The revolution (and Jussie Smollett's trial) will be televised

Judging by the web traffic and the number of cable news segments on the subject, much of the public simply can’t get enough of these Jussie Smollett stories. What looked to me like a simple case of a B-list (at best) actor faking a racist attack to boost his career has somehow turned into a larger statement about society or something. Well, if you’re in that category, fear not. You’ll be getting all of the Smollett goodness you can handle. A judge in Chicago has now ruled that cameras will be allowed in the courtroom for Jussie’s trial, and the request to allow this came from the defendant himself. (CBS Chicago)

Thanks to a ruling from a judge, everyone will be able to see “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett in court facing criminal charges.

Smollett did not need to be in court for Tuesday’s hearing, but he chose to be there standing before the judge with his legal team in what several defense attorneys not connected to the case referred to as a routine hearing.

The hearing comes after a grand jury indicted the actor on 16 counts last week, accusing him of falsifying a police report and lying to police.

Once inside, Smollett quietly led a team of family, friends and attorneys through the courthouse.

What’s going on here seems fairly obvious, and if Smollett’s legal team didn’t think it would be helpful to him they probably wouldn’t have gone along with it. We already have one example that was on display during yesterday’s hearing. There was no need for Jussie Smollett to even be in court for that hearing. It was just some pro forma motions that needed to be put into the record and Smollett’s attorneys could have wrapped it up with the judge and the prosecutors in a matter of minutes.

But that’s not what happened. Smollett showed up anyway, trailed by a group of supporters, posing for pictures and offering quotes as he made his way in and out of the brief hearing. In other words, with the state looking very confident about the evidence they have and anticipating a conviction, Smollett is trying to turn this into a dog and pony show to win the battle in the court of public opinion. If he can generate some public sympathy for his cause and make himself out to be the victim of a massive, racist legal system, this entire affair could actually wind up helping his career rather than hurting it.

And what does he really have to lose? All the talk of him winding up getting years behind bars strikes me as doubtful at best. This could still wind up going to a plea deal where he walks away with a fine, time served and some community service. Even if he does wind up serving some time, he’s probably betting that it would only serve to expand his legend. But he’s already massively more famous (or is it infamous?) than he was before this freak show of a hoax kicked off. So why wouldn’t he want cameras in the courtroom to capture every moment of it? Remember… this guy is a trained actor. When the cameras are rolling, he knows how to play it for the best effect.

Enjoy the show, folks. As for me, I’ll confess that I’ll probably watch because that’s my job. But I’m not expecting any sort of classic courtroom drama to emerge.

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David Strom 5:21 PM on June 02, 2023