On Feb. 14, 2019, Good Morning America aired an exclusive interview with Jussie Smollett, during which he defended himself against the skeptics and questioned those who doubt his story. “It’s not necessarily that you don’t believe that this is the truth, you don’t even want to see the truth,” a tearful Smollett said. When questioned about why he was hesitant to call the police, Smollett said his decision was due to “a level of pride” of not wanting to be seen as a weak gay man.

Smollett then claimed people doubted his story because he said the attackers were white. “It feels like 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,” he said. “And that says a lot about the place that we are in our country right now.” He also denied he said the attackers were wearing MAGA hats. “I didn’t need to add anything like that. They called me a f*****, they called me a n*****. There’s no which way you cut it. I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on top of some racist sundae.”

When asked why he believes he was a target, Smollett claimed it was due to his outspoken criticisms of President Donald Trump. “I come really, really hard against 45,” he said. “I come really, really hard against his administration, and I don’t hold my tongue.”

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