In a phone interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on December 10 (via The New York Post), Donald Trump made it evidently clear that he thought Jussie Smollett’s guilty verdict was justified. But then, he went on to seemingly instrumentalize it as an example of how members of the Republican party — or, by all appearances, specifically white members of the Republican party — are supposedly maligned.
“This is really a hate crime,” Trump called the hoax, which by definition was not a hate crime by its very nature as a staged crime. “Sort of a hate crime in reverse … If he were a Republican, if he were on the other side, he’d be in jail for 25 years for hate crimes,” he later stated.
Trump’s accusations of the initial false report as a “hate crime in reverse” seem to be a rearrangement of the phrase “reverse racism,” which has been heavily criticized as a myth of white victimhood, per The Atlantic. His claim about how Smollett’s sentencing — which has not yet been adjudicated — would be harsher if he was a white conservative is also at odds with hard data regarding incarceration rates in the U.S. In a report published by CNN in October, a study conducted by the advocacy org The Sentencing Project using census data found that Black Americans are imprisoned at a rate five times higher than their white counterparts.