MSNBC bashes Jussie Smollett’s guilty verdict as the “crowning jewel” of the Right, a verdict that empowers Trump and his minions

December 10, 2021 • 12:15 pm

I’ve heard of the Right bashing MSNBC as  the Left-wing equivalent of Breitbart, but I never read or watch MSNBC, so I had no opinion. But my attention was called this morning to two articles on MSNBC that criticize the Smollett verdict—or rather, wring their hands over it—because, say the writers, it gives succor to the right and to Donald Trump and his supporters. And it will hurt members of the LBGTQ community as well, as people won’t believe any claims of gender-based hate crime.

I couldn’t believe this line of thought, but you could read the articles below.  My take on the verdict is that justice was done, that there wasn’t going to be much political fallout except for racists being glad that a black man was convicted, and that, overall, the verdict was not only just, but useful in deterring future hoaxers from trying the same thing. There’s a penalty if you get caught. I was satisfied that justice was done.

But the first article, below, blames the guilty verdict on a proposed future in which LGBTQ people will not be believed when they report real hate crimes. (Smollett is gay.) That’s really messed up: what will make people less likely to believe the claims of victims is HOAX CLAIMS by LGBTQ people: that is, what Smollett did, not what the jury did. What planet does Zach Stafford live on?

Click to read:

First Stafford dismisses any importance of the actual truth of what Smollett claimed, or of the verdict’s affirmation that he lied (my emphasis):

The Jussie Smollett saga may now be technically over after a Chicago jury found the actor guilty Thursday of five of the six counts he faced, but its impact will be — and has already been — felt for years to come. It doesn’t matter if the actor, who starred on “Empire,” really was beaten up by people yelling “This is MAGA country!” and is wrongly being punished or if he did stage an elaborate hoax, as the jury decided he did by finding him guilty of five counts of disorderly conduct.

No, this is what matters:

Instead, the seemingly never-ending questions over the almost three years regarding the truthfulness of his account means the indisputable victims of hate crimes will now carry an even heavier burden of suspicion.

The only winners found as the dust settles are the members of the right who have declared themselves America’s real victims of hate and discrimination — people who have strategically made the Smollett case their go-to example for how the left operates and how it wrongly makes villains out of Donald Trump supporters.

Meaning Smollett’s guilty verdict is their new crowning jewel as our culture wars rage on.

(I believe he means “crown jewel”.)

For crying out loud! Justice was done in this case, and all Stafford worries about is whether the Right will use the verdict to support their crusade against LGBTQ rights? But you know what? The Right will use what they can use, and beefing that Smollett was found guilty will not change that. Similarly, the Left will use what the Left can use, as it did with Smollett’s initial claims. Does Stafford wish he’d been found innocent, even though a ton of evidence said that he was guilty?

Stafford first revealed how the Left buttressed Smollett, as this tweet from Bari Weiss shows. Yes, people weighed in before the fact, jumping to conclusions. But there was no trial, so all I thought was that his story sounded fishy and if he were tried, he’d likely be convicted. As a scientist, one withholds judgment until evidence starts appearing.

Then Stafford gets distraught because as the hoax began to be uncovered, Trump and his son went on social media talking about the flaws of the media, “fake news”, and mocking the “MAGA hat wearing” that was part of Smollett’s claims.

Here’s how Stafford winds up, and I’m not sure what he’s trying to say.

We couldn’t help but cover the story of a Black, gay celebrity who said he’d been attacked by Trump supporters. This wasn’t just because it was a story involving a famous member of the community we covered, but also because for many of us who had been reporting on anti-LGBTQ crimes for years, we believed his case might help shine a light on the fact that LGBTQ folks — especially trans people — were dying at historic rates in the streets. Smollett claimed to have been attacked in those same streets.

Since journalists began accurately reporting trans homicides in the early 2010s, we have consistently seen a rise in anti-LGBTQ violence, with 2021 being the deadliest year on record, specifically for trans people. Black people in this country, regardless of their sexuality, also find themselves over-represented in FBI data documenting hate crimes in the U.S. each year.

With this guilty verdict, it’s really those people who lost — not just Smollett — with the winners being people who are now more emboldened in demanding even more from victims before receiving justice. Sure, Smollett may have lied — or at least was found guilty of it. But statistically most people who report these cases do not lie and are rarely ever believed.

What is so important for us to do in this moment, as we look to what’s next, is to ensure work is done to stop the epidemic of hate facing folks who look like Smollett. Trump supporters are not being subjected to hate crimes for supporting Trump on any level — full stop.

