How hard is this?
Kyle Rittenhouse, a white teenager from Illinois who traveled to a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wis., where he brandished a military-style semi-automatic rifle, was acquitted Friday of homicide and attempted homicide charges after arguing that he shot his three victims — two of them fatally — in self-defense.
The case spawned a bitter national debate over whether Rittenhouse is a white supremacist vigilante who essentially provoked his victims, or whether he intended to help protect Kenosha businesses from out-of-control protesters and only fired to defend himself.
The single most important fact about the Rittenhouse case is that he, a white kid, brought the type of semi-automatic rifle used in most mass shootings to a protest for Black lives that offended him. That’s why the case so important.
The key questions before the nation – though, admittedly, not necessarily in front of the jury – were whether vigilantism would get a green light in this country, and whether white supremacy would be held accountable.
But I have been absolutely gobsmacked at how hard corporate media outlets are working to obfuscate that central fact — which leads to the inescapable conclusion that he brought this on himself. They are leaving it entirely out of the tops of stories that instead make it sound like the shootings just sort of happened during a night of “violent” protest.
That’s journalistic malpractice.
Rittenhouse “fatally shot two men and wounded another amid protests and rioting over police conduct in Kenosha, Wis.,” wrote Julie Bosman in the New York Times.
They were simply “August 2020 shootings in Kenosha, Wis.,” according to the Washington Post. The Post did somehow find room to bizarrely assert that the “trial has revived nationwide scrutiny of Kenosha, where Black residents say the same issues that fueled last year’s unrest still persist.”
CNN reported that Rittenhouse had “killed two people and shot another during unrest.”
Here’s Reuters‘s top:
A jury acquitted teenager Kyle Rittenhouse on Friday of murder in the fatal shooting of two men during racial justice protests in a decision that ignited fierce debate about gun rights and the boundaries of self defense in the United States.
USA Today reported:
Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz during often violent protests in the summer of 2020 following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The Associated Press referred to the “deadly Kenosha shootings.”
The AP’s fourth paragraph at least gave a hint of the real issues involved:
The verdict in the politically combustible case was met with anger and disappointment from those who saw Rittenhouse as a vigilante and a wannabe cop, and relief and a sense of vindication from those who regarded him as a patriot who took a stand against lawlessness and exercised his Second Amendment right to carry a gun and to defend himself.
Los Angeles Times wrote:
Kyle Rittenhouse, a teenager who shot and killed two men and wounded another as violent protests against police brutality swept through Kenosha last year, was acquitted of all charges Friday in a closely watched case that has amplified national debate over vigilantism and law and order.
The shootings did not result from violent protests against police brutality. They resulted from one white boy’s decision to bring a killing machine to a protest against police brutality.
Not making that clear at the very top of a news report is deceptive. It is cowardly. It is, apparently, in our corporate media, endemic.