CNN, MSNBC virtually ignore new Jussie Smollett indictments, offer zero primetime coverage

CNN and MSNBC offered little to no coverage of the latest indictments made against former "Empire" star Jussie Smollett.

Smollett, who received plenty of media attention when he came forward last year with claims that he was assaulted by two "Make America Great Again" hat-wearing Trump supporters in Chicago, has been given very little attention by the liberal cable news networks since Chicago investigators suspected the actor had made up the racially and homophobic-inspired attack.

Smollett was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police about his claims of a racist and homophobic attack against him in January 2019. CNN dedicated just over two minutes of coverage to the indictment Wednesday morning, once during a brief segment on "CNN Newsroom" and a 15-second blurb toward the end of the 4 a.m. hour.

Meanwhile, MSNBC did not cover the six new counts against him at all.

CNN and MSNBC offered little to no coverage to the latest indictments made against former "Empire" star Jussie Smollett.  (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)

CNN and MSNBC offered little to no coverage to the latest indictments made against former "Empire" star Jussie Smollett.  (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)

Both CNN and MSNBC offered complete coverage of the controversy surrounding President Trump's outrage toward the sentencing of his former associate Roger Stone.

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Fox News covered the Smollett developments throughout the day, including in primetime during "Tucker Carlson Tonight."

Smollett was indicted by a grand jury on six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police about his claims of a racist and homophobic attack against him in January 2019, a special prosecutor said Tuesday.

Special prosecutor Dan Webb issued a statement announcing the indictment against the 37-year-old actor.

Smollett's attorney, Tina Glandian, said in a statement on Tuesday: "This indictment raises serious questions about the integrity of the investigation that led to the renewed charges against Mr. Smollett, not the least of which is the use of the same CPD detectives who were part of the original investigation into the attack on Mr. Smollett to conduct the current investigation, despite Mr. Smollett's pending civil claims against the City of Chicago and CPD officers for malicious prosecution. And one of the two witnesses who testified before the grand jury is the very same detective Mr. Smollett is currently suing for his role in the initial prosecution of him."

The statement continued: "After more than five months of investigation, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has not found any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever related to the dismissal of the charges against Mr. Smollett.  Rather, the charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence.  The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State's Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice."

Smollett, who is black and gay, originally was charged last year with disorderly conduct for allegedly staging the attack and lying about it to investigators. The charges were dropped in March 2019 with little explanation, angering police officials and then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Cook County Judge Michael Toomin in August appointed Webb, a former U.S. attorney, as a special prosecutor to look into why the charges were dropped. Webb was also charged with looking into whether Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx's calls with a Smollett relative and an ex-aide of former first lady Michelle Obama unduly influenced the decision to drop charges. Foxx recused herself from the case but continued to weigh in.

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On Tuesday, Foxx's campaign for reelection said in a statement: "The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office charged Jussie Smollett with multiple counts, and today the Special Prosecutor did the same. What’s questionable here is the James Comey-like timing of that charging decision, just 35 days before an election, which can only be interpreted as the further politicization of the justice system, something voters in the era of Donald Trump should consider offensive."

In January 2019, Smollett told police he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home from a Chicago Subway sandwich shop at approximately 2 a.m. The actor alleged that the masked men taunted him with homophobic and racial slurs, beat him and looped a noose around his neck before fleeing.

He said his attackers, at least one of whom he said was white, told him he was in "MAGA country" — a reference to President Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again."

In February 2019, police determined that Smollett's masked attackers were brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo, who trained Smollett and worked with him on "Empire." Investigators also identified the brothers as those on surveillance video buying the rope that reportedly was hung around the actor's neck during the alleged attack.

After an intense investigation, police said they determined Smollett staged the entire episode with the help of two brothers, whom he paid to take part in the hoax assault, in an elaborate effort to drum up publicity for his middling career. After prosecutors dropped the case in March, Smollett maintained his innocence but agreed to let officials keep a $10,000 bail.

He then was charged with filing a false police report, but Foxx's office dropped the charges a few weeks later.

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In a statement on Tuesday, the Osundairo brothers' attorney Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez, said: "The Osundairo brothers are aware of the new charges brought against Jussie Smollett today by the grand jury. As stated before, they are fully committed to the public knowing the truth about what occurred on January 29, 2019. The Osundairo brothers will continue to cooperate with that process and they thank the Special Prosecutor’s office for their tireless work in seeing that justice was administered."

Fox News' Brian Flood and Matt Finn and The Associated Press contributed to this report.