Where do you go to get your reputation back?
Kyle Rittenhouse may be justified in asking that question after he was found not guilty on all charges in the shooting of three men in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 25, 2020.
If one had listened to some of the most prominent voices on America’s political left over the last 15 months, they may — understandably — be shocked by the jury’s decision.
Because that’s not the story that they were told.
According to Joe Biden, the progressive ‘Squad’ and many in the liberal media, Rittenhouse was a ‘white supremacist,’ a ‘domestic terrorist,’ a vigilante and a cold-blooded killer.
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, apparently didn’t think a fair hearing was even necessary.
‘Lock up Kyle Rittenhouse and throw away the key,’ he declared on Twitter as the murder trial was underway.
Now in the aftermath of the verdict, there are calls from across the political spectrum to recognize that an 18-year-old was potentially smeared and many misled by the most influential people in America.
Prominent voices on the left, including then-presidential nominee Joe Biden (left), the progressive ‘Squad’ (top right) and the liberal media (bottom right), branded him a ‘white supremacist,’ ‘domestic terrorist’ and a vigilante, respectively.
‘Don’t forget the candidate for the U.S. president himself last year prior to the election called Kyle Rittenhouse a white supremacist,’ said David Hancock, a spokesman for Rittenhouse, on November 9 on Fox News.
‘Joe Biden called him a white supremacist; that is appalling. I can’t even gauge how wrong that is,’ he said in reference to a 2020 Biden-Harris campaign video tweeted by the then-nominee.
The video shows alleged white supremacists carrying torches in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a 2017 Unite the Right rally sparked by plans to remove statues of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
A picture of Rittenhouse holding a rifle in Kenosha is shown. Audio of Fox News host Chris Wallace plays under the image. One can hear Wallace questioning President Trump over his alleged refusal to condemn ‘white supremacists and militia groups.’
The suggestion was clear — Rittenhouse is a ‘white supremacist.’
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough (left) claimed Rittenhouse fired ’60 rounds’ before walking back the remark as a mistake. ‘The View’s’ Joy Behar (right) repeated the false claim that Rittenhouse illegally crossed state lines with a weapon
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (left) condemned ‘vigilantes’ who corrupted ‘peaceful protests’ in the context of discussing Rittenhouse. CNN’s Don Lemon (right) characterized the case as an example of white vigilantism
‘President Biden don’t know my son whatsoever. He’s not a white supremacist,’ insisted Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show on November 10.
‘He’s not a racist. And [Biden] did that for the votes. And I was so angry for a while at him and what he did to my son, he defamed him.’
An investigation by the Anti-Defamation League appeared to back-up Wendy Rittenhouse.
The ADL reportedly telling CBS News that they found no indication in Rittenhouse’s social media footprint of any connection to extremist groups.
Additionally, the phrase ‘white supremacist’ or even the words ‘extremist,’ ‘racist’ or bigot’ were not mentioned a single time in the prosecution’s closing argument.
It was not part of their case — presumably, there was no evidence to support the allegation.
Unfortunately for Rittenhouse, in the weeks and months leading up to his trial that ugly characterization stuck.
Democracy Now! drew a parallel between the Rittenhouse case and the trial of three white men accused of chasing down and murdering Ahmaud Arbery, a black man, in Brunswick, Georgia on February 23, 2020.
More than a year after Biden’s tweet, the news outlet Democracy Now! ran the headline, ‘White Supremacy on Trial: From Rittenhouse in Kenosha to Killers of Ahmaud Arbery, Will They Go Free?’
Perhaps activist, former Obama administration appointee and MSNBC regular Brittany Packnett Cunningham, summed up the left-wing narrative best on November 13.
According to Cunningham, a legal defense of Rittenhouse is in itself proof of white supremacy.
‘There are only so many acceptable losses that white supremacy is willing to accept,’ she said on MSNBC’s The Cross Connection.
Truth and Lies: Rhetoric of the Kyle Rittenhouse case
LIE: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) claimed that Rittenhouse ‘executed two people.’
TRUTH: The prosecution only charged Rittenhouse with one count of first-degree intentional homicide, for which the jury found him ‘not guilty.’
