Stelter on Smollett: "Rush To Judgment" By Activists, "Really Careful Reporting" By News Organizations

|

CNN's Brian Stelter said news organizations that covered the alleged hate crime perpetrated against actor Jussie Smollie conducted "really careful reporting" while it was the celebrity press, activists, and "Twitter people" who led the rush to judgment.

"There was a rush to judgment," Stelter said Monday on CNN. "I think it was mostly in the celebrity press and among activists and among Twitter people. I think it was really careful reporting by news organizations."

"But it all gets lumped in together at the end of the day," he lamented. "It all gets lumped in together in the minds of many people who now look at this and say what went wrong here? And obviously, at the end of the day, what went wrong is that he may have made it up and ultimately, that's his responsibility."





"But activists, actors, Hollywood celebrities, friends of Smollett, Democratic presidential candidates -- they all wanted to sound like they were doing the right thing, saying the right thing -- standing up for a victim," Stelter said of those who weighed in.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Was it a hate crime or a hoax? Law enforcement sources tell CNN the Chicago police now believe that "EMPIRE" actor Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate an attack on him. Smollett's attorneys deny that the actor played any role in his own attack.

So joining us now to talk about of this is Charles Blow. He's an opinion columnist for "The New York Times". And, Brian Stelter. He's CNN's chief media correspondent. Great to have both you here now.

Brian, I remember in the hours right after this happened --

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- that CNN -- that our bosses were advising to pump the brakes a little bit because there were some things already that didn't add up. I was, frankly, surprised how many people jumped on board to side with Jussie Smollett before there were photos, before there were --

STELTER: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- police statements -- before all that stuff.

And so, how do you think this all -- what was the trajectory of how this went wrong?

STELTER: Yes, the headline was so sensational and so disturbing.

It first came out on TMZ, not only that Smollett said he'd been attacked but that the attacker said this is MAGA country. Obviously, Chicago at two in the morning is not MAGA country, so that didn't make sense in the first place. Lots of parts of this story didn't make sense.

But activists, actors, Hollywood celebrities, friends of Smollett, Democratic presidential candidates -- they all wanted to sound like they were doing the right thing, saying the right thing -- standing up for a victim.

There's an inherent tension in this story between wanting and needing to believe victims and yet, knowing that people could take advantage of that. Taking advantage of the idea that it's important to believe victims. And that tension has been this story for weeks.

There was a rush to judgment. I think it was mostly in the celebrity press and among activists and among Twitter people. I think it was really careful reporting by news organizations.

But it all gets lumped in together at the end of the day. It all gets lumped in together in the minds of many people who now look at this and say what went wrong here? And obviously, at the end of the day, what went wrong is that he may have made it up and ultimately, that's his responsibility.

Comment
Show comments Hide Comments

Latest Political Videos

Video Archives