In today’s episode of “How The National Media Deceive You…”
A friend last weekend texted me, “Had no idea Kyle shot 3 white guys. Not that it matters. But it’s been painted as a hate crime.”
My friend — a Democrat and a law student at Berkeley — was referring to the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse. Now, where, oh where, might my friend have gotten the impression that Rittenhouse had shot men who were anything but white as snow?
Well, here’s an example of how the national news media have been covering this saga since last year on that fateful night of rioting in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times began a column this week thusly: “I’ve spent the last couple of weeks riveted by the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the white teenager who shot and killed two people and injured a third during a night of Black Lives Matter protests and civil unrest in Kenosha, Wis., last year.”
That’s interesting. Manjoo believed the race of the shooter was worth mentioning — “the white teenager”! — but apparently thought that demographic detail was uninteresting when it came to the men who were shot. Readers just needed to know that these men were at “a night of Black Lives Matter protests and civil unrest.”
What person wouldn’t come away with anything other than the impression that Rittenhouse shot some black people?
Don’t tell me that’s not on purpose. MSNBC’s Joy Reid similarly said on her prime-time show at the start of the trial that she hoped there was something Rittenhouse’s prosecutors could do to “make sure that this doesn’t wind up being a jury that essentially approximates the Emmett Till jury back in the 1950s.”
Rittenhouse is white. All three men he shot are white. The trial has absolutely nothing to do with racism or that great media fantasy of white supremacy.
Unless you’ve watched the raw video footage of the trial from top to bottom, assume that anything you’ve heard or read about it in the national media is a deception or, at minimum, a willfully naive depiction of what happened last year in Kenosha.
In the spirit of heading into the holidays, I’ll charitably assume Manjoo is a mix of the two and not simply just dumb.
He wrote in the same column that Rittenhouse’s AR-15 at the scene “transformed situations that might have ended in black eyes and broken bones into ones that ended with corpses in the street.”
That’s an echo of the state prosecutor’s closing argument: “Everybody takes a beating sometimes, right? Sometimes you get in a scuffle and maybe you do get hurt a little bit. That doesn’t mean you can just start plugging people with your full-metal jacket, AR-15 rounds.”
Manjoo and the prosecutors hold the belief, or want you to believe they hold the belief, that it was Rittenhouse’s turn to take “a beating” and “get hurt a little bit,” because he showed up where he wasn’t wanted.
That’s not the way self-defense works. It’s not a new concept. When a person is attacked, he can defend himself with force, even deadly force, if he perceives his life or body is under severe threat.
There was no testimony during the entire trial that Rittenhouse started a fight with anyone. The state’s only piece of evidence along those lines wasn’t a witness, but a still image of video footage from hundreds of feet away, zoomed in, which prosecutors claimed show Rittenhouse raising his gun, which they said was an act of provocation.
Manjoo summarized that bit in his column, writing, “The prosecution says the killing began when Rittenhouse pointed his gun at Joseph Rosenbaum, an unarmed, 36-year-old protester, prompting Rosenbaum to run after him in an effort to stop a potential shooting.”
Yes, “the prosecution says” that. But none of their own witnesses did. To the contrary, the state’s original complaint from last year cites an eye-witness, journalist Richie McGinniss, who said he saw Rosenbaum “initially try to engage” Rittenhouse and “trying to get closer” to him. McGinniss was called to the stand by prosecutors, and he told the same version of events as in the complaint.
At that point, Rittenhouse “did a ‘juke’ move and started running.” Others nearby began giving chase after Rittenhouse, who was, according to McGinniss, “trying to evade these individuals,” the complaint says. Rittenhouse had his firearm pointed downward, but Rosenbaum “was trying to grab the barrel of the gun,” according to the complaint, citing McGinniss’s testimony. Rittenhouse then raised the weapon and shot Rosenbaum.
On their side, prosecutors have a theory about a still image as to what happened. On Rittenhouse’s side, he has an independent eye-witness. Manjoo wants his readers to believe those are equally compelling pieces of evidence. They’re not.
We could go on and on addressing every lie and deception spewed from the media hole about this case. The best thing that can come from the Rittenhouse saga, other than an acquittal, is that people like my friend at Berkeley will realize that what they’re being told by the media about race conflict is almost always untrue.