Right-wing media personalities and public figures immediately set about defending the 17-year-old charged with killing two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this week, treating the alleged gunman as a conservative hero of sorts.
- MarketWatch noted that “Fox News host Tucker Carlson, right-wing commentator Ann Coulter, and former San Francisco Giants player Aubrey Huff all defended” Kyle Rittenhouse, be it on social media or television.
- Responses from the conservative trio “shocked many on social media for appearing to justify the killing of fellow Americans,” the publication wrote.
- Huff called Rittenhouse “a national treasure” in a since-deleted tweet. Coulter tweeted, “I want him as my president,” though her post was removed by Twitter for violating its community standards.
- Carlson suggested that Rittenhouse likely felt he “had to maintain order when no one else would.”
And Carlson devoted air time on his Wednesday evening program to ask, “How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?” He argued that the Kenosha authorities were responsible for abandoning the city, and “refused to enforce the law.”
Carlson added that local law enforcement “stood back and watched Kenosha burn” over the last few days. “So are we really surprised that looting and arson accelerated to murder?”
- “All three provocateurs saw their names trending on Twitter on Thursday morning, with many viewers and readers expressing concern that their comments could incite even more violence,” MarketWatch noted.
- Some called on Carlson’s advertisers to drop his show and suggested boycotts of companies that failed to back out.
The show of support for Rittenhouse is reminiscent of the right-wing response to George Zimmerman, who fatally shot Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, on February 26, 2012.
- Salon noted in 2013 that Zimmerman “found devoted defenders on the airwaves of Fox News and in the digital pages of conservative blogs.”
[Fox News host Sean] Hannity and others have sought to portray Zimmerman as the real victim here, of a left-wing media "lynch mob," a term used by Ann Coulter, Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips, David Horowitz, and conservative watchdog Accuracy in the Media, among others. When NBC aired an edited 911 call that made Zimmerman look racist, that was all the proof conservatives needed.
"So the question is why are we here? And the answer to that question is purely political. Politics influenced the decision, the media influenced the decision," Hannity said, succinctly revealing why the conservative media has found itself vocally defending someone who admitted to killing teenager Trayvon Martin. It goes like this: Liberals and the media made hay out of the fact that Zimmerman was initially not charged in the killing of Martin. Liberals and the media are bad. Therefore, Zimmerman must be good.
- Simultaneously, “conservative blogs set to work painting Martin as a dangerous thug.”
- “At times, things have gotten ridiculous. Fox News even recently speculated that Martin could probably kill someone with the Skittles bag and Arizona Iced Tea bottle he was carrying,” Salon wrote at the time.