As reports continue to stream in about the investigation into “Empire” star Jussie Smollett’s alleged “hate crime” attack — which police say evidence increasingly suggests was “staged” by the actor in coordination with two brothers — #HateHoax has begun trending on Twitter, with users not only commenting on the Smollett case but also providing flashbacks to recent high-profile “hate crime” hoaxes.
Smollett’s case took a dramatic turn on Saturday when police revealed that the two brothers detained for questioning on Wednesday, who are Americans of Nigerian descent, were released Friday without charges because they were no longer “potential suspects” but, instead, were “fully cooperating” with authorities. That cooperation has included the two men telling police that Smollett allegedly paid them a total of $4,000 to stage the January 29 attack in a predetermined location. Smollett told the police and the press that he was the victim of a “racist” and “homophobic” attack by two Trump supporters who yelled, “n***er,” “f***ot,” and “This is MAGA country!” while beating him, pouring bleach on him, and putting a noose around his neck.
Smollett has since lawyered up and, since the bombshell reports Saturday, has thus far refused to go in for further questioning by the Chicago Police Department. On Monday, multiple outlets reported that sources close to the investigation say they were told Smollett may have orchestrated the attack because he was upset that a threatening letter allegedly sent to him did not get a “bigger reaction” from the media — a claim which, like many of the claims made so far about the case, police have not confirmed.
But while there are still a lot of questions to be answered and claims to be either confirmed or denied, backlash to the bizarre case has been gaining momentum. While the mainstream media that largely reported Smollett’s initial story unquestioningly has been playing damage control, social media users have taken to platforms like Twitter to weigh in on the potential “#HateHoax.” In a thread that has stirred up a lot of attention, one independent journalist has used the platform to publish an incomplete but still lengthy list of recent hate crime hoaxes that has gained traction online.
Below are a few examples from hundreds of responses online to what many now suspect to be another hoax. First up, a few tweets from two high-profile figures who couldn’t be further apart on the ideological spectrum: Donald Trump Jr., who has some fun calling out the left-leaning media and celebrities, and Alyssa Milano, a left-leaning celebrity who’s so disappointed by the news that she can’t bring herself to utter the name of “that man.”
“Shocked, I really thought MAGA folks (who are all over downtown Chicago) were waiting with a rope/bottle of bleach to ambush a righ guy at 2am in minus 4 degrees because those are conditions where all people go out for Subway rather than order Seamless. Seemed so real,” Trump Jr. wrote Sunday in one of a series of posts.
“If that man staged his own attack he is wrong in so many ways,” wrote a disappointed Milano Monday. “No one could be that hurtful? To stage this? Right? To f*** with all of us by playing into our weaknesses & make it even harder for victims to come forward?! No one could choose to be that hurtful? Right?! RIGHT?”
More from Trump Jr, including some retweets from conservative media:
A thread that is starting to gain attention in conservative media circles is independent journalist Andy Ngo’s ever-growing “Hate Hoax” list. A few examples from the thread, which he started over the weekend:
And here are some misc. reaction tweets from Twitter users under “#HateHoax“: