Robin Roberts’ colleagues at ABC are rushing to defend her after people questioned why she interviewed “Empire” star Jussie Smollett about his alleged attack that is now believed to be a hoax.
Smollett claimed that he was attacked in Chicago in late January by two men shouting racial and homophobic slurs and insisting that they were in “MAGA country.” Roberts interviewed Smollett on “Good Morning America” (GMA) last week about the alleged hate crime, despite some red flags being raised about his story.
During the interview, Smollett tearfully insisted he was telling the truth about the attack and reacted angrily at people who were doubting his story. Roberts said she found him “credible.”
“If I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot more,” Smollett insisted.
The day before the interview aired, Chicago police arrested two Nigerian brothers who are extras on “Empire” in connection to the attack. Just 12 hours after the interview, local Chicago stations began reporting that Smollett was now a suspect in his own case. Smollett was arrested on charges of filing a false police report Thursday morning.
However, staffers at GMA are apparently not that upset that Roberts got duped, instead defending her decision to have the interview.
“It was an interview everyone wanted,” one GMA staffer told BuzzFeed News.
“There’s not really a spirit of regret about the Jussie interview,” another BuzzFeed source claimed. “And no one feels that Robin got duped. Taken advantage of, yes, but not duped.”
Another source suggested that Roberts was a victim who was “lied” to by Smollett, while a network executive said the interview is “central to the story as a whole.”
Roberts spoke out about her interview with Smollett on Monday, explaining that she thought the timing of the interview was unfortunate. (RELATED: ‘Good Morning America’ Has Robin Roberts Breaks Silence On Smollett Interview)
“When I sat down with Jussie, it was Tuesday night in Chicago, at the time to give his first account — publicly give his first account — of what he said happened,” Roberts said. “And we have to remember, at that time, on Tuesday, police officers were saying that his account was consistent, it was credible, and that he was being cooperative. This was all before the interview aired on Thursday, and then we found out about the brothers.”