Geraldo Rivera laced into Jussie Smollett on Friday, calling the “Empire” star a “race traitor” after Chicago police accused him of staging his own hate crime because he was unhappy with his salary on the show.
“This fellow Smollett is a race traitor,” the Fox News correspondent said on “Fox & Friends” Friday. “He is a cynical, selfish, self-absorbed person who would do absolutely anything to get a buck. The Chicago Police superintendent was repelled by him.”
“How dare he use a noose, the most potent symbol of oppression in the Jim Crow post-Civil War, post-slavery era that exists in this country, lynching in a city that gave us Emmett Till, the teenager who was later lynched down south,” Rivera continued. “Come on. This Smollett deserves all the scorn, all of the ridicule, all of the contempt that people are expressing toward him now.”
“Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade was in broad agreement.
“You know what’s amazing to me,” Kilmeade said. “The fact is he’s not even contrite. They spell this thing out in a way as if it was an episode of ‘Murder She Wrote.’ They put the whole thing out there. It’s an air tight case with two main witnesses and a check that he wrote.”
Smollett turned himself into authorities on Thursday after being slapped with a felony charge of filing a false police report. After spending a few hours in custody, he posted $100,000 bond and was back on the set of “Empire” later that day, according to numerous media reporters.
In a press conference Thursday, Chicago police laid out the case against Smollett.
“Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” police superintendent Eddie Johnson said. “Bogus police reports cause real harm. They do harm to every legitimate victim who is in need of support by police and investigators as well as the citizens of this city … I’m offended by what happened and I am also angry.”
On Friday, the show announced that they would remove Smollett’s character from the remaining two episodes of Season 5.
“While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out,” executive producers Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer said in a joint statement.
“We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”
The actor, however, has maintained his innocence, with his team releasing a statement after the press conference.
“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system,” it read. “The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election. Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”