Making the case that actor Jussie Smollett orchestrated a fake attack on himself, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Jackson said that, as a black man, “I know the racial divide that exists here.”
But after alleging that Smollett, who is black and gay, “took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Jackson added, “I’m left hanging my head and asking, ‘Why?’ ”
Good question. Why, indeed, would an actor reportedly making $1.8 million a year stoop so low and risk it all?
The short answer is greed; Smollett allegedly wanted a raise.
But assuming that Smollett is not completely off his rocker, there must be more to his thinking, and there is. The added element also explains much of the vicious, anything-goes turmoil roiling our nation: Smollett thought he could get away with it.
And why not? One look around America would tell him that blaming President Trump and his supporters for the worst things imaginable is the fastest way to become a celebrated victim and a hero to half the country.
And victimhood is making some people very, very rich.
Smollett could have correctly concluded that events don’t even have to be true to be solid gold. Enough people are willing to believe the worst because, hating Trump with every fiber of their being, they need the worst to be true.
The more serious the charge, the more they fantasize it will be the death knell of his presidency. That makes Trump haters easy prey for con men.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren played on their fantasies when she said the president “may not even be a free person” next year. Her words made headlines, not because she has any insider knowledge, but because her claim sent lefty hearts aflutter.
Warren, of course, is a professional con artist of long standing, so expect to see more sleight-of-hand as she seeks the Oval Office.
If police are correct, Smollett played his trick by scripting events designed to activate all the erogenous zones on the political and cultural left. His claim that his “attackers” made racist and anti-gay slurs, threatened to lynch him and declared Chicago “MAGA country,” was an immediate smash hit with his intended audience.
Overnight he became a household name as Hollywood and Democrats — excuse the repetition — embraced his story without a shred of doubt. See, see, they said, that’s Trump’s America for you.
Smollett played the Trump haters like a Stradivarius.
Their enthusiasm reflected their self-interest. Smollett’s story was tailored to fit all the corners of the narrative they’ve been selling since Trump came down the escalator in June 2015 to announce his candidacy. Smollett played the Trump haters like a Stradivarius.
He got bonus points for being the right kind of victim but the clumsy plot outlined by cops shows he lacks the gravitas of more experienced cons. Take Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director who is turning a disgraceful career-ending episode into a major pay day.
McCabe, after failing to bring down Trump, got fired for lying under oath — but now gets the star treatment on a book tour. What Trump-hating lefty wouldn’t want a piece of that action?
Perhaps Smollett fantasized he could get rich like McCabe or suddenly become a giant media star like James Comey. The former head of the FBI, Comey tarnished the bureau’s legacy for a generation, then painted himself as a victim of Trump and helped to spur the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.
For his efforts, which included a book and coming out of the closet as an anti-Trump partisan, Comey became a millionaire several times over.
Of course, Comey and McCabe didn’t exist in a vacuum. They were part of an administration that weaponized law enforcement and intelligence to boost their preferred candidate, Democrat Hillary Clinton, and destroy Trump.
Seeing how they basically got caught and still got rich, Smollett might have decided that, no matter what, he’d be rewarded, much as former top officials James Clapper and John Brennan got TV contracts after clearly abusing their official powers to play politics.
As for Clinton herself, she lost an election she should have won in a cakewalk — yet managed to launch the lie that Trump stole victory. Her lie remains an article of faith among deluded millions who believe it because they want it to be true.
But Smollett’s scheme would have made no sense unless he could count on the complete cooperation of one other player: the media. He would need them to swallow his story, then amplify it and repeat it a thousand times over.
Naturally, they did, because they, too, desperately wanted it to be true.
He hand-picked his interviewers, and played the role of his life — a defiant victim of Trump Nation. Smollett aimed to be so good and so appealing that he wouldn’t just get a raise, he’d be a mega-star and his career would take off like a rocket.
He might even have gotten a call for a starring role in Sunday’s Oscar telecast. Imagine the Hollywood elites, comfortable in their sneering disdain for Trump’s America, rising to applaud him as he appeared on stage as a stand-in for their America.
The world would watch movie stars cry real tears of admiration and sympathy. Smollett would bask in their salute, a bold, strong member of the resistance. Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching.
What could go wrong?