Robin Roberts is opening up about that now-infamous interview she conducted with "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, indicating she was iffy on whether she wanted to conduct 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 during The Cut's "How I Get It Done" event, according to 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."
"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,'" Robin explained on Monday.
In the "Good Morning America" interview, which aired on Feb. 14, Jussie stuck to his story that two men shouted homophobic slurs at him while attacking him in Chicago. Less than a week later, a police spokesman claimed that the whole thing was a hoax orchestrated by Jussie, something the actor continues to deny.
On Feb. 21, Jussie turned himself in to police, and he was arrested for filing a false police report.
Page Six notes that many ABC staffers were skeptical of Jussie's story after the interview, but Robin said she wanted to stay "neutral." She also felt a certain pressure to represent the LGBT community during the highly-anticipated chat.
"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."
The interview was looked at closely again after reports alleged that Jussie paid two men to stage an attack.
"People are looking at the interview through the eyes of 'How did you not know?'" Robin said. "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."
Prior to the interview, Robin carefully selected her questions, as Jussie was still being listed as a victim at the time.
Robin added, "It was one of the most challenging interviews I've ever had to do."