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Kyle Rittenhouse regained his freedom in a fair trial. The right to self-defense prevailed. However, the media campaign covering the case was based on misinformation and biased opinions.
Stigmatizing Kyle Rittenhouse and his supporters
Last summer, after Rittenhouse shot three people in self-defense, most of the American liberal media openly attacked the then 17-year-old. Rittenhouse was falsely accused of being a white supremacist and stigmatized for having conservative political-ideological preferences.
The Daily Beast, National Public Radio (NPR), The New York Times and other national news outlets ran stories about Rittenhouse’s “bigotry” toward “Blue Lives Matter,” a movement that supports police officers. The story was fervor in the liberal press that sought to link the case to systemic racism and police violence.
The press also launched criticism against politicians or relevant figures in the conservative world who refused to condemn Rittenhouse. This put the young man in an unpleasant position before the national public, who, imbued with the biased coverage, took aim at the young man’s political ideas such as the right to bear arms.
A clear example came from commentator Brian Tyler Cohen, who criticized Fox News’ Tucker Carlson for “giving cover to a white nationalist who murdered two people.” Tyler Cohen himself attacked former President Donald Trump for not condemning “a white nationalist who murdered two people in cold blood because he attended one of his rallies.”
In the wake of cases like Rittenhouse’s, the media also attacked conservative groups that wanted to protect their cities from the wave of violence during the Black Lives Matter riots. The New York Times, for example, published an article explaining that “demonstrators” were evaluating how to keep themselves safe from these “far-right groups.”
In addition, New York Magazine noted that, “By openly embracing Kyle Rittenhouse as a hero, Republicans make their violent fantasies clear.”
The Washington Post and MSNBC also attacked Donald Trump for defending Rittenhouse. The Associated Press went further and used its “fact-checking” team to say that Trump “erroneously” said Rittenhouse was attacked and that when he stumbled and fell, because his life was in danger, he pulled his gun. In addition to spreading misinformation, AP stated that Trump “spoke in defense of someone who opposed racial-justice protesters, who authorities say was illegally carrying a semi-automatic rifle and who prosecutors accuse of committing intentional homicide.” None of those claims are true.
Another fact-checking agency that spread misinformation was PolitiFact, who said it was false that Rittenhouse was legally armed.
Using victims to attack Rittenhouse
Anthony Huber, 26, and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, were the men Rittenhouse shot in self-defense. Rosenbaum had a lengthy criminal record for child molestation and Huber had a history of domestic violence. However, the news media took it upon themselves to use the image of these individuals to attack Rittenhouse while ignoring both men’s criminal records in an attempt to generate empathy for the victims and their families.
One of the journalists who used both Huber and Rosenbaum to attack the young man was Ana Navarro-Cárdenas, a commentator and contributor to various liberal media outlets such as CNN, Telemundo and The View. She said that Rittenhouse shed false tears in court and that we should remember the suffering of the victims’ families.
Other media outlets, such as CNN, The Daily Beast and NBC, took it upon themselves to gather statements from victims’ families who had no intention of talking about Rosenbaum or Huber’s past. In fact, Huber was called a hero despite being involved in violent riots and attempting to assault a minor.
The Independent tried to racialize the case by saying that Kyle Rittenhouse had shot three black people. But, all of the people shot by Rittenhouse were white.
Challenging the Justice system
During the trial, several progressive media columnists, such as Issac Bailey on NBC News and Ja’han Jones on MSNBC, pushed the matrix that Kyle Rittenhouse had already won this case, even before the trial is over. Jones called the young man a great actor, also accused the jury of being “exclusively white” and the trial of being theater “with a cast of characters who are seemingly meant to vindicate conservatives’ violent hero worship.”
After the verdict, the situation did not change much. The media ignored in their articles and headlines the key word of this trial: self-defense.
The vast majority of the national media labeled Rittenhouse as the acquitted man who “murdered two people.” The international press not only echoed the national coverage, but went further, calling the jury’s decision “controversial” and calling Rittenhouse a “supremacist.”
But there were also several criticisms regarding the coverage of the Rittenhouse case. Writer and commentator Drew Holden posted a lengthy thread on Twitter analyzing the headlines and tweets from the nation’s major media outlets.
Bari Weiss, The New York Times‘ expert reporter, also analyzed how the media covered the case. Likewise, conservative media such as the New York Post or The Spectator World published several columns against the mainstream media.
The traditional American press is going through a major crisis of confidence. Today, most Americans, especially conservatives, do not trust the national press, as many believe that they lie on purpose simply to benefit a political party or ideology.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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