Is it any wonder that American news consumers are at the end of their ropes of patience with the "mainstream media"?

Three weeks ago, when I first documented troubling questions, contradictions and doubts about Trump-hating, attention-craving actor Jussie Smollett's absurd hate crime claims, few in the "professional" journalism herd paid heed. Now, with a grand jury investigation on the horizon, everyone's a Johnny-come-lately debunker.

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If you are puzzled by the nationwide rape kit testing backlog, Oklahoma provides maddening insight on the bureaucratic forces that create intolerable inertia -- and injustice.

An estimated 225,000 rape kits have gone unprocessed across the country; more than 7,200 have been neglected in Oklahoma. Last month, a woman who reported an Oklahoma City sexual assault to police back in 2011 discovered that her rape kit had gathered dust on a shelf in Tulsa's police department for seven years -- after the Oklahoma County district attorney had informed her he was dropping the case because no rape kit existed.

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Crying "hate" is a lazy way to debate. But in the Beltway, where honest discussion and vigorous deliberation are desperately needed, the rhetorical sloth is so thick you need a Big Foot circular saw to cut it.

Take Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, who thrust a Liberian immigrant, Linda Clark, into the limelight as her State of the Union special guest and poster child. "She has lived here over 18 years," Rep. Omar lamented, "and there's no reason she should be taken from her family." Ahead of the annual address to Congress on Tuesday, Rep. Omar blasted President Donald Trump for "threatening to deport" Clark and "thousands of Liberians for no reason other than hate."

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Here we go again. If you think the manure-spreaders of sensationalism who masquerade as ethical practitioners of journalism learned anything from last week's MAGA-bashing Covington Catholic High School hoax, I have three words for you:

Ha, ha, ha.

On Tuesday morning, uncorroborated claims by actor Jussie Smollett that he was the victim of a "brutal" hate crime by Trump supporters in Chicago went viral across social media. Entertainment rag TMZ.com first splashed "exclusive" headlines that the "Empire" cast member was "beaten by MAGA backers" in a "homophobic attack" at around 2 a.m. in Chicago. If you have no idea what "Empire" is or who Smollett is, join the club. The TV star is apparently a vocal critic of Trump and attacked "45 and all his white hooded cohorts" on Instagram last week.

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Sometimes, a three-point celebration is just a three-point celebration. Sometimes, a pep rally is just a pep rally. Sometimes, a smile is just a smile. And sometimes, a hat is just a hat.

Only among the most deranged partisans could a universal sports ritual, a common high school activity, a typical teen face and patriotic headgear be construed as evil symbols of patriarchal oppression.

These, however, are the soul-sapping, lunacy-inducing times in which we live.

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Mike Scruggs