'Washington Post' opinion writer and MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart said Monday people "want to believe" Jussie Smollett because it fit "a reality for a lot of people" since President Trump took office. Capehart said the "atmosphere of hate" around the country made Smollett's story believable.
"Well, I don't know what to make of all this," Capehart said on MSNBC. "When the news came out, a lot of people, myself included, were horrified."
"Just the circumstances and the way he told the story, and what he said happened to him sort of fit in with a -- not a narrative, but a reality for a lot of people in this country since President Trump was inaugurated, that there is an atmosphere of menace and an atmosphere of hate around the country that made it possible for people to either readily believe or want to believe Jussie Smollett. But on the other hand, at the same time, there were people who immediately thought something was fishy," he said.
"It was so over the top. January. Middle of the night, 2:30 in the morning. Ten degrees. And they recognized him on the street?" an incredulous Capehart said.
"There is real pain in this country. There is real fear in this country. And if it turns out that Smollett did, indeed, orchestrated this attack, paid the attackers, then he's done infinitely more damage to the African-American community, people of color, the LGBTQ community," the reporter told MSNBC. "All for what? Reportedly to save his own role in the show? Was it worth it? That's the question I would like to ask Jussie Smollett if it is proven that he orchestrated this attack."
Capehart concluded the media should "wait a hot minute" to digest news as it comes out before jumping to conclusions.
"One of the things that I saw on Twitter which is actually a good point is that someone said forgive me for not believing the Chicago Police Department because of what they did in the LaQuan McDonald case. And so there are a lot of moving pieces here and so, again, to Jonathan's point, let's all wait a hot minute to see," he said.