In the wake of Chicago police sources indicating "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett may have orchestrated the alleged Jan. 29 attack upon himself, CNN's Alisyn Camerota noted Monday morning she was "surprised" at how many people believed Smollet's story at the outset.
She told CNN's Brian Stelter, "I remember in the hours right after this happened that CNN, that our bosses were advising to pump the brakes a little bit because there were things already that didn't add up. I was frankly surprised how many people jumped on board to side with Jussie Smollett before there were photos, before there were police statements, before all that stuff."
Stelter pointed his "rush to judgment" finger at "activists, actors, Hollywood celebrities, friends of Smollett, [and] Democratic presidential candidates" along with the "celebrity press" — but not at the mainstream news media, who he said did "really careful reporting."
'Really careful reporting'?
Maybe Camerota and Stelter should have a chat with their colleague, CNN's Brooke Baldwin.
Because on the day the alleged attack hit the news cycle, Baldwin was on air speaking to CNN's national correspondent Ryan Young in Chicago — and Baldwin uttered a few words that some just might say gave early credence to it all.
At the end of the segment — after Young indicated detectives were in the process of gathering information on the alleged attack that we've now learned has been called into serious question — Baldwin paused, shook her head ever so slightly, and announced, "This is America in 2019."
The same day, in another segment between the two, Young gave a monologue of sorts on the alleged attack:
"But this is kind of a shock. And we've seen, of course, the buzz on social media surrounding this case. But then when you think about the idea on top of that — the idea that racial slurs and maybe even some of the homophobic slurs being used toward him — you can see how serious this crime is right now. A lot of the people who work in this industry also live in this part of the town, so you can understand the concern even as we've been talking to people in this area. There's been a sharp reaction to this crime. Hopefully we'll learn more from police in the next few hours ... been giving them calls to figure out exactly what detectives have so far, maybe a vehicle description or some sort of build. Don't have any of that information so far, but it'll be interesting to see how this plays out."
To that Baldwin replied, "Absolutely despicable."
So, "this is America in 2019" and it's "absolutely despicable"?
Sure sounds a lot like we-know-exactly-what-happened language. And offered to help CNN viewers do what exactly? Make up their minds before the bulk of facts came in?
They said in a statement:
As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.
One of these purported suspects was Jussie's personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video. It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie's complicity.
Jussie and his attorney's anticipate being further updated by the Chicago Police Department on the status of the investigation and will continue to cooperate. At present time, Jussie and his attorney's have no inclination to respond to '"unnamed" sources inside the investigation, but will continue discussions through official channels.