The Jussie Smollett And Don Lemon Drama Is Messier Than We Originally Thought

The plot is thickening for the closely-watched Jussie Smollett saga. In case you missed it, the former "Empire" star became the victim of a hate crime in January 2019 when he was attacked in Chicago just after midnight. According to AP, the actor was allegedly ambushed by two men, had a rope placed around his neck, and an "unknown substance" poured on him. The perpetrators reportedly told Smollett he was in "MAGA country" — a reference to former President Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again."

Shortly after, police noted the "trajectory of the investigation" shifted after the questioning of brothers Abimbola "Bola" and Olabinjo "Ola" Osundairo — both of whom would ultimately testify that Smollett orchestrated the fake attack in December. In February 2019, Smollett was charged for filing a false police report, though those charges were dropped one month later. Those charges would ultimately be restored one year later with Smollett pleading not guilty, leading to his currently ongoing trial.

Smollett has denied all claims again, alleging that he had a sexual relationship with Bola and admitting they "did more drugs and like, made out" in the process, per CNN. Now, Smollett is weaving a familiar face into the story in the form of CNN's Don Lemon.

Jussie Smollett alleges Don Lemon warned him following his 2019 attack

Following the termination of Chris Cuomo on December 4th, CNN now finds itself in another hole after Jussie Smollett roped prominent anchor Don Lemon into his chronicle of hate crime drama. According to the Daily Mail, Smollett, who was allegedly the victim of a racist and homophobic attack, claimed Lemon cautioned him in 2019 that Chicago police did not believe his claims of a hate crime.

If proven true, it will highlight another discrepancy amongst CNN anchors who use their influence to aid friends and family — much like Chris Cuomo helping brother Andrew amongst his sexual misconduct allegations. Lemon himself has also been the center of a sexual scandal for several years after Dustin Hice accused the anchor of assault in 2018.

Some in the media have come down on CNN, Lemon, as well as reporter Omar Jimenez following their coverage of the Smollett scandal. Conservative journalist Nicholas Fondacaro tweeted that "At 10-to-midnight, @DonLemon and @OmarJimenez finally discuss the Jussie Smollett trial. But neither "journalist" mentioned how Smollett testified under oath that Lemon tipped him off to police skepticism of his hoax claims." Sharing a video of CNN's coverage, Fondacaro also highlighted that "The whole segment lasted 5 minutes and 7 seconds."