Videos by OutKick
Last Friday, a Wisconsin jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse on all five charges of murder and endangering public safety. Despite immense outside pressure to convict him, a jury of his peers admitted the obvious, that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense when he shot Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, and Gaige Grosskreutz in the summer of 2020.
The verdict was a win for justice and the American judicial system. At the same time, the verdict was a referendum on the media, which worked tirelessly to mislead the country about what happened between Rittenhouse and the three men who attacked him.
And the media’s crusade continues. From Friday afternoon to Monday morning, the media warned Americans that the Rittenhouse jury acquitted a murderer, encouraged violence, acted in coded racism, and endangered a country already doomed because of evil white men.
The following are not paraphrased exaggerations, but actual published statements:
“Kyle Rittenhouse trial was designed to protect white conservatives who kill,” MSNBC immediately wrote following the verdict.
“There’s nothing more frightening in America today than an angry white man,” CNN published hours after the jury set Rittenhouse free.
“Anyone who supports Black Lives Matter should be very afraid tonight,” said overt racist Joy Reid.
Comments like these have gone on for days with the implicit goal of convincing audiences that they are in danger, that a Rittenhouse is looming around every corner, and that white supremacists are coming for them. While all those implications are a lie, they are also a distraction from the real threat: the people framing Rittenhouse as a murderer.
Danger does not merely come from acts of violence but from fear, desperation, confusion, and hate — four feelings the media incites within its audience.
To understand the media’s role in the Kyle Rittenhouse case, you must go back to the beginning, before Rittenhouse picked up the AR-15 that he had stored at his friend’s house in Kenosha. If you recall, riots had broken out and Kenosha buildings burned after the media purposely inflamed the narrative regarding a criminal named Jacob Blake in order to normalize lawlessness.
“Please, show me where it says protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful,” CNN’s primetime anchor Chris Cuomo preached at the time.
Rioters in Kenosha reacted to a belief that white officers committed a crime by shooting an “unarmed” Jacob Blake. The Washington Post — and you can check this — posted a viral tweet calling Blake an “unarmed” black man.
Except he wasn’t “unarmed.” Places like CNN, MSNBC, CBS, and ABC rarely informed viewers that a woman Blake had sexually assaulted had called the police when he violated a restraining order and showed up at her house and wielded a knife in an attempt to kidnap a child. Even after the police arrived, Blake still refused to drop the knife in his possession. So police shot him.
Such context would likely have caused some BLM rioters to reconsider their anger at the supposedly unjust system. It may have steered some looters away from destroying public property. But without that information, viewers felt desperate. They believed the lie about systemic racism within the American criminal justice system. Meanwhile, most BLM “protesters” took advantage of this ignorance and rioted in the city.
Enter Kyle Rittenhouse, a teenager who tried to protect the city, private property, and himself when law enforcement would not.
Since that fateful day when Rittenhouse shot rioters in self-defense, most journalists and television hosts have fomented a growing distaste for our country and its founding. The brighter minds in the corporate press knew from the start that a jury would likely find Rittenhouse not guilty on all or most charges, but they didn’t care. The Rittenhouse shooting gave them an opportunity to strike a fatal blow against the American way, and they weren’t about to let it pass by.
Because most in the media knew the baselessness of the charges against Rittenhouse, they decided to do two things in the hopes of securing a conviction. First, they tried to intimidate the jury into a bogus verdict. According to a police report, an NBC producer even tried to photograph jurors to bully them into voting the correct way. Second, the media lied about the case repeatedly in the hopes of convincing the public that Kyle Rittenhouse didn’t deserve to live a normal life ever again. That way, if the jury didn’t ruin Rittenhouse’s life, the media would.
And it’s doing its best to do so, even now that he’s been acquitted.
Cable news anchors continue to present Rittenhouse as — what else? — a white supremacist. On Saturday, an MSNBC host called Rittenhouse a “little murderous white supremacist” and said that anyone who agreed with his acquittal was a “white supremacist” too.
If radicals like Tiffany Cross, Joy Reid, and Rex Chapman ever had to explain why Rittenhouse is a white supremacist, they’d likely say that he’s a white guy who likes guns and supports the police. In their eyes, that is what “white supremacy” is, having white skin color and a fondness for the Second Amendment and the police. They also know that this definition will stir the emotions of Rittenhouse’s supporters, and nothing furthers emotion like painting the system as hopelessly racist.
Worst of all, the media has failed to do its job. A journalist has three key responsibilities: to inform, to ask questions, and to hold people accountable. Reporters did none of the three during the Rittenhouse case.
Both the law and the American legal system are complex. Most Americans do not understand either of them fully, which is one reason why the accused, no matter the charges against them, are entitled to an attorney. Because most Americans don’t comprehend the law and the legal nuances of, in particular, the Rittenhouse case, they look to the media for information to help them form a reaction. Yet the media deliberately failed to keep up its end of the bargain.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of the 1619 Project, claims the verdict proves that “in this country, you can even kill white people and get away with it if those white people are fighting for black lives. This is the legacy of 1619.”
In actuality, the trial’s outcome proves that, despite its flaws, the U.S. offers the greatest judicial system ever created. The Rittenhouse verdict was not about race, implicit bias, undue sympathy for a young man, or a rogue judge — it was about reasonable doubt.
New York Mag summarizes Wisconsin self-defense law thusly:
In Wisconsin, as in most U.S. states, the prosecution bears the burden of disproving self-defense claims beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, at his trial, Rittenhouse did not need to prove that each shooting in Kenosha was an act of self-defense; the prosecution needed to prove that this was not the case.
Under Wisconsin law, you can kill people in self-defense if you reasonably believe that doing so is necessary to spare yourself or others from imminent bodily harm or death. This belief need not be accurate. Nor must it be reasonable from an objective perspective. It only needs to be reasonable from the subjective point of view of the shooter in the moment he or she pulls the trigger.
The jury did not find Rittenhouse to be a hero, nor did their verdict make a statement about race relations in America. That wasn’t their job. The jury’s role was to determine whether Kyle Rittenhouse intended to commit acts of violence against the Kenosha community. And it found reasonable doubt — an eminently reasonable conclusion to reach since Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse, Huber attacked him with a skateboard and then reached for his weapon, and Grosskreutz testified that he pointed a handgun in his face.
The jury could not say that Rittenhouse did not act in self-defense beyond a shadow of a doubt. That determination should be the lede, not a bottom-of-the-hour side note on NBC News. It would ease the temperature in America and create understanding and discourage outrage. You’d think the media would want cooler heads to prevail since most media personalities remain in a state of dismay because the QAnon Shaman wore a goofy Viking hat at the Capitol nearly a year ago.
Kyle Rittenhouse isn’t a threat to the country. Nor is the right to self-defense. But the media is. Corporate media actively attempts to convince viewers that they are helpless victims in an irredeemably inhumane system. Its goal is to make people so desperate that it causes chaos, and sometimes violence.
This industry is dangerous. It’s making the county desperate, hateful, misinformed, and afraid. It is to blame for the carnage in Kenosha, not some teenager acting in self-defense.