A horrendous attack on a openly homosexual black actor sparked outrage across the nation on Tuesday. But much of the focus of the outrage appeared to be on news reports that the suspects yelled “This is MAGA country!” amidst their racial and anti-gay slurs.
According to the Chicago Police report, they received a report of a “possible racially-charged assault and battery” on a member of the “Empire” TV series early Tuesday morning. That actor was later identified as Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal, one of the main characters in the ongoing series.
Police officers were told by Smollett that two unknown people walked up to him and began to verbally assault him before hitting him in the face and pouring a chemical substance on him. They were also told that the suspects “wrapped a rope” around Smollett’s neck before running away.
According to CNN, Smollett admitted himself to the hospital and was later listed “in good condition” after the brutal attack.
"We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our 'Empire' family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own," said a studio representative for 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment.
But then news started to spread from TMZ to outlets like Elle and The Root that the perpetrators were masked white men who yelled “This is MAGA country!” as they beat him. TMZ says that information came from “sources directly connected to Jussie.”
That bit of information shifted the nation’s anger from being directed solely at the kinds of sick individuals who would assault somebody because of their skin color and lifestyle choices to being directed at President Trump supporters in general.
But now the “MAGA” remark is being brought into question. It came from an anonymous source to TMZ, which has been rated by Media Bias/Fact Check as having a “mixed” record of factual reporting.
A reporter for Reason.com, which has a “high” factual reporting rating, says they spoke with the Chicago Police, who said the alleged “MAGA” comment was never reported to them by Smollett. They also never identified the suspects as white men.
A police spokesman explained, "According to the victim, the offenders' faces were concealed. We have no record indicating that [they shouted 'MAGA'], we only have record of them shouting racial and homophobic slurs at him."
"We have no record of The MAGA Country comment," they reiterated in a statement. "We have racial and homophobic comments documented."
The Daily Beast, a hard-left publication with a “high” factual ranking, spoke with the Chicago Police as well, who said that it was unknown at this time if the attackers were even male. They added that their faces and hands were covered.
Police are investigating the incident and looking for witnesses and video footage.