Now that the alleged crime that "Empire" star Jussie Smollett claims happened to him looks more and more like a fabricated hoax, his friends and allies have begun to either backtrack on their initial support, hold their condemnations, or double-down on their defense of the actor.
According to USA Today, Smollett has at least one prominent supporter still publicly holding out hope that police will eventually exonerate him of having committed a hoax hate crime: Brett Mahoney, Executive Producer of "Empire."
"I believe and stand by @JussieSmollett," Mahoney tweeted on Sunday night. "Keep your head up."
It appears that the "Empire" writing staff may agree with Mahoney, due to the fact his tweet of support was later shared on the "Empire" writers' official Twitter account.
When the alleged hate crime against Smollett first broke, Mahoney was just one of many Hollywood and political figures who accepted the actor's account at face-value, despite the lack of facts verifying his initial story.
"The attack on Jussie, because he is such a beloved member of our family, hurt us all very hard. Jussie is a proud, gay black man," he said. "I don’t know whether the cowards who attacked him were trying to beat the gay, the black or the pride out of him, but that’s impossible, because he’s strong. And so we’re happy that he is back at work."
Over the weekend, "social justice"-centric filmmaker Ava DuVernay ("A Wrinkle In Time") initially expressed reservations about Chicago P.D.'s claim that the investigation had shifted into whether or not Smollett paid off two Nigerian brothers to stage the attack.
"Despite the inconsistencies, I can’t blindly believe Chicago PD," she tweeted. "The department that covered up shooting Laquan McDonald over a dozen times? That operated an off-site torture facility? That one? I’ll wait. Whatever the outcome, this won’t stop me from believing others. It can’t."
After some blowback from her Twitter followers, DuVernay clarified that Smollett "might have lied," adding that she "never believes police on general principle."
"Yessir. I hear you. And agree," she replied. "I wrote (that there) are inconsistencies. He might have lied. He might be not have. I don’t know. But what I do know? I never believe police on general principle just ‘cause they say so. My experience, our history, makes it impossible for me to do so."
Other random trolls on Twitter have echoed DuVernay's sentiment by putting forth the conspiracy theory that the Chicago P.D. is trying to frame Smollett in the same way it was alleged that the L.A.P.D. tried to frame the previously alleged — and subsequently acquitted — murderer O.J. Simpson.
Speaking on his program "Politics Nation" over the weekend, Rev. Al Sharpton rejected the notion that the media trumped up Smollett's charge, while admitting that the actor should face tough penalties if he did stage the attack as alleged.
"I among many others, when hearing of the reports, said that the reports were horrific and we should come with all that we can come with in order for us to find out what happened and the guilty should suffer the maximum," Sharpton told viewers. "I still maintain that. And, if it is found that Smollett and the gentlemen did, in some way, perpetrate something that is not true, they ought to face accountability to the maximum."