MSNBC host Al Sharpton has never met a claim of racism he didn’t believe. When Jussie Smollett first claimed to have been attacked by two white men who recognized him as a star of “Empire” at 2 a.m. during a polar vortex in Chicago and yelled racial, homophobic, and pro-Trump slurs at him, Sharpton was all in.
“For Jussie, who’s not only a superb actor and singer but an activist who has fought against homophobia and racism and sexism, to be a victim is something that is totally unacceptable,” he told TMZ as soon as the attack was reported. “I challenge the Chicago law enforcement to do all within their power to find out those that are guilty and they should face the maximum penalty of law.”
Sharpton now says that Smollett should “face accountability to the maximum” if he did, indeed, perpetrate a hoax.
“I, among many others when hearing of the report, said that the reports were horrific and that we should come with all that we can come with in law enforcement to find out what happened and the guilty should suffer the maximum,” Sharpton said Sunday night during his MSNBC program, “Politics Nation,” according to Page Six. Notice how he left out that he immediately called Smollett a “victim” even though the reported facts of the crime didn’t make sense even initially. Still, Sharpton pressed on.
“I still maintain that,” Sharpton said. “And if it is that Smollett and these gentlemen did in some way perpetuate something that is not true, they ought to face accountability to the maximum.”
Yes, Smollett absolutely should face accountability if reports that the whole thing was a hoax turn out to be true. He probably won’t, however, as those who perpetrate the most famous hoaxes rarely, if ever, face consequences.
Sharpton himself has escaped consequences for the role he played in one of the most famous rape and race hoaxes in modern American history.
In 1987, teenager Tawana Brawley claimed she was raped by a group of white men who wrote racial slurs on her body, smeared her with feces and wrapped her in a plastic bag. Sharpton jumped to her defense, and the case not only inflamed racial tensions in the U.S., but also launched his career as a prominent race-baiter.
Brawley named several prominent men as her attackers — including a former assistant district attorney — and while they suffered greatly, she only started paying defamation damages six years ago after her employer was ordered to garnish her wages.
As for Sharpton, he was also ordered to pay $65,000 in defamation damages, but the money was paid back by his supporters, after he refused to pay for years.
So, in summary: How has Sharpton “faced accountability” for his actions in perpetrating a race and rape hoax? He has his own show on MSNBC, is still asked for comment on issues of race, and had his friends pay off the debts he accrued from perpetrating a hoax.
Chicago police seem willing to hold Smollett accountable for a hoax. Maybe his friends will take the hit for him, like Sharpton’s did. Or maybe he’ll be forgiven because even though he may have lied, he lied about the right people and himself falls into the right categories of intersectional victimhood.