“Maybe because of his representatives.”
Don Lemon offered a bizarre hot take on “CNN Tonight” Wednesday, saying that Jussie Smollett’s loss of public support was not his own fault.
Smollett, an actor on Fox’s “Empire,” turned himself over to police Thursday on a felony charge of filing a false police report. Chicago police, a judge, and President Donald Trump took turns publicly lambasting Smollett for allegedly orchestrating a fake racist attack against himself as a “publicity stunt.”
However, according to Lemon, Smollett’s defeat in “the court of public opinion” is really the responsiblity of whoever is advising him.
“He lost because — not his fault,” the anchor said during a panel discussion. “Maybe people were, I don’t know what they were saying to him, maybe because of his representatives. Who knows? But it was handled poorly.”
CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson pushed back, saying Smollett “went out and gave the interview,” referring to the actor’s appearance last Thursday on “Good Morning America.”
Lemon later complimented Robin Roberts, the host who sympathetically interviewed Smollett, saying she did a “terrific job.” But he quickly returned to his larger point that the whole thing was a PR mishap, saying that handling a crisis with a morning show appearance is “old school.”
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Earlier in the show, Lemon acknowledged that he and Smollett were friendly and had been in touch since the incident. He stressed that Smollett is “innocent until proven guilty,” but said that if he had lied he would have “squandered the good will of very high-profile people.
Smollett was released from police custody on $100,000 bail on Thursday. Fox is considering removing Smollett from production on “Empire,” Variety reported after he was charged.
Last week on his show, Lemon argued that Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, is not African-American because her family had not suffered enough from the legacy of American slavery.
WATCH: CNN: Worst Thing Smollett Did Was Make SJWs Look Stupid
- Anchor Don Lemon speaks on “CNN Tonight” on Feb. 21, 2019.: Screen grab from Twitter