LIE: Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) tweeted that Rittenhouse is a ‘white supremacist domestic terrorist.’ Then-candidate Biden also suggested that the teen was a white supremacist.
TRUTH: The Anti-Defamation League reportedly determined that there were no connections to extremist movements on Rittenhouse’s social media.
LIE: The Intercept referred to the teen as one of several apparent ‘white supremacist defendants’ in an article exploring the ‘explosive rise of organized white supremacist extremism in the last decade’
TRUTH: The phrases ‘white supremacist,’ ‘extremist,’ ‘racist’ or ‘domestic terrorist’ were not uttered once in the prosecutions’ closing argument.
LIE: Politifact reported that it was illegal for Rittenhouse, as a 17-year-old, to carry the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 used in the shootings.
TRUTH: It was not illegal for Rittenhouse to possess the rifle under state law, as the barrel was over 12 inches long.
LIE: MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said Rittenhouse’s mother drove him ‘across state lines’ as riots erupted in Kenosha.
TRUTH: Rittenhouse testified that he went to Kenosha with his sister and friends.
LIE: ‘The View’s’ Joy Behar claimed Rittenhouse illegally crossed state lines, from Illinois to Wisconsin, with a firearm.
TRUTH: Dominick Black, Rittenhouse’s friend, testified that he stored the weapon used in the incident in his Kenosha home. An Illinois county probe determined Rittenhouse did not travel across state borders with a gun.
LIE: Rep. Jamaal Bowman (R-NY) alleged the Kenosha killings were part of a plot to spark a ‘race war’
TRUTH: This allegation was never backed up reporting or brought up by the prosecution in the course of the trial
‘So if Derek Chauvin is going to jail, you had best believe that Ahmaud Arbery’s murders, and people like Kyle Rittenhouse, are going to be defended with all that this culture has.’
‘Because they have to make sure that the message is sent that white men will continue to control these systems, and that the rest of us should be living in fear.’
Former Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard gave voice to concern over the vitriol directed at Rittenhouse.
‘With no evidence, MSM & antifa-loving politicians immediately labeled Rittenhouse a white supremacist terrorist,’ she tweeted on November 11, using an acronym for the mainstream media.
‘It’s obvious now that [Rittenhouse] was just a foolish kid who felt he needed to protect people & the community from rioters & arsonists because the government failed to do so,’ she concluded after days of courtroom testimony.
Billionaire hedge fund titan and well-known Trump critic, Bill Ackman also took to Twitter to voice his disgust with the media’s portrayal of the case.
Ackman said that after watching hours of testimony, he concluded that the teen is ‘telling the truth and that he acted in self defense’.
Ackman claims his comments supporting Rittenhouse shocked the online community, noting that he received a call from a reporter who he said ‘couldn’t conceive of the idea that I could believe that Kyle is innocent because I am not a right winger’
Then Ackman ripped the news media’s coverage, which he claimed had distorted his understanding of the facts of the case.
‘Our first hand impressions of Kyle were materially different from those we had previously formed based on media reports and opinion pieces,’ he tweeted.
‘I encourage you to watch the trial, or at a minimum his testimony and cross examination, before you form a view of his guilt or innocence.’
But many on the left did not listen to the testimony, let alone the wait for the trial.
On August 26, 2020, hours after the incident in Kenosha, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) urged Biden to ‘condemn the armed militias’ that he believed to be responsible for the bloodshed.
The New York Democrat alleged that ‘domestic terrorists’ sought to provoke a ‘race war’.
Progressive congresswomen Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and IIhan Omar (D-MN) quickly weighed in. Both of them referred to Rittenhouse as a ‘white supremacist’ and a ‘domestic terrorist.’
Omar went so far as to claim that Rittenhouse ‘executed two people.’
Rittenhouse was only charged with one count of first-degree intentional homicide, for which the jury found him ‘not guilty’.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman accused local police of being involved in the shooting that resulted in the deaths of two men in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August 2020
Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) explicitly targeted Rittenhouse in a tweet, referring to him as a ‘white supremacist domestic terrorist.’
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to claim that Rittenhouse’s release was proof of, ‘white supremacy baked deep into our carceral systems.’
