Don Lemon throws pal Jussie Smollett to wolves after verdict

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CNN’s Don Lemon officially threw his buddy Jussie Smollett under the bus Thursday evening after the disgraced Hollywood actor was finally convicted on five counts of disorderly conduct for the hate crime hoax he’d committed in early 2019.

Though the two are longtime friends, and though Lemon was quick to defend Smollett after the initial hate crime hoax, none of that friendship was evident in his tough commentary after the actor’s guilty verdict was read earlier that evening.

The commentary came amid a discussion with CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson. After Jackson listed some of the many inconsistencies in the actor’s dubious defense, Lemon jumped in by branding Smollett a bold-faced liar, full stop.

“He had to make up too many lies as to why he didn’t want to do a certain thing, to cover, like, another lie, and I guess he got caught up in that, because he took the stand himself. He got angry with the prosecutor as the prosecutor poked holes in his story, calling the only other witnesses liars,” he said.

This is true. To hear Smollett tell it, everybody else in the world was lying but him, the guy with the most bizarre, inconsistent story in recent history.

Asked earlier for his reaction to the verdict, Jackson had called it “proper” and noted the total lack of credibility from Smollett.

“Every case relies upon credibility, but it’s also about a narrative that makes sense. We lawyers, before we go before juries and we pick them, we say always use your common sense and good judgment. And when you weave a web and tell a tale and it doesn’t make sense, it becomes problematic. I think that’s what happened here,” he said.

The issue, he continued, was that Smollett kept contradicting himself.

“I think certainly from a defense perspective, you have to raise the specter of reasonable doubt, but you have to do it in a way that pokes holes in a prosecution’s case,” he said.

But Smollett and his defense instead wound up poking holes in their own narrative.

“It’s difficult to do that … when you say you don’t know anything about it, but they show you a video and show you various footage where you’re at that actual scene and potentially it’s you planning for something that happened. It’s difficult for you to say I don’t know and I wasn’t involved, and then they present text messages to you with certain brothers who were involved with you,” Jackson continued.

Taking up the mic again, Lemon shared his concern that Smollett’s stunt will “undermine future victims, legitimate victims of hate crimes.”

In fairness to the Hollywood actor, he’s by no means alone. Hate crime hoaxes are a dime a dozen these days.

Jackson responded by noting that given the negative ramifications of Smollett’s behavior, he’ll likely face prison time.

“A judge can give him probation, but I think when a judge looks at all those things — punishment, deterrence. You don’t want people acting this way. Hate crimes, you made it up. People really have hate crimes,” he said.

“You look the issue of expending of resources. That’s a problem. You get on the stand and you lie about it. So, I think the judge has to fashion a remedy appropriate not only to him but to send a message to all others that you probably should not be doing.”

The one thing missing from the CNN discussion was any mention of Lemon’s own alleged involvement in the case.

In testimony delivered last week, Smollett divulged that in the immediate aftermath of the hate crime hoax, Lemon had texted him to warn that the police were skeptical of his claims. While certainly not illegal, this act does raise ethical concerns.

In fact, many critics responded to this bombshell allegation by calling for Lemon’s immediate termination from CNN.


A week later, both CNN and Lemon still remain “mum” on the matter.

Vivek Saxena


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