TMZ broke this story of a hate crime committed by white offenders. Now TMZ is breaking it back.

3 Things You Won’t See With the Breaking News in the Jussie Smollett MAGA Hate Crime Case in Chicago

Context. History. Basic Facts. ALSO: Contrition from the Media or Those Promoting False Narratives for the Past Two Weeks

David Shuey
9 min readFeb 15, 2019


2/16/19 UPDATE: The two Nigerian brothers pictured above who intriguingly do know Jussie Smollett have been released by Chicago police on Friday. I did mention in my post that they “may” be the suspects. This is an unfolding story (see Twitter hashtag #JussieSmollett), but all points I wrote below remain relevant and accurate. From TMZ who broke the story January 29:

Chicago PD says, “Due to new evidence as a result of today’s interrogations, the individuals questioned by police in the ‘Empire’ case have now been released without charging.” Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi added that detectives have “additional investigative work to complete.”

For the third time in 2019, a mainstream media narrative of right-wing hate in America is being turned on it’s head.

First it was Jazmine Barnes in Texas, a young black girl killed not by a white racist but by black criminals.

Then it was the MAGA hat wearing Covington kids, who were clearly more victims than perpetrators of hate.

Now in my hometown in Chicago, a case I’ve been following — as have many others on several sides of the ideological spectrum — is turning a significant corner. It concerns the supposed homophobic and racist hate crime committed against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett at the hands of offenders yelling “This is MAGA country” along with the N-word, and placing a rope around his neck. What was supposed to be two suspects more closely aligned with President Trump may instead be Nigerian and co-workers with Smollett on his Chicago-based TV show. It’s also likely Smollett himself was misleading a sympathetic and gullible public all along.

UPDATED Feb 18, 2019: Altogether, millions of Tweets promoted the narrative of a hate crime or lynching taking place against Jussie Smollett. The list includes Democratic presidential hopefuls Corey Booker, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Joe Biden, as well as congressional House leader Nancy Pelosi and DNC celebrity Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Don’t be expecting the Tweets of “I was wrong,” especially not from the Ava Duvarneys of the world — or the Al Sharptons. Journalist Andy Ngo, a gay Asian immigrant himself, has written an exhaustive thread of Tweets of individuals who pushed this incorrect story. On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, millions watched “Juno” actress Ellen Page tear up and say Republicans are directly responsible for Smollett’s attack, “If you are in a position of power and you hate people and you wanna cause suffering to them, you go through the trouble, you spend your career trying to cause suffering, what do you think is going to happen? Kids are going to be abused and they’re going to kill themselves and people are going to be beaten on the street.” Even if Smollett was attacked by a white person spouting “This is MAGA country,” that incident would not be emblematic of a greater truth about Trump’s America and hate. The fact of the matter is: Gay men are disproportionately beaten by blacks and Latinos, not Trump voters. ADDITIONAL UPDATE & EXCERPT BELOW from an important and exhaustive 21st century encyclopedia on race that shows African Americans are represented at higher rates as hate crime offenders.

Before the embers start ablaze as right-wing media and far-right voices opportunistically create a “we told you so” story of their own, I thought I’d add a 1–2–3 list of what you won’t see in most mainstream reporting. I hate to virtue signal my bias, but this is coming from a writer who’s never voted Republican in his life. However, I’m increasingly disgusted by the opportunism from sectors of the left who overlook facts and context when it comes to hate crimes and violence in the United States. In fact, I think these factually inaccurate story-lines factored heavily in the election of Donald Trump.

The reality is: Few people know that white folks, who are majority Republican voters, are under-represented as hate crime offenders. The dominant myth is that hate crime incidents are exploding due to emboldened angry white men. Reliable sources show that belief is wrong, and it’s actually black people who are disproportionately committing hate crimes, being identified by victims, and being caught. From the exhaustive library of knowledge on race in America published in 2014 titled “Race and Racism in the United States: An Encyclopedia of the American Mosaic,” a little known fact is highlighted on page 313:

“Since 1997, as part of this NCVS [National Crime Victimization Survey], the BJS and the FBI have been collecting data about hate crimes. These are the first significant data on hate crimes broken down by race available in the United States, and so the NCVS has been important both in terms of research and public policy in regard to these crimes. The numbers found in this survey have forced both academia and lawmakers to take note of hate crimes as a serious social problem. The study has also revealed such surprising findings as African Americans being disproportionately represented among those charged with hate crimes, particularly against whites.”

Basically, the accurate narrative isn’t what is being peddled by media and political elites. In doing so, they join the extreme right in dividing America by race.

1. You won’t see the race angle played up because the two perpetrators are black.

As of 1:57 p.m. on February 15, 2019, I haven’t seen images of the two black Nigerian suspects on leading stories. Not at CNN, ABC (local) , CBS (local), or Chicago Tribune. Contrast this with the MAGA hat-wearing Covington kids images spread far and wide in January, and they didn’t commit any crime at all.

Does left-leaning media purposely omit photos highlighting the suspects under police custody? It appears so. Of course, the right-leaning Daily Mail has no problem publishing multiple photos tying the Nigerian suspects to Jessie Smollett, including images of the police raid on their home.