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) Chairman of the Democratic Caucus called for the conviction of Kyle Rittenhouse as the teen’s murder trial was underway.
Pressley appeared to call on the media to ‘fix your damn headlines.’
‘A 17-year-old crosses state lines with a military-style firearm, allegedly kills two people in an act of what could only be called terrorist tourism,’ penned a writer for Esquire.
‘White domestic terrorists like Kyle Rittenhouse are held to a different standard,’ wrote Rutgers professor David A. Love for The Grio.
The Intercept identified Rittenhouse as one of several ‘white supremacist defendants’ on trial, in an article focused on ‘the explosive rise of organized white supremacist extremism in the last decade.’
Rittenhouse’s release from jail on a $2 million bond in November 2020 was another triggering event for the left.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said that Rittenhouse’s release was proof of ‘white supremacy baked deep into our carceral systems.’
‘Imagine if Kyle Rittenhouse was Muslim,’ wrote MSNBC opinion columnist Mehdi Hasan, suggesting bigotry at play.
‘Where was he radicalized?’ he asked rhetorically in the piece, appearing to assume that Rittenhouse was at fault.
Then as the Illinois teen’s day in court neared, a ruling from Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder set the left off again.
Schroeder ruled that the prosecution was not allowed to refer to individuals shot by Rittenhouse as ‘victims.’
The judge, however, would allow the defense to refer to ‘rioters’, ‘looters’, and ‘arsonists,’ if evidence showed that those individuals were involved in those activities.
That was too much for far-left Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO).
‘The white supremacist murderer is ‘just a kid’, but the victims who were standing up for Black lives are ‘rioters’, ‘looters’, and ‘arsonists,” tweeted Rep. Cori Bush in reference to Rittenhouse
‘The white supremacist murderer is ‘just a kid’, but the victims who were standing up for Black lives are ‘rioters’, ‘looters’, and ‘arsonists,” she tweeted.
In line with this narrative, many in the media took to framing the case in a way that undermined the position of the Rittenhouse defense team.
‘I defended myself,’ the teen testified at trial, recalling the moments before he shot Joseph Rosenbaum, one of two men he killed that night.
‘He was chasing me, I was alone, he threatened to kill me earlier that night. I didn’t want to have to shoot him,’ he said.
That wasn’t how the media portrayed the circumstances.
‘Teen Vigilante Killed Unarmed Kenosha Protester Who Threw a Plastic Bag at Him: Court Docs,’ blared a Daily Beast headline, several days after the incident.
On November 12, with the trial underway, CNN’s Brianna Keilar drew a parallel between the Rittenhouse case and the trial of three white men accused of chasing down and murdering Ahmaud Arbery, a black man, in Brunswick, Georgia on February 23, 2020.
Keilar argued both cases were examples of ‘white wannabe vigilantism.’
Don Lemon, CNN’s primetime host, agreed, saying Americans are, ‘not supposed to be taking justice into our own hands.’
The commentary seemingly ignoring testimony that suggested that the men who Rittenhouse shot may have been the aggressors.
Rosenbaum, a former Marine, was seen on surveillance camera rushing the teenager, before he was killed.
An eye-witness, Daily Caller reporter Richie McGinniss, testified that Rosenbaum tried to grab Rittenhouse’s gun. Rittenhouse said the same under oath.
Daily Caller reporter Richie McGinniss was an eyewitness to Rittenhouse shooting Joseph Rosenbaum and he reviewed drone footage at trial
McGinniss testified at trial that Rosenbaum attempted to grab Rittenhouse’s weapon
Rosenbaum’s fiancee, Kariann Swart, testified that Rosenbaum was being treated for bipolar disorder and depression. But he had not taken his medication, because the pharmacy had been shuttered by the riots.
The Associated Press reported that Rosenbaum had also recently been released from the hospital after a suicide attempt.
Additionally, Rittenhouse testified that Rosenbaum threatened him earlier that night, as the teen purportedly put out fires started by rioters.
Rosenbaum allegedly threatened, ‘If I catch any of you (expletives) alone I’m going to (expletive) kill you,’ according to Rittenhouse.