Nor are Biden supporters being subjected to hate crimes for supporting Biden on any level—full stop.

Is Stafford implying that the verdict should have been “not guilty”, thus helping all the true victims of LGBTQ hate crimes down the line? Or is he just bewailing the fact that it will be harder to take those claims seriously? If the latter, then he should be blaming Smollett,  There is no reason to drag the verdict itself into the fight for LGBTQ rights, which is a good fight.  If Stafford is saying that he wished, in the face of the evidence, that the jury should have acquitted Smollett (perhaps for the greater good, which is NOT a reason for a verdict), then god help him.

This piece by Ja’han jones is too slight to have been published, but there is a telling bit at the end. Click to read:

The last bit:

Smollett held throughout the trial that the incident was not a hoax.

Nonetheless, the strange, seemingly ever-changing details in the case have provided nearly three years’ worth of material for comedians and online commentators. Some of it has been quite funny, in fact.

Even more comical, in my view, was the predictable conservative outrage over Smollett’s allegations. Conservatives took to social media in 2019 to express outrage over the dropped charges. How dare someone make such a heinous claim about followers of their dear leader, they screeched. Violent, masked white guys who shout Trump slogans and use chemical agents to attack victims?

Many on the right shamed those of us who knew such a claim was totally plausible — and then the Jan. 6 insurrection happened.

Well, one could say that it was equally funny to see the credulous Left accept such a dubious story.  If Jones thought that Smollett’s story was “totally plausible”, he must have been smoking something. Of course I wouldn’t have thought that the January insurrection was plausible, either, but there are plenty of readers here who either thought it possible or were not surprised when it did happen.

But all this is what we Jews call “pilpul”:  meaningless and endless debate about matters of little consequence. Both writers are trying to make political hay out of a verdict that was just and, in fact, will probably deter hate crimes if it has any effect at all.

Happy Friday!

34 thoughts on “MSNBC bashes Jussie Smollett’s guilty verdict as the “crowning jewel” of the Right, a verdict that empowers Trump and his minions

  1. What Stafford is guilty of is taking an event that happened in Chicago and making it into a political event between the left and right. He is being stupid and reactionary over an odd but fairly simple case of fake assault. It the guy had not been black and not gay what would he have to say. Maybe nothing? What Stafford is is not fit to be a journalist in the first place.

  2. Stafford’s opinion piece is almost as absurd as the Smollett hoax. If there’s any impact on whether true victims of hate crimes will come forward (which seems a rather dubious claim), then blame Smollett himself. He had his day in court, and the jury found him guilty.

  3. Yes, Stafford should really have said what the correct outcome, in his mind, should have been. Given all that is happening with crime in major cities, including Chicago, it hardly helps to have celebrities faking crimes for attention.

  4. The fact that it was such a “dubious story” mattered not at all to those public figures (not only politicians, but celebrities and entertainers aplenty) who wanted to believe Jussie’s fabricated narrative because it fitted perfectly into their favored catechism of “wokeism”. True believers in such a cult care nothing for facts, evidence, logic, or reasoned debate, but only for whatever can be wielded as a weapon in an ideological/soteriological battle of the “saved” against the “evil-doers.”

    1. You don’t actually think that MOST, or even a significant percentage, of reported hate crimes against blacks, Jews, Muslims, gays, etc. are fake, do you? Assuming that the overwhelming majority of reported hate crimes actually happened, then — as a matter of probability — isn’t it perfectly reasonable for “politicians,” “celebrities,” “entertainers,” and the rest of to provisionally presume that the purported victim is telling the truth than to presume that he or she lying — at least until credible evidence to the contrary comes to light (as eventually happened in Mr. Smollett’s case). I’m just askin’ . . . .

      1. You don’t actually think . . .?

        Since you ask, albeit rhetorically…
        And No, I don’t grant your “assuming . . .” That’s a classic example of the logical fallacy of begging the question.

        I’m not talking about cross-burnings, graffiti, tombstone desecration, social-media posts, stuff not directed at a individual person. (Even some of them are hoaxes, though, like the West Point affair.) If someone is arrested in the act of issuing a threat or committing violence that appears to be racially (etc.) motivated against actual people, then I’ll grant the provisional case. Duh. If the initial story includes corroborating eye-witness reports, that helps, too. But I don’t have to “just believe” anything that doesn’t affect me. (I do have to believe in Defensive Driving because not everyone believes in stop lights.)

