Nearly three weeks after they dished about his alleged hate crime, the “Good Morning America” anchor is opening up about her emotions to the interview.
“I’ll be completely honest, I was like I don’t know if I want to do the interview or not,” she said during her solo panel at The Cut’s “How I Get It Done” event on Monday.
“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.”
Robin told the intimate crowd at 1 Hotel Brooklyn that “All I wanted was to get to the truth,”
“All I wanted was to give the truth.”
OTHER NEWS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: Jussie Smollett on the Pressure of Hollywood Fame: ‘I’m About to Break’
The veteran journalist said she was told that Jussie “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.
“I sit down with him, and I don’t know what he’s going to say,” Roberts said. “Following up [about how] he couldn’t believe people didn’t believe him, well I go, ‘You’re out 2 o’clock in the morning, you’re getting a sandwich, [and] you won’t give up your phone.’”
She also acknowledged the pressure she was under to 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,” Robin explained.
Days after the interviewed aired, two Nigerian brothers came forward and reportedly told investigators that they were paid by Jussie to stage the attack.
“People are looking at the interview through the eyes of ‘How did you not know?’” Roberts recalled. “I did the interview 48 hours before then. Had I had that information or [knew] what the brothers were alleging, heck yeah, I would have asked him about that.”
“I pride myself in being fair, I know how much work went into being balanced about what had happened and to challenge him on certain things,” she said.
Since Smollett was considered a victim at the time of their interview, she noted how 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.