Brow Beat

Trevor Noah Says Jussie Smollett’s Story Is a Lesson in Confirmation Bias

Amid mounting evidence that Empire actor Jussie Smollett may have staged his own attack with the help of two Nigerian brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, Trevor Noah is questioning people’s willingness to prematurely believe reports that echo their own beliefs in a Daily Show “Between the Scenes” segment. Noah’s musings come after CBS News reported that sources close to the investigation confirmed that the brothers, who were extras on the Fox series, told police they purchased the rope that was found around Smollett’s neck.

As he often does during breaks in taping, Noah went off-script as he addressed the Smollett investigation and the dangers of confirmation bias in a country that is already deeply divided.

“We live in a world where people are too enthusiastic at jumping at stories that confirm their biases, and instead of just pausing and going, ‘what do I make of the story,’” Noah warned. “That’s when I think you have to be even more vigilant, is when it confirms everything you’ve believed.”

The late night host went on to remind the audience that neither side is immune to this practice, however that is not an excuse to continue it.

“This goes for both sides,” said Noah. “But I think increasingly as Trump’s come into power, people have become increasingly willing to accept a story that confirms anything about a Trump supporter or Trump or a white person.”

Director Ava DuVernay also took to Twitter to speak about the investigation, sharing that she is skeptical of the Chicago Police Department because of its history of corruption.

Noah was quick to disagree with that viewpoint. “The Chicago P.D. has lied about many things when it includes themselves. Cops have lied to further their own goals. This had nothing to do with them. It wasn’t a story about police. They lied about Laquan McDonald,” reminded Noah. “But this is a completely separate thing where they had nothing to gain or lose by him being proved right or wrong.” He finished up with a joke: “Either way they were going to arrest the black person, so they were winning”.