Throughout Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial, most cable news shows and corporate, establishment online media outlets painted the accused teenager as a “white supremacist” bounty hunter instead of what a jury last week determined him to be: someone who was acting in self-defense against violent rioters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer.
The 18-year-old was ultimately acquitted on all charges stemming from the chaos that erupted from street protests on Aug. 25, 2020. Rittenhouse was found not guilty oftwo counts of homicide, one count of attempted homicide and two counts of recklessly endangering safety.
But long before he had a chance to take the stand to defend himself, many in the media had already rushed to judgment.
During an exclusive interview this week with Tucker Carlson, Rittenhouse called the campaign to defame him “sickening and a disgrace.”
Here is a look at some of the biggest of those lies:
- MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Scarborough claimed Rittenhouse was "just running around, shooting and killing protesters." He likened him to an active shooter who “drove across state lines with an AR-15 and started shooting people up.” He also dubbed him a “self-appointed militia member … unloading 60 rounds,” a line that was called out as a lie by the defense in closing arguments.
- MSNBC's Joy Reid slammed Rittenhouse as an "armed teenage vigilante.” She later took to TikTok to mock Rittenhouse’s “male, white tears” after Rittenhouse’s emotional testimony in court, during which he appeared visibly distraught.
- The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur flat-out declared, "He murdered a couple of people."
- Politico fact-checkers said that then-President Donald Trump lied when he said Rittenhouse was trying to get away from protesters and was attacked. Videos backed up Trump’s statements.
- Fact-checkers at The Associated Press also knocked Trump for suggesting Rittenhouse had acted in self-defense.
- NPR criticized Trump for “claiming, without evidence, that it appeared the gunman was acting in self-defense.”
- Esquire accused Rittenhouse of committing “terrorist tourism” because he took a weapon across state lines. The weapon he used was actually kept in a safe at his best friend’s stepfather’s house in Kenosha.
- Joy Behar, comic and co-host of "The View," also claimed Rittenhouse had illegally crossed state lines from Illinois to Wisconsin with a firearm.
- The Independent reported that the people Rittenhouse shot were “three Black men” when all members of the trio were white.
- Multiple media outlets, including MSNBC, began running stories calling Rittenhouse a “white supremacist” after then-presidential candidate Joe Biden ran a video alleging him to be one without offering evidence.
- "CBS Mornings" tweeted during the trial that Rittenhouse had “murdered two men.”
- Right after the incident, USA Today claimed that one of the rioters who was shot may have been “trying to save someone.”
- The Daily Beast called Rittenhouse a “Blue Lives Matter fanatic.”
- The New York Times published an article that claimed Rittenhouse “lionized the police” and his social media showed strong support for officers,” essentially asserting Rittenhouse was trying to act like a cop.
- CNN tweeted that Fox News host Tucker Carlson “justified murder” after saying he wasn’t surprised Rittenhouse tried to “maintain order” by taking up arms during the protests.
- Brian Tyler Cohen, the host of a show called “No Lie,” tweeted that Carlson and those who advertise on his show are “giving cover to a white nationalist who murdered two people.”
- Without naming Rittenhouse, CNN’s Ana Navarro-Cardenas tweeted at Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that “innocent people” are “being targeted and terrorized AND MURDERED by white supremacist teen-agers with big-ass guns” just days after the Kenosha incident.
- The Intercept used the term “white supremacist” multiple times in its story about the Rittenhouse trial.
- Politifact reported it was illegal for Rittenhouse, as a 17-year-old, to carry the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 used in the shootings. It was legal under Wisconsin state law, however, because the barrel was more than 12 inches long.
- MSNBC's Scarborough said Rittenhouse's mother had driven him “across state lines” as riots were erupting in Kenosha. His mother did not drive him. Rittenhouse testified that he went to Kenosha with his sister and friends.
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