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Authorities in Chicago announced on Tuesday they were dismissing charges against Jussie Smollett, the Empire actor who had previously been arrested for faking a hate crime.
Two days earlier, Attorney General William Barr issued a summary of Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election, in which he said President Donald Trump’s campaign did not collude with Russia to win.
What do those things have to do with each other? Well, nothing, except that in the hyperconnected media consumption environment known as Twitter dot com, every moment becomes a flashpoint for partisan discourse.
Conservatives never believed Smollett was the victim of a hate crime. When he was charged, they cheered. But now that he’s no longer going to be prosecuted, they are pissed. They believe he’s still likely guilty of the crime despite prosecutors deciding not to pursue charges.
Huge story developing in Chicago. After prosecutors drop charges against Smollett, and judge seals record--hiding all evidence against Smollett from public view--city officials go public with their outrage. Say Smollett is guilty, overwhelming evidence against him--a whitewash.— Byron York (@ByronYork) March 26, 2019
Bryon York, who tweeted that Smollett getting off was a “whitewash,” has been one of the leading columnists disputing the Trump-Russia collusion narrative in the Washington Examiner.
He’s bothered that a government official declared the case unprosecutable.
You see where this is going.
york just wrote a whole piece on how trump was exonerated because ag declined to press charges and argued that it mueller report didn't need to be made public but a black guy... https://t.co/QhLfblXk8c— honestly, gravy is great year-round (@ichaseferalcats) March 26, 2019
So you’re saying declining to press charges doesn’t mean that ther person in question didn’t commit the act?— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) March 26, 2019
Now imagine he's Trump. https://t.co/BiygTPuBXS— David Weiner (@daweiner) March 26, 2019
So you agree that hiding evidence against somebody from public view is a whitewash. Can you wait here for a second? We'll be back...— JKDAnthony10 (@JKDAnthony10) March 26, 2019
If it reminds you of a certain annoying, pedantic meme that everyone hates come to life—well, that’s because it basically is.
Anyway, the two things are completely unrelated and neither decision not to prosecute are definitive proof of anyone’s innocence or guilt. But where’s the fun in having that reasoned dialogue?
David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]