“Gay men and women who will come forward and one day say they were a victim of a hate crime now will be doubted. People of faith — Muslim or any other religious faith who will be a victim of hate crimes; people also of all walks of life, of backgrounds, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, now this casts a shadow of whether they’re telling the truth, and he did this all in the name of self-promotion.

“This is without a doubt a whitewash of justice and sends a clear message that if you’re in a position of influence and power, you’ll get treated one way, other people will be treated another way. There is no accountability in the system.”

Those quotes are from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivered at a Tuesday news conference alongside Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson after the stunning news that Kim Foxx’s Cook County state’s attorney’s office had dropped all charges against “Empire” TV series star Jussie Smollett.

When a reporter asked Johnson, “Does Kim Foxx owe you an apology too?”

He was straight to the point: “The apology comes from the person who did this. If you want to say you’re innocent of a situation, then you take your day in court. I would never, if someone falsely accused me, I would never hide behind a brokered deal, a secrecy, period.”

Smollett is the actor who on Jan. 29 reported that he had been the victim of a hate crime when two white men wearing “MAGA” hats attacked him and put a noose around his neck.

Being black and gay, his identity politics card had the Chicago police on high alert to solve the case posthaste. Yet the more they learned, the more Smollett’s story smelled. Less than a month later, the actor was charged with disorderly conduct (filing a false report), and on March 7, a grand jury returned a 16-count indictment.

Foxx is defending her office and doing her best to explain that text messages from Tina Tchen, (former chief of staff to Michelle Obama) regarding “concerns” about the investigation had absolutely no influence on the decision to drop charges. Cook County State’s Attorney First Assistant Joseph Magats told ABC7 Chicago that the case was dropped because Smollett didn’t have a violent past and his lying about it wasn’t a violent crime.

So that’s the bar now? Nonviolent doesn’t merit prosecution? Tell that to Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos.

Thankfully justice may yet still prevail as it’s reported Smollett sent two threatening letters to himself. If there’s DNA to back that up, then that’s mail fraud. And mail fraud means the feds can prosecute what Chicago politicians will not.

And though it can’t stop Smollett from falsely claiming he’s innocent, the city of Chicago can at least attempt to make his pocket pay. On Thursday, the city sent a demand letter to Smollett’s legal team for repayment of $130,106.15 in overtime hours incurred during the investigation phase of his hoax.

So why did he do it? Why not?

For more than a decade now America has watched as one connected perp after another faced no consequence for his/her actions. Fast and Furious (Eric Holder saved by executive privilege), IRS (Lois Lerner collecting taxpayer pension rather than good behavior points in prison), John Koskinen (backup IRS tapes erased without a whimper), and of course Hillary Clinton. An illegal private server, phones and records destroyed while under subpoena, and a casual interview with the FBI with no recording for her. It would be jail if any of us did the same.

And then there’s the mother of all whitewashes.

The past two years of a media so obsessed with a Russian collusion hoax that the roles played by John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce Ohr and Nellie (Mr. and Mrs.) and who knows how many more was buried while Trump impeachment was pumped into the American psyche on an hourly basis.

A practice that past CNN President Jeff Zucker (now chairman of Warner Media and Sports) defended in an email to The New York Times with a jaw dropping, “We are not investigators ... we are journalists, and our role is to report the facts as we know them, which is exactly what we did.”

Well CNN “journalists” at least.

The mistakes and outright false reporting from CNN and others over the past two years are too numerous to list in even one column, let alone the end of this one.

Head over to www.sharylattkisson.com and check out what a real award-winning journalist and her “78 Media Mistakes in the Trump Era: The Definitive List.”

It should be a wake-up call for an industry whose trust level with the American public continues to decline.

But it won’t. Hype and sensationalism is profitable, and profits, not news, are what drive the corporate overlords.

So don’t blame Jussie. He’s just following the paths of his heroes. It worked for them; why wouldn’t it work for him?

It has so far.

Geoff Caldwell lives in Joplin. Reach him at gc@caldwellscorner.com.