        But when a schoolgirl tells the police that someone pulled her hijab off at a bus stop and tried to cut her hair — and that’s all we have to the “report” — then No, I don’t provisionally assume that the purported victim is telling the truth. And she wasn’t. Blathering on about it before the facts are in just makes the chattering classes look foolish…although the world they live in seems to protect them from consequences. Well, it could have happened, in this hateful society that so many people want to move to so they can be abused by it.

        Unless we have skin in the game as adjudicators, there is really no reason why we should form snap opinions on the truth of these stories anyway. If the girl at the bus stop says she couldn’t hand in her homework because she spent the morning at the police station, then I as her teacher have to decide whether to just accept her story or suspect that it’s a variation on the “dog ate my homework” story. But none of the rest of us have to. We’re just spectators. Why not suspend judgement on every story like this until the facts are in?

        Likewise there is no reason why I should believe the story of any person who alleges sexual assault, nor should I believe the defence of the alleged assailant, which we’re not going to hear anyway unless the case goes to trial. “I believe you” is here just patter, an expression of friendship, not of actual cognitive belief. If both assailant and victim were friends of yours, you’d have to tell them both (not in each other’s hearing, of course) that you believed each of them. And since only the defendant faces an enormous legal bill, friendship would oblige you to donate to his defence fund even if you thought the complainant’s story sounded plausible. But you still wouldn’t want to be alone with either of them, for asymmetric reasons. Because back to first principles, you can’t cognitively believe either of them.

        Your post implies to me (“I’m just askin’ . . .”) that you see credulity as a kind of litmus test for anti-racism or other compelled virtues of anti-group-ism. I’m not buying.

    2. But Stafford’s position is akin to Christians circling the wagons around and protecting obnoxious figures like adulterers Trump or Falwell because Christian voters feel it’s more beneficial to their long-term goals to have even poor stewards of faith like Trump in a political position to advance Christian policies than to have nobody at all on their side in those positions–regardless of the truth about their respective character flaws.

      Without doubt Christians are ALWAYS the biggest hypocrites since by definition their moral standards are always the most severe…yet in the end they compromise the most by loyally supporting moral reprobates like Trump.

  5. In the wake of the controversy over the media’s interpretation of the Rittenhouse trial, when I heard the verdict on the Smollet case my first thought was how the opinion pieces that came out we’re going to handle it. Most people seem to have come to an agreement on the fact that this incident was a hoax.

    Most hardline ideological positions have a strange kind of consistency to them because it is usually maintained that facts in and of themselves tell us nothing about the world, it is only when looked at through the proper lens that they become meaningful. Whether that lens is fundamentalist Christianity or progressivism understanding the meta-narrative is what matters. To people looking at this case through the progressive lens it is not the actual facts of the care that matters it is what this case tells us about society. It is reminiscent of the Tawana Brawley case where when it also became apparent this was a hoax, the narrative switched to what was wrong in Tawana’s life and the society where Tawana felt she had to make up this story. Unfortunately as is often want to happen the lens people view things through affects what actual facts they choose to believe or not believe.

    I think there is a deeper problem here that is only going to increase in the future as it demonstrates that their are multiple groups in our society who simply have different interpretations of reality from each other. Just as the country was under the sway of conservative Christianity and societies norms and laws reflected that for 200 years, we are heading toward a new religious group working to install their ideology as their societal norm.

  6. It’s people who really HAVE been victims of attacks due to race or sexual orientation who should be angriest at Smollett, and not at the jury or the system or anything else in this case. His absurd hoax cheapens THEIR troubles, and makes it harder for people who really have been victims of real violence to make themselves heard and believed. This might as well have BEEN a sabotage event by some racist, homophobic conspiracy, but one carried out by Smollett, for HIS actions are what has harmed the black and LGBTQ+ community, if anything has.

  7. It doesn’t matter if the actor, who starred on “Empire,” really was beaten up by people yelling “This is MAGA country!” and is wrongly being punished or if he did stage an elaborate hoax… the indisputable victims of hate crimes will now carry an even heavier burden of suspicion.

    If what people take from this is that the verdict was wrong, rather than correct but inconvenient, then it’s a very big deal indeed. I remember when a similar incident happened a while back, when a young black woman staged an attack by white supremacists which involved iirc being stuck in a barrel. There were those even then who argued that it was True even if it didn’t happen, meaning not that it could have happened, but that it happened in the most important sense, and was a valid example.

  8. MSNBC is following a classic Stalinist era tactic when you can’t deny the truth of something you simply accuse the other side of exploiting the travesty or tragedy. Also known as “accuse the accuser.” But the Right will aggressively exploit the case and we won’t get anywhere.

