Folks went hard on Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts following her sit down with Empire star Jussie Smollett regarding his alleged hate crime.
Many felt she went too easy on the embattled actor, who stands accused of faking the crime as part of an elaborate PR stunt because he was allegedly unhappy with his wages from the hit FOX music drama series.
Now, Roberts is responding to the critics and finally sharing how she really feels about their highly publicized conversation.
“I’ll be completely honest, I was like I don’t know if I want to do the interview or not,” she said during The Cut’s “How I Get It Done” event at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge on Monday, Page Six reports.
“I said, ‘I don’t want to sit down with him if he’s going to lawyer up,’” Roberts recalled. “And then I was told, ‘He wants to speak with you,’ [because] he was outraged by people making assumptions about whether it had happened or not.”
Roberts wanted to challenge him on some of the more questionable parts of his version of what he said went down on that cold Chicago night. Roberts asserts that she had hoped to get new information out of him.
“They said, ‘He wants to say things that he has not said’ and I’m like, ‘As a journalist, as a newsperson, this is newsworthy, he’s going to go on record for the first time, yes I’ll do the interview,’” she explained.
Roberts also acknowledged the pressure she felt to properly represent the LGBT community.
“I’m a black gay woman, he’s a black gay man,” she said. “He’s saying that there’s a hate crime, so if I’m too hard, then my LGBT community is going to say, ‘You don’t believe a brother,’ if I’m too light on him, it’s like, ‘Oh, because you are in the community, you’re giving him a pass.’”
“It was a no-win situation for me,” she explained.
Because Smollett was considered a victim at the time of their interview, she carefully selected her questions.
“There’s so many people who do not come forward because others are not believed. I don’t know how this is all going to end,” she said. “We still talk to the [Chicago] police superintendent [Eddie T. Johnson].”
“It was one of the most challenging interviews I’ve ever had to do,” she said.
Following the interview, it has been alleged that ABC staffers expressed their doubts about Smollett’s story.
The actor is facing disorderly conduct charges for filing a false police report. His next court date is March 14.