Smollett on Stand: CNN’s Lemon Texted Me During Police Probe

Smollett on Stand: CNN's Lemon Texted Me During Police Probe courtroom sketch of jussie smollett on witness stand In this courtroom sketch, actor Jussie Smollett, left, is questioned by his defense attorney Nenye Uche, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on day five of his trial in Chicago. (Cheryl Cook/AP)

By Brian Freeman | Tuesday, 07 December 2021 09:53 AM

Actor Jussie Smollett, who took the witness stand Monday at his trial for staging a racist, anti-gay attack on himself and lying to Chicago police about it, testified that he had correspondence with CNN's Don Lemon during the early parts of the police investigation into the incident, Fox News reported.

Smollett testified that Lemon sent him a text relaying information that the police did not believe the actor's version of what happened to him.

Although Lemon did not respond to a request for comment, at the time of the incident in 2019, Lemon told his viewers on CNN that the story was "personal" since he and Smollett had been acquaintances and were in constant communication since the alleged incident.

Lemon stressed at the time on CNN that while Smollett is "innocent until proven guilty," he still "squandered the good will of a whole lot of people" if his story wasn’t true.

Lemon added in his report to his viewers that "he even lied to a lot of people … including me. And that’s not cool,"

Fox’s Todd Piro said he was not sure about the legalities of what Lemon did, "but again this would go back to the whole CNN journalistic questions, should we be helping the people cover overtly like CNN does seemingly with Chris Cuomo and now Don Lemon."

However, Mediaite declared that such a comparison is flawed, because Lemon disclosed on air at the time of reporting the incident that he was in contact with the actor, and also did not appear to give Smollett information that was not already public knowledge.

Smollett is charged with six counts of felony disorderly conduct for making a false police report about the alleged attack, according to Fox.

The felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have speculated that if Smollett is convicted he likely would be placed on probation and made to do community service.