CNN's Don Lemon on Jussie Smollett: Donald Trump and Conservative Media Will 'Eat His Lunch'

CNN's Don Lemon has warned that the conservative media and President Donald Trump will use the case against actor Jussie Smollett to push their ideological agenda.

The 36-year-old Empire actor was charged Wednesday for filing a false police report linked to an alleged attack in Chicago last month.

During the alleged assault—in which he said the two attackers shouted Trump slogans and used racist and homophobic slurs—Smollett claimed to have been punched in the face, had a rope put around his neck and had an unidentified liquid poured on him.

Two brothers were arrested last week on suspicion of being behind the assault. However, they told police Smollett had orchestrated the attack and paid them for their involvement.

On Wednesday, Lemon said Smollett's decision to appear on Good Morning America soon after to discuss the supposed attack was unwise, and warned that the actor's handling of the incident will only make the backlash against him worse.

“This is playing out every single moment in cable news,” Lemon said. “Sean Hannity is going to eat Jussie Smollett's lunch every single second. Tucker Carlson is going to eat Jussie Smollett's lunch every single second,” the host warned.

“The president of the United States is going to eat his lunch,” he added. “And who does the president of the United States watch every night? Cable news.”

Criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson had already suggested that Smollett decision to publicize the apparent assault was a mistake, and one that could put him in legal jeopardy.

“Number one is the law, and whether it makes sense legally to be out there speaking and everything else. From that perspective, it's damning,” he told Lemon. “All of those things you heard him say on TV are going to be played in a courtroom in the event his goes to trial, and it's going to crush him.” The attorney noted that what might work from a public relations perspective does not necessarily help Smollett's legal case.

Guest Midwin Charles then warned that Smollett's case must not be used to victimize other people who truly have been the victims of assault and prejudice.

“The pushback on this needs to be that the framing cannot be that simply because of this one case, that all the other victims that come forward are somehow no longer believed,” Charles argued. “That's really important.”

Also on Wednesday, CNN's Brian Stelter noted that many figures in the media and politics may have been too quick to throw their support behind Smollett. Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, for example, described the attack as an “attempted modern day lynching.”

“If, in fact, he was lying, there were a lot of Democratic candidates saying this was a modern day lynching,” Stelter said. “This turns out to more of a modern day lie if the police are right.”

Jussie Smollett
In this file photo, Jussie Smollett speaks at an awards show on December 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images