Anthony Huber, who was also shot and killed by Rittenhouse, was seen on video hitting Rittenhouse in the head with a skateboard.
Gaige Grosskreutz, who was wounded by the teen, admitted on the witness stand that he was pointing a handgun at Rittenhouse when he fired.
Finally, there have been significant falsehoods introduced in the media commentary surrounding the case.
After prosecutors announced that Rittenhouse would face a misdemeanor underage firearms possession charge claims began circulating on social media, observing that that it was ‘perfectly legal’ for Rittenhouse to possess a rifle ‘without parental supervision.’
Politifact disputed claims that Rittenhouse had not violated Wisconsin law by possessing a rifle in Kenosha. At trial, the misdemeanor underage firearms possession charge was dismissed.
Politifact, a self-described ‘nonpartisan fact-checking website,’ owned by the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit school for journalists, pounced.
Daniel Funke, a staff writer for Politifact, rated that statement as ‘false’ on their ‘Politifact Truth-O-Meter’ and reported that Facebook flagged the post as part of their ‘efforts to combat false news and misinformation…’
However, it appears Rittenhouse’s possession of a rifle may have been, in fact, ‘perfectly legal.’
Judge Schroeder dismissed the charge shortly before closing arguments began after defense lawyers pointed out that the law only applies to short-barreled weapons, less than 12 inches long.
The Smith & Wesson rifle that Rittenhouse carried has a 16-inch barrel.
Congresswoman Pressley tweeted in August 2020 that Rittenhouse illegally transported a weapon ‘across state lines’.
It was a claim also made in news reports at the time. But that reporting was refuted by the Lake County, Illinois State’s Attorney office in an October 2020 statement.
Their investigation found that Rittenhouse did not carry a weapon across state lines.
At trial, a friend of Rittenhouse, Dominick Black, testified that he purchased the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 used in the incident. Black said he stored the weapon in his home in Kenosha.
Black also revealed that he traveled with Rittenhouse to downtown Kenosha, despite media reports that Wendy Rittenhouse had transported her son there.
Unfortunately none of that information never made it to ‘The View’s’ Joy Behar.
‘The guy goes across state lines with an AR-15, with his mother… to defend himself. Against what?’ she claimed on the day Rittenhouse testified.
‘They’re having a protest in another state and he takes it upon himself to go there. And then he says it’s self-defense – no.’
Additionally, the liberal media’s fixation on the fact that Rittenhouse ‘crossed state lines,’ a characterization repeated ad nauseam, ignores critical context.
At the time, Rittenhouse lived with his mother in Antioch, Illinois, which lies on the Illinois-Wisconsin border. Presumably, he regularly ‘crosses state lines’.
The city of Kenosha, Wisconsin is also 20 miles away, and it is where his father lives. Rittenhouse apparently has very good reason to feel a connection to that community.
Not to be left out, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough made a unique contribution to the discussion as the trial wrapped up.
‘He had his mother drive him across state lines, he appointed himself a militia member. He goes around and he ends up unloading — what? — 60 rounds, kills 2 people, wounds a third person…’
The liberal media’s fixation on the fact that Rittenhouse ‘crossed state lines,’ a characterization repeated ad nauseam, ignores critical context. The city of Kenosha, Wisconsin is only approximately 20 miles away from Antioch, and it is where his father lives.
In fact, Rittenhouse fired at least 8 shots. Scarborough later took to Twitter to say he misspoke.
‘This is obviously wrong to anyone following the case for more than a minute. I meant to say he unloaded his rounds in about 60 seconds. Thanks for pointing this out,’ he tweeted.
On Monday, as closing arguments in the Rittenhouse case neared completion, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Biden’s characterization of the teenager as a white supremacist in his campaign video.
After saying that she could not comment on an ‘ongoing trial’, Psaki appeared to get in one last jab.
‘What I can reiterate for you is the president’s view that we shouldn’t have, broadly speaking, vigilantes patrolling our communities with assault weapons,’ she said from the podium of the White House briefing room.
‘We shouldn’t have opportunists corrupting peaceful protests by rioting and burning down the communities they claim to represent anywhere in the country.’
You be the judge of whom she was referring to.