Everyone seems to have an opinion about Kyle Rittenhouse. Yesterday evening, November 22, the 18-year-old had a chance to speak for himself via Fox News on Tucker Carlson Tonight. Carlson scored the interview of the year with Mr. Rittenhouse and made the most of his airtime. The activist media has portrayed Rittenhouse as a right-wing white supremacist and has openly spread inaccurate information about the young man who was tried and acquitted of murder charges by a Kenosha, Wisconsin, jury last week. Now it was time for Rittenhouse to tell all — and tell he did.
The defense argued that Rittenhouse, who was 17 years old at the time, acted in self-defense. A Wisconsin jury agreed, but the Illinois teen’s mischaracterization by activist media outlets sparked civil unrest from New York to California.
A Cascade of Lies
In his introduction, Carlson called the media coverage of the young man a “tapestry of lies.” Appearing in a gray suit, a much cooler and more collected Rittenhouse than the one we saw on the witness stand recounted the events of August 25, 2020, in painstaking detail. “I agree with the BLM movement; I agree that everyone has the right to protest and assemble, but I don’t … appreciate that people are burning down American cities.”
Regarding his arrest and prosecution, he said, “I didn’t know I was going to be arrested for defending myself because everything was on video. Part of the reason I think I was arrested was because of the mob mentality.” Carlson pointed out that the videos ultimately helped prove the night’s events were as Rittenhouse described them.
Sounding young and somewhat naive, Rittenhouse did manage to land a few punches: “To be honest, Tucker, this case has nothing to do with race. It never had anything to do with race. It had to do with the right to self-defense,” he asserted.
He decried what he termed “a lot of prosecutorial misconduct, not just in my case but in other cases, and it’s just amazing to see how much a prosecutor can take advantage of someone. If they did this to me, imagine what they could have done to a person of color who maybe doesn’t have the resources I do or is not widely publicized like my case.”
Responding to Carlson’s query about the president calling Rittenhouse a white supremacist when he was a candidate, the teenager responded with lawyerly language: “It’s actual malice, defaming my character for him to say something like that.”
Rittenhouse was contemptuous of the media, saying, “The lies that they can just get away with spreading is just sickening, and it’s a disgrace to this country.” And he recognized how much larger this trial was than himself: “It wasn’t Kyle Rittenhouse on trial in Wisconsin. It was the right to self-defense on trial.”
The Swords Will Be Out
It’s likely the civil lawsuits will be flying fast and furious on both sides of the political aisle. Mr. Rittenhouse could sue his detractors à la Nicholas Sandmann just as the families of those who perished that August night may want to sue him. As John Dutton of the Paramount mega-hit series Yellowstone put it, “Lawyers are the swords of this century. Words are weapons now. I need you to learn how to use ’em.” But for now, Kyle Rittenhouse has had both his day in court and his say about who he is and why he acted as he did.
~ Read more from Leesa K. Donner.