Media outlets are giving a wholly slanted snapshot of the proceedings at the Kyle Rittenhouse trial — which could be devastating if he's acquitted.
Rittenhouse is accused of fatally shooting Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and injuring Gaige Grosskreutz, at a Kenosha, Wisconsin, Black Lives Matter protest. The then-17-year-old claimed that he only shot in self-defense when they each chased him and he feared for his life.
But things haven't been working out very well for the prosecution.
Prosecutors called Grosskreutz Monday as one of their final witnesses, who provided some of the trial's most spell-binding testimony.
On direct examination he testified that although he feared for his life, he never attempted to harm Rittenhouse.
On cross examination, defense counsel asked, "It wasn't until you pointed your gun at him, advanced on him, with the gun in your hand pointed at him, that he fired, right?"
Grosskreutz replied, "Correct."
At that point a member of the prosecution team dropped his head into his hand, knowing that this admission was ruinous to their case. But that's not how media portrayed it.
CBS News reported, "Lone survivor shot by Kyle Rittenhouse at Kenosha protests testifies he thought he 'was going to die.'"
NBC 5 News Chicago ran with the headline, "Shooting Victim at Rittenhouse Trial Said He Thought He 'Was Going to Die.'" It described Grosskreutz as "a paramedic" who "volunteered as a medic at protests in Milwaukee."
The Associated Press was a bit more balanced but still skewered.
It tweeted, "Gaige Grosskreutz, who had a gun in hand when he approached Kyle Rittenhouse at a protest against racial injustice, testified that he went to the protest to be a medic and that he carried a loaded gun because he believes in gun rights."
The Daily Beast tweeted, "The man who survived being shot by Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last August testified on Monday that he never tried to kill the heavily-armed teenager. In fact, he said at the teen's murder trial, he was actually trying to surrender to him."
The prosecution faced problems before the trial even got underway. The judge refused to allow them to refer to the three individuals Rittenhouse shot as "victims," but permitted the defense to refer to them as "rioters," "looters," and "arsonists" at trial as long as they provided evidence.
Later Monday the prosecution called Kenosha Police Detective Ben Antaramian. He said that "I would agree with that statement" that "The only people that he fired at were people that had either kicked him, hit him with something, or pulled a gun on him when he's running down Sheridan Road."
Other witnesses called by the prosecution offered similar testimony, with one recalling that Rosenbaum told both him and Rittenhouse, "if I catch any of you guys alone tonight I'm going to f**king kill you."
Throughout the trial, cable news and online outlets painted Rittenhouse as something akin to a bounty hunter. For example:
• An MSNBC contributor said "he was going out to shoot people."
• MSNBC's Joy Reid called him an "armed teenage vigilante."
• The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur flat out claimed, "He murdered a couple of people."
• MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Scarborough said Rittenhouse was "just running around, shooting and killing protesters."
The descriptions continued in that vein, with many describing the teen as being racist, radicalized by former President Donald Trump.
Here's the problem. Because much of the media reports have been heavily slanted against Rittenhouse, what's going to happen if he's acquitted? And each day it looks more like acquittal is not just possible, but even probable.
Would that touch off a new round of riots — buildings burned, stores looted, police precincts trashed, and innocent victims injured or even killed?
And what will happen to the jury if it acquits Rittenhouse?
Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder announced at the start of proceedings Tuesday that police caught someone attempting to take videos of the jury members.
"At pickup, there was someone there and video recording the jury, which officers approached the person and required [them] ... to delete the video and return the phone to him," Schroeder said. "I've instructed that if it happens again, they are to take the phone and bring it here."
But it may have been too late. The video could have gone directly to the cloud.
And finally, what about Rittenhouse? What would his life be worth in this hyper-partisan period of American history?
Mark Hemingway, senior writer at RealClearInvestigations, compared this to an earlier incident — Nicholas Sandmann, the Covington Catholic high school student accused of disrespecting a Native American.
"This is Covington territory — a number of these comments are straight up libel," he said. "If Rittenhouse is acquitted and gets a lawyer, those people should be nervous."
Never mind a lawyer. He may need a bodyguard.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. Read Dorstewitz's Reports — More Here.
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