Jussie Smollett was arrested Thursday morning on suspicion of orchestrating a phony hate crime against himself. The 36-year-old actor has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report, and now faces up to three years in prison.
Shortly after Smollett turned himself in, Charlamagne tha God addressed the scandal on Power 105.1's The Breakfast Club. The co-host crowned Smollett as the "Donkey of the Day" and blasted the actor for allegedly lying to police and attempting to exploit the country's racial divide. Charlamagne also explained why he has never publicly commented about Smollett's case until now.
"From the beginning, I never believed this story. From the beginning this story sounded unbelievable, very sketchy. But I didn't feel the need to call BS on this story [...] my intuition could be wrong," Charlamagne said. "[...] I gave him the benefit of the doubt because he's a black man. And why wouldn't I believe a black man who tells me he's been the victim of a hate crime? Why wouldn't I believe a gay man who tells me he's the victim of hate crime? Well, I didn't. And since I didn't believe, and I had no reason not to believe him, I did what is very hard to do in this era, and that's not have an opinion on this situation."
Charlamagne went on to say that many people chose their feelings over facts and will blindly accept stories that reconfirm their biases. The radio personality insisted Smollett was very aware of this, which is why he incorporated racist and homophobic elements into his account.
"He played with our emotional heartstrings," Charlamagne said.
Prosecutors have presented evidence that suggest Smollett faked the Jan. 29 assault with the help of Abel and Ola Osundairo. Though Charlamagne and others are convinced Smollett is guilty, the question still remains: What were his potential motives? Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett staged the attack because he was "dissatisfied with his [Empire] salary. Charlamagne theorizes Smollett wanted something bigger.
"Now I know, the magic question everyone is asking is why? Why would he make something like this up? He wanted to be the gay 2Pac. Jussie Lyon wanted to be a martyr," Charlamagne said. "He wanted to be a symbol of someone who stood up against hate in America. He wanted the same admiration you see Kaepernick getting for taking a knee for black people. He wanted the attention that Meek [Mill] is getting for standing for the rights of those in prison."
Charlamagne went on to call Smollett a "clout chaser" and said the actor was using the same tactics bigots have been used for years.
"Black men in this country have been in prison and killed for years because of lies like this. You took a play out of your oppressors' playbook, sir [...] You cannot become what you claim to hate," the co-host said. "[...] In this attention economy people cash in on experiencing some type of injustice. What the difference is that the injustice that happened to Colin Kaepernick was real. The injustice that happened to Meek Mill was real. Your injustice was fake."
Watch Charlamagne's full statement above.
Smollett was released from police custody Thursday after posting $100,000 bail. He is due back in court March 14.