Hours after Chicago police announced charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett for allegedly filing a fake hate-crime report, the hosts of Fox & Friends spent the morning repeatedly fretting to their viewers that he could have caused “race riots.”
“Remember the potential—if this had been true—of maybe even race riots in major cities across this country,” co-host Brian Kilmeade said on Thursday morning to radio host William Kelly, who agreed with the assumption that riots would have ensued (and later lamented that Chicago is not, in fact, “MAGA Country”).
Kilmeade focused on the “ramifications” of Smollett’s initial allegations, implying that his actions could have sparked others to start a race riot.
“This easily could have been a race riot,” he exclaimed. “There’s people who are already on the edge when the wake up in the morning, all they need is something to set them off.”
Throughout the program, the hosts did not provide any evidence of potential riots after Smollett initially reported the non-existent assault.
“This could have blown up… it could have caused riots,” Ainsley Earhardt emphatically agreed with her colleagues, who all seemed to have the assumption that people of color are constantly on the brink of full-blown, nationwide race riots.
Smollett alleged that on Jan. 29, two men wearing ski masks assaulted him, tried to tie a rope around his neck, and poured an unknown chemical on him as he walked home from a Subway sandwich shop around 2 a.m. in Chicago.
During the attack, Smollett told police, the two men called him several homophobic and racist slurs, and shouted “this is MAGA country” at him.
After a lengthy investigation, however, in which Chicago police found multiple inconsistencies and evidence that pointed to Smollett’s involvement in his own alleged attack, the actor was charged Wednesday evening with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.
On Thursday morning, Chicago police announced Smollett orchestrated his own hate crime for a "publicity stunt” after he was upset about his compensation on the Fox musical drama, ultimately paying two men $3,500 to stage the attack.
“Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career," Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said at the Thursday news conference. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn, and certainly didn’t deserve.”