Almost everyone thinks Jussie Smollett was handed a Get Out Of Jail free card after prosecutors slapped him only with the $10,000 he paid in bail and 16 hours of community service, but let go the whole false reporting of a hate crime thing. Even while claiming they had an airtight case against him. Even while going on national television and claiming that evidence is clear, Smollett could be proven guilty in a court of law.
But his circle may be closing.
Smollett and his apparent friends in the State’s Attorney Office may not be off and running free and easy as they thought. There is, after all, a court of public opinion.
There’s also a higher law enforcement authority.
President Donald Trump tweeted: “FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our Nation!”
And it’s not like Smollett has scores of friends left to smooth out a Justice Department finding of prosecutorial office misconduct. He’s pretty much exhausted his public relations’ capital, it seems.
You know when you’re a black left-leaning celebrity and you’ve got CNN’s Don Lemon raising questions, you’re scraping the bottom of your public relations’ capital bucket.
“Don Lemon questions Jussie Smollett’s attorney: ‘Did someone very important’ make a call on his behalf?” ran one headline from The Grio.
The fact that Lemon even asked this is significant. It says, wow, this Smollett case is so suspicious even mainstream media types have to abandon their usual defensive maneuvers for their friends on the left.
It’s not just Lemon.
Sen. Kamala Harris told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, in a chat about the Smollett case, that she was “completely confused” about its outcome.
“There’s a sealed document, obviously,” Harris said. “I don’t know. I’m at a loss. … I don’t know.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made not just one, not just two, but several public statements in defense of city police, in defiance of Smollett’s continued expressions of innocence.
“You have the State’s Attorney’s Office saying he’s not exonerated, he actually did commit this hoax,” Emanuel said on ABC. “He’s saying he’s innocent, and his words aren’t true. They [Smollett and Cook County prosecutors] better get their story straight.”
Emanuel also dinged Smollett for “walking around with no sense of contrition, no sense of remorse,” despite the state’s attorney “saying he’s actually guilty of this hoax.”
The arrogance goes deeper.
” ‘Empire’ Writers Taunt Smollett Critics, Slam Chicago Journalists: ‘You Reported a Bunch of False Information,’ ” read one Mediaite headline.
But what goes around very often comes around. Smollett’s circle of defenders is getting very small. And now the feds are going to come in and take a second look, a more detailed look, at State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s decision to drop the charges in the face of her office’s supposed airtight findings?
The case is hardly closed. Perhaps justice will prevail after all.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.