  9. If you think what Jussie Smollett did is stupid, get a load of this story. Evidently, a young lady carved a “B” on her own face and then claimed an Obama supporter had done it. This was back in 2008. She made one crucial mistake. The “B” was backwards, suggesting she had done it to herself using a mirror. Since she survived the ordeal, I guess she didn’t qualify for a Darwin award. Still, she deserves an honorable mention.

    1. Remember Morton Downey Jr. did the same thing when his fame was declining. He said he was attacked by skinheads in a bathroom who drew a swastika on his face, but it was drawn on backwards like if he was looking in a mirror.

  10. “I can’t believe he said, “Gay and trans people dying at historic rates.” Hey Stafford, remember the 1980s? There was something called AIDS back then that killed a lot of gay people. You might want to research that. Also, the homicide rate for trans people isn’t significantly different than for non-trans people.

    1. The point is that there are lots of hate crimes against people who are gay or trans. There are elevated rates of depression and suicide among them. There probably aren’t many people who are in those categories who aren’t at least traumatized.

  11. The whole thing, at least the reactions to it, just typify today’s climate in so many ways.

    It has been noted that when a person on the right commits some offense, the story is reasonably reported in terms of the character of the offender and the wrongs done to the victims.
    When the offender is on the left, the story is about how the right will react.

    Also, a fake hate crime is a hate crime. It is designed to elicit a reaction against the group falsely accused of the act. Somebody is going to believe it was authentic, and take some revenge.
    It is an effort to incite racial violence.

    In Smollett’s defense, it is reasonable to assume that his worldview was shaped by news sources that led him to the belief that such attacks are fairly common, and that roving lynch mobs in maga hats roam the country looking for victims, even in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago.
    Even on this forum, it is not uncommon for people to express views that give the impression that they actually believe that rampant racism is the norm, especially out here in flyover country.
    But believing that is just as absurd as the fundamentalists believing that community members who don’t attend church are actually in league with Satan and obsessed with corrupting the souls of the faithful. Of course, those neighbors don’t care about anyone’s soul, and don’t spend very much time thinking about whether God or Satan even exist. It is just not a topic of interest to most people trying to live their lives.

    I am back in Llano, which even Dr. Coyne found “chilling” because of the visual support of Trump and conservatism in general. But the truth is that LGBT people are immeasurable safer here than in Chicago. Not just safe from physical attack, but from anyone saying anything cross or rude to them. Of course there are some church people who probably disapprove of some of their choices, but they would never say anything.
    From the perspective here, most folks are genuinely confused at being portrayed as racist extremists, since none of them ever say or do anything racist, and would not support or condone such behavior in others.
    Of course, I use racist in the traditional sense, where a racist believes that this or that race is superior or inferior, or should be treated differently because of their heritage.

    I guess I wandered from my point, which I suppose is that Smollett likely lived in a political and ideological bubble where he was unlikely to see how absurd his story was. But that whole worldview is fabricated and imaginary.

    1. As a Chicagoan, my first thought on Smollet was “yes, it could have happened.” My disbelief centered on how little damage was done by the assailants.

      1. Yes, thanks for reminding me of this. It had the smell of something not quite right. I think you’ve put your finger on it. Perhaps another “tell” was that Smollett seemed overly eager to get his story out. He didn’t have the typical victim’s demeanor.

      2. I obviously have to defer to those who live in Chicago on what sort of incidents seem normal there.
        It surprises me that a resident there would think it plausible that groups of MAGA extremists would wander the streets there, looking for gay Black folks to attack.

        I prefer data and statistics on such things, but this is one area where there seems to be reporting bias. As an example of that, a man was arrested recently in Palm beach for the stabbing murder of a young boy. The suspect specifically attacked the boy because he was White, as revenge for the Tuskeegee experiments. This according to the suspect’s statements. When being booked into jail, he attacked a deputy and called him a “White devil”.
        The police chief there stated that there was no known motive, and that the stabbing was the result of a “chance encounter”. So that one does not go down as racially motivated.

        Apparently, Chicago police are mystified as to the reason Woom Sing Tse was shot multiple times by Alphonso Joyner as well, although I suppose it could be some sort of hired assassination. Even if it is not found to be a hit job, I am confident that it will not go into the “hate crime” stats.

  12. So the same people who criticised the Rittenhouse jury for not locking up the accused are now doing the same to the Smollett jury for convicting the perpetrator. Do these people have no respect for the rule of law?

    1. No, but that is the point. Their narrative is that juries across America in 2021, are essentially the same as juries in the American South were in the 1880’s. They aren’t vehicles for getting at truth, they are vehicles for extending white supremacist policies. If you buy into their ideology seeing certain jury verdicts as necessary for political aims makes perfect sense. It is simply highly doubtful that their analysis of the narrative at play is correct.

      1. So in which of those trials, Rittenhouse or Smollett, did the jury reach the wrong conclusion, in your opinion? Both of them seemed reasonable to me considering the law. That doesn’t mean there aren’t objectionable things surrounding them. Juries are asked to judge cases based on the law. Judging the laws themselves is not part of their agenda.

        1. Fron what I know of both cases I think both of the verdicts were correct. For that matter I think the Ahmaud Arbery verdict was correct too. My point is for the people who disagree with the verdicts there are other considerations they are viewing as more important than whether the cases for certain narrow legal definitions.

          It the Rittenhouse case they were convinced that he wa a white supremacist who desperately wanted to kill protestors. The only fact that seemed to matter to them was a picture he took with the Proud Boys which would allegedly prove that point. In the Smollet case they believe a gay black man is simply never going to be believed period so a trial is illegitimate from the start.

          The problem as a I stated in another post is people don’t see how the adoption of worldview thinking simply colors their entire interpretation of facts and can lead to justifying anything. If all that matters is advancing the Glorious Revolution than the Stalinist show trials make sense. If all that matters is overturning white supremacy then it is easy to see why people want trials to stop being about facts and legal procedures and start to be about political ends.

    2. If the law can be used to further their political goals, then they support the law.
      Honestly, these people really scare me. It seems like questions of right or wrong, truth or falsehood, even basic morality are of no concern to them at all.
      There is that which furthers their goals, and that which does not.

      If you ever find that such people have any power over you, you are likely in for some suffering.

  13. with 2021 being the deadliest year on record, specifically for trans people.

    According to the numbers from “Human Rights Campaign” (trans activist org), trans people have a lower murder rate than the general population (about 1/2, IIRC – note that they don’t give a rate, but they provide #trans=1.4M and #murders=50), and almost all the murdered “trans people” are young black males working as prostitutes – check out their lists of deaths. Non-trans young black men have a murder rate, IIRC, about 500 times higher than “trans people”.

  14. /’2021 being the deadliest year on record, especially for trans people/

    Votes have consequences. If you don’t like what happened in 2021, don’t vote Democrat again.

  15. So liberals are terrified and angry about the Supreme Court? I’ve got something even scarier. It is scary how people who are not on a jury make a judgement about guilt or innocence before there is a trial or any form of due process. So liberals prejudged Lyle Rittenhouse to be guilty and Smollett to be innocent. This is more than ignorance. It indicates pervasive bias against any white on trial and for any black on trial. Damn the evidence, liberal Americans say. If this doesn’t scare all of you, nothing will. Note that Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, AOC, Kamala Harris and others publicly made their own a priori judgment that Smollett was innocent. You know that truth, facts and evidence have been thrown out the window….and not by the Supreme Court but by liberals. That’s even scarier. Anyone who votes for Democrats in the next presidential election is voting for legalized lies and fraud. The whole due process and trial by jury would be thrown to the winds if we allow racial bias to predominate.

    1. When people who are not on a jury claim that someone is innocent or guilty, it is simply called an opinion. Those having such opinions know that they don’t count for anything in the legal system and, therefore, they can feel comfortable airing that opinion without consequence. As far as those that say “damn the evidence”, who says this and who exactly are they talking to? That’s certainly not an official Democrat position and I doubt very much anyone would run on such a policy. You are giving us fake news.

  16. Stafford is just prioritizing tribal loyalty over and above the truth itself. This “ends justifies the means” approach is scary because it means that when liberals like Stafford hold power, they are most preoccupied with protecting their political status than with meteing out justice and equitable policy for the benefit of all.

  17. Great essay. This is spot on correct. But Stafford’s position is akin to Christians circling the wagons around and protecting obnoxious figures like adulterers Trump or Falwell because Christian voters feel it’s more beneficial to their long-term goals to have even poor stewards of faith like Trump in a political position to advance Christian policies than to have nobody at all on their side in those positions–regardless of the truth about their respective character flaws.

    Without doubt Christians are ALWAYS the biggest hypocrites since by definition their moral standards are always the most severe…yet in the end they compromise the most by loyally supporting moral reprobates like Trump.

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