Stephen Colbert tried to parse the strange new development in the Jussie Smollett case on The Late Show Tuesday.
Yesterday, prosecutors in Chicago announced that they were dropping all 16 charges against Smollett, who was accused of orchestrating a hate crime against himself (the Empire actor has repeatedly denied the claim). “Man, Bill Barr has been busy,” Colbert cracked before adding, “For those who have not been following the story, let me catch you up — I dunno. This thing makes no sense.”
Smollett’s deferred prosecution deal surprised many, including Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. At a press conference, Emanuel called the decision a “whitewash of justice” and suggested it was more proof that people of influence and power get treated differently in the criminal justice system.
“But on the other hand,” Colbert quipped, “isn’t it a hopeful sign for America that regardless of your race or sexual orientation, all rich, famous people get off easily? I believe, it was Martin Luther King who said, ‘I have a dream that one day, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will hire the very best publicists to leverage their social media profile, escape charges and make a big comeback on The Masked Singer.“
Over on The Late Late Show, James Corden noted that while Smollett is no longer being charged with any crimes, the deal with prosecutors doesn’t officially exonerate him. “So if nothing else,” Corden joked, “he is now qualified to be the President of the United States.”