2. You won’t see many outlets mention how the original suspects were supposedly white.

Early stories were consistent in their condemnation and narrative that this attack came from right-wing Trump America soaked in white supremacy. See which of these media outlets step up now with mea culpas and context.

A still-disputed aspect of the attack on Smollett is a line shouted after his attackers fled the scene: “This is MAGA country.” While its veracity isn’t confirmed, its sentiment needs no fact-check. America’s choice to embrace the blind rage of late-stage whiteness in decline is an explicit longing for this kind of crime, a version of America in which those who do not assimilate to the satisfaction of their white, straight, and Christian betters are subject to the impunity of law enforcement, the scorn of the media and the fury of racist homophobes stalking the streets of your city, who want you to know that they could lynch you if they really wanted to, and maybe get away with it too.

While celebrities and politicians have condemned the attack and voiced their support for Smollett — who is black and openly gay — skepticism about his story has grown on social media.

Smollett’s family acknowledged that in releasing its first public statement about the incident Thursday. “We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime,” the statement said. “Jussie has told the police everything from the very beginning. His story has never changed.”

“I have to acknowledge the lies, and the hate. And it feels like if I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me much more. A lot more,” Smollett, 36, told ABC News’ Robin Roberts. “And that says a lot about the place that we are in our country right now.”

Prior to the police identifying and interviewing the two persons of interest, Smollett said he believes the two men in the photo released by police in the days after the attack are the perpetrators.

“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that that’s them,” Smollett said. “Never did.”

TMZ’s sources added that the two attackers were both white and wearing ski masks. They allegedly beat him so badly they broke one of his ribs, and also put a rope around his neck, yelled racist and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him, “and as they left they yelled, ‘This is MAGA country.’” A crudely lettered note sent to Fox’s Chicago studios last week made a death threat and an anti-gay slur against Smollett, but the actor turned down Fox’s offer to provide him with a round-the-clock security detail, according to TMZ.

3. You won’t see statistical evidence publicly published by the FBI stating that blacks are disproportionately hate crime offenders.

We constantly are told that blacks are over-represented as hate crime victims using FBI statistics. Those same statistics are almost never mentioned when showing that they’re at least 3 times more likely than non-Hispanic whites per capita in committing hate crimes. That previous sentence, while true, I’ve never seen published in hundreds of articles I’ve researched on the topic of hate crimes in the U.S. This is the most essential context in all these inaccurate narratives since the beginning of Trump’s election victory.

I wrote about those statistics here a few weeks ago. Excerpt below, which you won’t see on any media surrounding this incident.


2016 Hate Crime data on offenders show that blacks are clearly overrepresented, as they are at least 26 percent of “known” offenders and 13 percent of the population. Of the known ethnicity category, Hispanic/Latinos make up 22 percent of the total, despite being 17 percent of the population. Thus, it’s clear that non-Hispanic whites are not overrepresented as offenders. If they were, is there much doubt that would be reported? SOURCE:

This leads us to the one other hate crime statistic that’s almost entirely unreported: Hate crime offenders. That might be because blacks were at least 26.1 percent of offenders in 2016 and 21.6 percent in 2017. There’s also an “unknown” race percentage that can push those numbers up a few points. Blacks are 13 percent of the population. Even the book “Race and Racism in the United States: An Encyclopedia of the American Mosaic” writes that blacks are “surprisingly” overrepresented in committing hate crimes, mirroring their percentage of overall arrests. The media doesn’t call attention to it. One can only speculate as to why.

Indeed, a cursory search for “hate crime offenders 2017” brings up no news stories except for a single November 2017 Washington Post article that speciously states the following based on 2016 data: “The FBI report, which collects information on the offenders in the hate crimes tallied in the previous year, found that the largest share — 46 percent — were white. [emphasis added] About a quarter of the people who carried out hate crimes were black.” Note their editorial decision to add “largest share” for whites, as if to hype how whites commit twice as many hate crimes as blacks. The Washington Postlacks the same consistency when reporting similar percentages when it comes to victims of police killings. There, they alert readers to the implied racism in that gap: “Black males accounted for 22 percent of all people shot and killed in 2017, yet they are 6 percent of the total population. White males accounted for 44 percent of all fatal police shootings.” Criminal context is omitted, such as black males being responsible for more than half of all murder and robbery arrests. Since 2015 when they started this database, they reported in the same manner, winning the Pulitzer Prize for journalism in 2016. The data is useful. Their willfully misleading narrative and inconsistency in reporting statistics around crime and race is not.

Clearly, the evidence that could upend these near-weekly parables of white supremacy and Trump’s America flexing its muscle against minorities is out there and searchable.

In the media from 24 hours ago:

From today, February 15, 2019. Ask yourself: What is missing? What won’t the media be inclined to cover? Feel free to comment below.

Obligatory Russian angle. Who needs Russian meddling when the Americans can divide themselves adeptly?



David Shuey

Writer. Researcher. Designer. Human seeking better outcomes for all. Empiricism, relevant facts, and logical arguments > simple narratives.