CNN’s Brian Stelter on Jussie Smollett: ‘We May Never Really Know What Happened’

Amy Entelis, Alisyn Camerota, John Berman, Kelly Wallace, Brian Stelter, and Dave Briggs attend CNN Heroes 2017 at the American Museum of Natural History on December 17, 2017 in New York City. 27437_016 (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for CNN)
Mike Coppola/Getty

CNN senior media reporter and Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter reacted to the news that all charges against Jussie Smollett were being dropped Tuesday by claiming that people “may never really know” what happened to Smollett that night.

“People don’t know what to believe, and we may never really know what happened on that street in Chicago,” Stelter said on air Tuesday.

When other social media users challenged Stelter for his claim, he doubled down.

“Were you there that night?” he asked one critic on Twitter. “Smollett’s camp says he was the victim of a hate crime. The police dispute that. There isn’t video of the alleged attack. Thus, we may never know what really happened.”

Jussie Smollett was arrested last month for allegedly faking a hate crime against himself. He was facing 16 felony counts. In a head-spinning turn of events, all charges were dropped against him by prosecutors Tuesday.

“Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped, and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him,” the Empire star’s lawyers said in a statement.

“Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment.”

Chicago police were indignant at the dropping of charges. Chicago Police Department superintendent Eddie Johnson was reportedly “furious,” and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also expressed frustration during a press conference Tuesday.

“Because of the judge’s decision, none of that evidence will never be made public. None of it,” he said. “This is, without a doubt, a whitewash of justice and sends a clear message that if you’re in a position of influence and power, you’ll get treated one way. Other people will be treated another way. There is no accountability then, in the system. It is wrong –, full stop.”

Smollett originally claimed that he was attacked in the middle of the night in downtown Chicago in January by two men who wore ski masks and beat him, put a rope around his neck, poured a chemical on him, called him racial and homophobic slurs, and yelled, “This is MAGA country!”

Chicago police later claimed that Smollett had allegedly organized the attack himself, with two Nigerian-American brothers, Abel and Ola Osundairo, carrying out the “attack.”

Footage of the brothers buying ski masks surfaced last month.

However, with the charges dropped, Smollett now wants to move on with his work on activism, telling reporters Tuesday, “make no mistake, I will always continue to fight for the justice, equality, and betterment of marginalized people everywhere.”

Follow Justin Caruso on Twitter @justincaruso2

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