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Don Lemon branded his pal Jussie Smollett a liar just hours after the actor was convicted of staging a hate crime against himself on Thursday — but the CNN host still failed to address his own role in the made-for-TV drama.
Lemon discussed the “Empire” star’s guilty verdict on his show Thursday night during a brief segment with legal analyst Joey Jackson.
The CNN host said Smollett “had to make up too many lies” in an attempt to explain his false narrative that two Trump-loving bigots beat him up and tied a noose around his neck in Chicago in 2019.
“I guess he got caught up in that because he took the stand himself. He got angry with the prosecutor as the prosecutor poked holes in his story, calling the only other witnesses liars,” Lemon said of the high-profile trial.
Lemon went on to say Smollett had potentially made it harder for “legitimate victims of hate crimes” to be taken seriously.
His comments came soon after a jury found Smollett guilty of five of six counts of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.
Despite briefly addressing Smollett’s “lies,” Lemon continued to ignore a bombshell part of the actor’s testimony that revealed the CNN host had tipped him off that he was being investigated by police.
Smollett told the court during his testimony earlier this week that he first knew that police doubted his version of events after getting a text message from Lemon.
Lemon has come under fire for his continued silence about his role in the saga, with some drawing comparisons between him and ex-CNN star Chris Cuomo, who was fired last weekend for meddling in his brother Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment scandal.
During his show’s segment on Thursday night, Lemon’s legal analyst guest called Smollett’s testimony “devastating” for his case.
“When you look at the case, the verdict, everything else — many people have said this is a case about credibility and he said, she said. I disagree. Every case relies upon credibility, but it’s also about a narrative that makes sense,” Jackson said.
“We lawyers, before we go before juries and pick them, we say always use your common sense and good judgment. And when you weave a web and tell a tale, it becomes problematic. I think that’s what happened here.
“His narrative, Mr. Smollett’s, didn’t carry the day and the jury discerned something was amiss and they found him accountable. So that was the right result.”
Asked if Smollett was likely to face jail time, Jackson said yes because the judge would want to “send a message to all others that you probably should not be doing this.”
“… if you come into a courtroom and you take the stand, which is your right, but you fabricate and you’re caught in those lies, I think a judge really is taken aback by that,” Jackson said.
Lemon’s coverage of the Smollett verdict was in stark contrast to his initial reporting immediately after the news broke in 2019.
He admitted to his CNN viewers that Smollett’s case was “personal” to him because they were friends.
Lemon also admitted in a 2019 interview with Entertainment Tonight that he had texted the actor “every day” to check on his wellbeing.
As you well know !