Kyle Rittenhouse, accused of killing two protesters in Kenosha and who claims he did it in self-defense, has lived through two trials awaiting sentencing. The first is the one he is going through in court, and the other is the one he is facing from the media, which is already pointing at him as guilty.
Rittenhouse shot three hostile demonstrators who were causing disturbances in the city while he was guarding businesses that were being vandalized. He claims they started attacking him and that he pulled the rifle in self-defense.
While Rittenhouse tries to defend himself and prosecutors charge him, the judge in the case has come to receive threats and denounce disinformation from the media.
“I will tell you this, I’m going to think long and hard about live television in a trial again, next time, I don’t know. I’ve always been a firm believer in it because I think people should see what’s going on but what’s being done is really quite frightening,” Judge Bruce Schroeder said about the consequences of having televised the controversial case that has become one of the most visible judicial sagas concerning the consequences of the 2020 protests about police and race.
It is the jury that will decide whether Rittenhouse is guilty or not guilty, but many media outlets have sought ways to sway public opinion and even juries.
This Thursday, November 18, journalist and investigator Kristen Barbaresi reported that “someone claiming to be an MSNBC producer was closely following the bus” that was transporting the jurors in the case.
Barbaresi pointed out that the subject was stopped by police after running a red light, was ticketed for violating a traffic control signal, and is now under investigation. He noted that Judge Schroeder said no one from MSNBC will be allowed in the courtroom for the rest of the trial.
El American’s Emmanuel Rondón summarized how the mainstream media has already condemned Rittenhouse with statements that unclearly politicized and polarized the case.
“What the liberal media is doing is dangerous. In the hypothetical case that Rittenhouse is acquitted many people will genuinely believe that the trial was a scam. The feeling of injustice will grow within a sector of society and trust in judicial institutions will be eroded (…) the facts are being left aside and that is unforgivable for the press,” Rondón recalled.
Likewise, Substack writer Bari Weiss, dedicated an article to dismantle the disinformation of the media, which as Judge Schroeder denounces, has been “terrifying.”
Weiss criticized MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough for claiming that Rittenhouse “crossed the state with his mother, had his mother drive him across state lines, named himself a member of the militia, walked around and ended up discharging” the gun.
SHe also criticized CNN’s Bakari Sellars for making similar claims and for erroneously claiming that Rittenhouse was the only person to fire a gun that night.
“To admit that the press, in the main, got just about every key fact in the Rittenhouse case wrong — that he crossed state lines with a gun, that he had the gun illegally, that he had no connection to Kenosha, that he was connected to white supremacist groups — has nothing to do with whether Kyle Rittenhouse should have gone to Kenosha that day. It has nothing to do with where one stands on the question of open carry… Or whether or not a teenager should be allowed to walk around with a semiautomatic rifle,” Weiss wrote.
“No teenager should have been walking around the chaos in Kenosha with a semiautomatic rifle that night. Still, doing so does not forfeit your right to self-defense,” the journalist added.
For Weiss, the “tragedy” that resulted in two deaths and another wounded “could have been avoided” if Wisconsin had maintained the rule of law in the city.
“It did not help that in many places last summer cities and police forces indicated or explicitly said they wouldn’t defend people’s property from destruction or burglary during the unrest,” she said.
“And it didn’t help our understanding of what transpired on August 25 that we were told repeatedly by national media outlets that there weren’t riots, and there wasn’t violence in Kenosha that night until Kyle Rittenhouse discharged his weapon. We could all see the blocks of burning buildings with our own eyes,” she wrote.
This Thursday, Nov. 18, the jury had to pause deliberations after the defense initiated a new motion for a mistrial over a video provided by the prosecution that could prove crucial.
The issue revolved around a video taken with a drone that the prosecution showed the jury during closing arguments where he was allegedly seen pointing his rifle at protesters before the shooting began.
Rittenhouse’s attorney, Corey Chirafisi, said the defense had initially received a more compressed version of the video and had not obtained the higher-quality copy used by the prosecution until the trial’s evidence phase was over.
Chirafisi said the motion for a mistrial would be made “without prejudice,” implying that the prosecution could still retry Rittenhouse.
The defense last week asked for a mistrial with prejudice that implied Rittenhouse could not have been retried. That motion was based on what the defense described as improper questions by prosecutor Thomas Binger during his cross-examination of the defendant.
Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with murder and attempted murder charges for killing two men and wounding a third one with a semi-automatic rifle. He could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted on the more serious charge.