Smollett was thrust back into the spotlight on Tuesday after a grand jury indicted him for a second time on charges of lying to the police, in a case that drew worldwide attention.
David E. Johnson, the CEO and founder of Strategic Vision PR Group, an Atlanta-area public relations firm that has no ties to the case, said the new charges couldn’t be worse news for Smollett if he had any hopes of reviving his career.
“It brings everything back,” said Johnson. “Nobody was really talking about it. ... Now, unless he’s acquitted and totally vindicated, this is the end of his career.”
“Even people who were giving him the benefit of the doubt for so long” would not be able to defend him, Johnson said.
But Eric Rose, a partner in the public relations firm Englander Knabe & Allen, said that how the actor responds to the latest charges could determine whether he can recover.
“The public is extremely forgiving and allows people to make mistakes, but you have to own up to your mistakes and apologize in sincere fashion, and he has done none of that,” said Rose, who specializes in reputation management and crisis communications. He said he doesn’t believe Smollett’s claims of innocence.