “allegedly” when talking about the events that took place. They talked about the assaulters wearing MAGA hats, a piece of information that was proven false after a video of the two men who allegedly assaulted Smollett shows that neither wore a hat. 

   Only weeks after Smollett reported his attack, investigators were beginning to find evidence that could prove his assault to have been orchestrated by himself. One of his assailants was his personal trainer and allegedly Smollett made a payment to the trainer and his brother to assault him. In September of 2020, Smollett publicly spoke for the first time about these accusations and said that law enforcement and the media were “trying to sell” an agenda by focusing on parts of the case that would pain him as a guilty man.

   If these claims prove to be true, then the media’s reporting of Smollett’s assault will only more evidently show how they were willing to skew a story and put false information out to spark controversy and anger.

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