CORRECTION: An initial title of this article suggested that the actor himself politicized the nature of his attackers. Rather, the only ones confirmed to politicize the nature of his attackers are sources close to the actor.
On Tuesday morning, black, openly gay actor Jussie Smollett — best known for his work on the Fox show “Empire” — was horrifically assaulted in Chicago by two men carrying a noose and a possible “chemical substance.” The Boston Globe reports:
Smollett, 35, was walking on the 300th block of E. North Lower Water Street around 2 a.m. local time on Tuesday, “when two unknown offenders approached him and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him,” the Chicago Police Department said in a statement to The Washington Post. ‘”The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim.”
The police could not confirm the gender of the offenders nor identify the chemical substance.
Following the terrible attack, Smollett is now recovering and is in “good condition” at Northwestern Hospital.
The Daily Mail reports that the Chicago Police Department is investigating the case as possibly being racially charged or homophobic in nature. The crime is also being investigated as possibly being premeditated, as Smollett had received a letter, dated January 18, stating, “You will die black f*g.”
Some media outlets reporting on the assault, however, have tried to also politicize the attack and indirectly place the blame on some of President Trump’s supporters. TMZ has run with the headline, “JUSSIE SMOLLETT VICTIM OF HOMOPHOBIC ATTACK BY MAGA SUPPORTERS.” In the article, TMZ claims:
“Empire” star Jussie Smollett was brutally attacked by 2 men who beat him up, put his head in a noose and screamed, “This is MAGA country.”
Sources directly connected to Jussie tell TMZ, the actor arrived in Chicago from New York late Monday, and at around 2 AM he was hungry and went to a Subway. We’re told when shortly after he walked out on his way home, someone yelled, “Aren’t you that f***ot ‘Empire’ n*****?”
The 2 men – both white and wearing ski masks — viciously attacked Jussie as he fought back, but they beat him badly and fractured a rib. They put a rope around his neck, poured bleach on him and as they left they yelled, “This is MAGA country.”
But in their rush to politicize an indubitably horrific assault and thereby inflict blame upon some of President Trump’s supporters, some media outlets have gone well out over their skis. As Robby Soave of Reason notes, the Chicago Police Department has expressly disclaimed having any information about the assaulters’ race or political views:
Several media outlets referenced claims that appeared in TMZ’s coverage of this matter, most notably that the perpetrators were white and yelled “this is MAGA country,” as they attacked Smollett. But a spokesperson for the Chicago police denied having any information about the race and political views of the attackers.
“According to the victim, the offenders’ faces were concealed,” a police spokesperson told Reason. “We have no record indicating that [they shouted ‘MAGA’], we only have record of them shouting racial and homophobic slurs at him.”
Chicago police have also released a statement contradicting claims that Smollett identified his attackers’ race and heard them shout “MAGA.”
“We have no record of The MAGA Country comment,” said the police in a statement. “We have racial and homophobic comments documented.”
It seems that, in their rush to politicize a terrible tragedy, some media outlets have “reported” much more than the present on-the-ground fact situation would otherwise support.