I'm not saying Jussie Smollett should have gotten 10 years in prison.
If he had pleaded guilty, paid a big fine and got stuck with community service, I wouldn't have lost any sleep.
But what happened in Chicago was an absolute travesty of justice.
Axios is calling it "one of the biggest non-Trump stories of 2019." But like so much else in our culture, it is very much a Trump story.
It was no minor detail that the "Empire" actor claimed he was beaten up on the street by two thugs proclaiming the neighborhood "MAGA country." That, along with their supposed noose, was central to depicting the incident as an anti-black, anti-gay hate crime perpetrated by Trump zealots.
And it was all a lie, of course.
But now Smollett will never be prosecuted. He will never be held to account for how he traumatized his city and betrayed his supporters.
He doesn't even have to admit that he constructed a damnable lie.
The charges have suddenly, mysteriously, conveniently been dropped.
Rahm Emanuel is outraged, as is the city's police superintendent.
The mayor called it a "whitewash of justice" at a news conference, at one point so agitated that he demanded of Smollett, "How dare he?"
"You cannot have, because of a person's position, one set of rules apply to them and one set of rules apply to everybody else," Emanuel said, adding that the city's reputation was "dragged through the mud."
Smollett still insists he's innocent. That's the infuriating part.
"I've been truthful and consistent on every single level since Day One," he announced. "This has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my entire life."
Tell that to the Jamaican brothers he hired for $4,000 to stage the late-night attack. They've suddenly gone quiet.
The decision by the Cook County state's attorney not to pursue the indictment, which included charges of lying to police, did not exactly play well at home.
"It's an indefensible decision, a deal hashed out in secret, with — this is outrageous — Smollett not even required to take ownership of his apparent hoax." a Chicago Tribune editorial said. "Not even required to apologize for allegedly exploiting hate crime laws. And not even required to reimburse Chicago taxpayers for the enormous cost of this investigation."
And how did prosecutors justify this travesty? With a vague statement claiming that "we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case."
Imagine some working-class dude who pulled the same stunt. Of course he would have been prosecuted. The moral here is that another well-connected celebrity skates without so much as an expression of regret.
Other than forfeiting a $10,000 bond, Smollett — who police said faked the crime to try to get the Fox show to give him a raise — gets away with it.
Says National Review: "Rarely do we find ourselves nodding vigorously in agreement with Rahm Emanuel or David Axelrod, but both onetime Obama lieutenants expressed needful levels of disbelief and disgust at the surprise outcome of L'Affaire Jussie Smollett ...
"Smollett's staging was obviously intended to disparage his avowed political enemy Donald Trump and Trump supporters, and he even said on 'Good Morning America' that he believed his 'attackers' were motivated by his public anti-Trump stance. Sharing his priors about the deplorables, far too many Americans who should have known better believed Smollett's tall tale."
In the end, Smollett's alleged scam wasn't about the president. But it was very much about Trump country.