Colo. Senator Michael Bennet Remains Silent on Smollett While Others Backtrack

Other presidential contenders have addressed reversal in story of attack

Sen. Michael Bennet

Sen. Michael Bennet / Getty Images

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Colorado senator Michael Bennet has yet to address developments in the Jussie Smollett controversy, despite having been one of many politicians who quickly jumped on the original report in late January that the black and openly gay actor had been the victim of a racially and politically motivated attack.

"There are no words to describe the despicable attack on Jussie Smollett," Bennet's original tweet on Jan. 29 read. "We must all come together to stand up against homophobia, racism, and all forms of hate. My thoughts are with Jussie, and I wish him a speedy recovery."

The tweet was liked over 2,200 times.

In Smollett's original version of the crime, he claimed two white attackers put a rope around his neck, poured a chemical on him, shouted homophobic slurs, and also yelled, "This is MAGA country!"

Repeated requests for comment from Bennet were not returned.

While the Colorado Democrat stands silent, many of his other colleagues in the Senate have had to address the most recent turn of events wherein the Chicago Police said they now believe Smollett staged and orchestrated his own attack, and subsequently filed false reports.

Bennet is currently exploring a possible presidential bid, and it is primarily those senators who are running for president who have addressed the flip in the story.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), who first said the Smollett attack represented an "attempted modern day lynching," later appeared to have been caught off guard when first asked about the unfolding news in the case just three days ago at a campaign event.

"Um, uh, OK. So I will say this about that case," Harris said. "I think the facts are unfolding, and I'm very concerned about obviously the initial allegation that he made about what might have happened.

"And it's something we should all take seriously whenever anyone alleges that kind of behavior, but there should be an investigation," Harris added. "And I think that once the investigation has concluded then we can all comment, but I'm not going to comment until I know the outcome of the investigation."

Harris's response drew criticism from MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, who said her unsteady response made it appear as if she was not aware the tweet was ever published, implying that the senator's staffers are responsible for much of what appears on her Twitter feed.

On Sunday, New Jersey senator Cory Booker (D.) said judgment on the case should be suspended until "all the information actually comes out from on-the-record sources."

At that point, Chicago Police had not announced that Smollett was a suspect, but various media reports clearly were painting a picture that the original story of the attack was under intense scrutiny, and parts of the story were not holding up.

New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand also tweeted within the first day that news of the attack became public.

"This is a sickening and outrageous attack, and horribly, it's the latest of too many hate crimes against LGBTQ people and people of color," Gillibrand tweeted. "We are all responsible for condemning this behavior and every person who enables or normalizes it. Praying for Jussie and his family."

While on the campaign trail in Iowa, Gillibrand moderated her previous position.

"I still don't know the facts of what happened and so I will wait to find out the facts before I make another statement. I think my statement was much more about that racism and homophobia in any form, any bigoted act or words are heinous and something that we don't support, but we don't know the facts, so I'm going to wait and find out the facts."

A recent segment on CNN examined how presidential candidates responded, and the subsequent backtracking.

"There was a rush to judgment, most all of the Democratic candidates weighed in on Twitter before they knew all of the facts of the case," CNN's ‘New Day' anchor Alisyn Camerota said Thursday morning shortly after Smollett had turned himself in to Chicago police.

CNN's senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson pointed out that Harris's background as a prosecutor should have led her to use the word "alleged" at the least.

Bennet is scheduled to be in Iowa this weekend for numerous events as he continues to weigh a presidential run.

Todd Shepherd

Todd Shepherd   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Todd Shepherd is a staff writer at the Washington Free Beacon. He began his reporting career in radio, working as an anchor and reporter for KOMA in Oklahoma City and KOA in Denver. He spent eight years as the investigative reporter for the Independence Institute in Colorado, a free-market-based think tank. Campaigns and Elections magazine named him a "Top Colorado Influencer" for his reporting and news blog. He’s a graduate of the media studies program from Oklahoma Baptist University. His Twitter handle is @shepherdreports.

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