What’s happening: Four years ago, in January 2019, actor Jussie Smollett claimed to be a victim of a hate crime in Chicago. Smollett stated that he had been attacked late at night by white men who yelled at him that he was in “MAGA country,” along with shouting racist and homophobic slurs, assaulting him, pouring bleach on him, and fastening a noose around his neck. It was a hoax bought into by prominent Democratic politicians and was used to attack then-President Trump.
The inside story: The alleged attackers, paid by Smollet, were a pair of Nigerian brothers named Ola and Abel Osundairo. In a recent documentary, they shared their side of the story, saying that he had them arrive at the scene at 2 AM without phones. Jussie had prepared a list of slurs for them and wanted to make it look like he fought back. The two brothers understood Smollet’s goal was to become the “poster boy for activism.” Following the staged attack, Jussie went on a media tour to give details to the public.
One of the brothers said later, “Yo, this Hollywood s–t is crazy. And this dude, wow, I don’t know what the hell he’s on. But, s–t, we’re part of it now. Now it’s time to, you know, carry on and follow through with it.”
Who fell for Smollett’s hoax? Notably, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris tweeted statements condemning the supposed attackers and calling for justice. Neither Biden nor Harris deleted their tweets or provided further comments when Smollett was found guilty of staging the crime. Though the police knew it was a hoax almost immediately, it would not be another month that information would leak to the press.