According to multiple reports, the “Good Morning America” anchor got candid about her Feb. 12 sit-down with the “Empire” actor, who claimed he was attacked in January, telling reporters during her solo panel at The Cut’s “How to Get It Done” event that she didn’t know if she wanted to do the interview in the first place.
“I’ll be completely honest, I was like, I don’t know if I want to do the interview or not,” she said on Monday, per Page Six. “I said, ‘I don’t want to sit down with him if he’s going to lawyer up.’ 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 told the audience during the event that she was promised she could challenge Smollett on “red flags” over the alleged assault.
“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.
Her interview, which aired two days after it was taped on Feb. 14, was challenging for the reporter, who said that she felt pressure 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.”
However, her highly-publicized sit-down was overshadowed by the news that two brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, claimed that Smollett paid them to stage the attack. Roberts stated that if she and the producers had known about the brothers’ claims, she would have asked him about it.
“Had I had that information or what the brothers were alleging — heck, yeah, I would have asked that,” she said, per The Hollywood Reporter. “But it aired that morning [and] we taped it two days ahead of time.”
Smollett has maintained that he is a victim and has denied all the allegations that he staged the incident via his attorney. However, the actor was arrested on Feb. 21 after being charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report in which he claimed he was the victim of a hate crime.
The actor was then released after he posted $10,000 of his $100,000 bond. Smollett’s next hearing is set for March 14.
For more on the scandal, watch below.