Fox News host Tucker Carlson described the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse as ‘a wonderful moment,’ praising the jury and insisting it was a day to celebrate – as left-leaning news anchors described it as a sorry moment in U.S. history.
Carlson, who on Monday will broadcast the first televised interview with Rittenhouse, showed his producers in the car with Rittenhouse as they drove away from the courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Friday afternoon.
Rittenhouse, 18, was acquitted by a jury on Friday of all five charges stemming from the death of two protesters, shot and killed by Rittenhouse on August 25, 2020.
At the end of the two-week trial the jury decided that Rittenhouse acted in self defense amid chaotic scenes, with riots in the city sparked by the police shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake.
‘The jury reached the correct verdict,’ Rittenhouse told Carlson’s team.
‘Self defense is not illegal. I am glad they reached the correct verdict.’
The teenager added: ‘It’s been a tough journey but we made it through.
‘We made it through the hard part.’
Carlson, one of Rittenhouse’s strongest champions, praised the jury for their ‘enormous moral courage’ and described it as ‘a significant day in U.S. history.’
Tucker Carlson described the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse as ‘a wonderful moment’
Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty on all counts. The verdict came in at 12.15pm Friday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, leading to fears that the city might once again erupt in violence
As the first verdict was read, Rittenhouse, 18, started to shake as he fought back tears. But by the end he could hold them no longer and he collapsed into his chair then hugged defense attorney Corey Chirafisi
On other networks, the response was distinctly different.
Chris Cuomo, on CNN, said that Rittenhouse had been ‘weaponized’ by Carlson, who he described as ‘one of the most toxic and divisive people in our society’.
Cuomo said he thought the verdict was right, however.
‘While he was not guilty, it was wrong and hurtful and people are dead and we shouldn’t be celebrating,’ Cuomo said.
‘The law rules. And the law here is the bad guy. That self defense law is pitiful. He was allowed to carry that rifle under the law.’
His CNN colleague Don Lemon said: ‘We should respect the justice system in Kenosha. The laws that are in place are the main reason he was acquitted.
‘It is hard to separate race from this case. It may not be the main issue, but it was there.’
He later added: ‘Race is definitely a part of this.’
Both Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo on CNN agreed that it was the correct verdict, but said they were dismayed with the way the laws worked
Chuck Todd, a host on MSNBC, said that he felt the verdict emboldened people to carry guns at protests.
‘The next time there’s a protest of some sort, and it may get politicized, that gun owners, with a certain ideology may feel incentivized now, may feel even emboldened,’ Todd said.
‘Anyone who supports Black Lives Matter should be very afraid after this,’ said Joy-Ann Reid, another MSNBC host.
Nicolle Wallace attempted to put Rittenhouse in the same category as domestic terrorists.
‘The Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal today – not guilty on all counts – did not happen in a cultural vacuum,’ she said.
‘There’s alarming context to this moment we’re considering and talking about.
‘Last week, the department of homeland security released its latest bulletin warning Americans, again, of the ongoing threat posed by domestic violent extremists.
‘We should also point out conservative media for many, many months have been priming its audience for this moment, framing Rittenhouse as a hero.’
Rachel Maddow on MSNBC was muted in her response to the verdict
Carlson accused the Left of having ‘endorsed mob violence’ and said Rittenhouse was a patriot protecting his father’s home town.
‘The jury confirmed what was obvious from the very beginning,’ said Carlson.
‘It was a wonderful moment.’
He said it showed that ‘propaganda doesn’t always win. Today it was soundly defeated – thank God.’
And he criticized rival networks for their framing of the trial in racial terms.
‘It doesn’t have anything to do with anything,’ Carlson said.
‘But it’s been a fixation of the Democratic party.
‘They try to racialize everything,’ he said, accusing them of ‘trying to whip people into a frenzy’.
Carlson’s team were with Rittenhouse as he left the courthouse a free man, and spoke to him as he drove away from the courthouse
Immediately after the verdict was read, Rittenhouse was whisked out of the courtroom and into a waiting SUV
His guest, Brazil-based journalist Glenn Greenwald, remarked that three of Brazil’s top newspapers had to apologize for referring to Rittenhouse’s victims as being black.
Sean Hannity, also on Fox News, responded: ‘My message to Kyle Rittenhouse tonight: sue them all, starting with the president.
‘This was a clear cut case of self-defense. We do not operate under mob rule.
‘If anyone at fake news CNN or MSNBC had an ounce of decency they would apologize. They are con artists. They are always wrong; they always rush to judgement.’
Sean Hannity on Friday night showed scenes of a protest against the verdict in Brooklyn, New York, and told Rittenhouse he should sue his critics
Hannity’s guest, Miranda Devine, said that the case was ‘a modern day To Kill a Mockingbird,’ and that Rittenhouse’s lawyer was Atticus Finch.
She said it was about a poor, ‘defenseless’ man who took on the system.
‘That poor kid,’ she said.
‘My heart went out to him. I really hope he can get on with his life.
‘He deserves to be vindicated, and allowed to get on with his life.’
Left-wing response to Rittenhouse’s acquittal
Cori Bush, a congresswoman for Missouri and member of ‘The Squad’ described Rittenhouse’s acquittal as ‘white supremacy in action’.
‘This system isn’t built to hold white supremacists accountable,’ she said.
‘It’s why Black and brown folks are brutalized and put in cages while white supremacist murderers walk free.
‘I’m hurt. I’m angry. I’m heartbroken.’
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez agreed, tweeting: ‘What we are witnessing is a system functioning as designed and protecting those it was designed for.’
Fellow Squad member Ayanna Pressley added: ‘Racism & white supremacy remain the bedrock of our legal system. My heart breaks for the family & loved ones of those whose lives were stolen, and the trauma our communities face today and every day.
‘The struggle for accountability, for justice, for healing goes on.’
The head of the House Progressive Caucus, Pramila Jayapal, said: ‘I’m heartbroken.
‘If we’re ever going to tackle racial injustice in America, we have to admit our justice system isn’t working for Black, brown and Indigenous people. Then, we have to transform it.
‘It won’t be easy but I’m committed to organizing alongside you to make it happen.’
Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, said that ‘to call this a miscarriage of justice is an understatement.’
He tweeted: ‘Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum are victims. They should be alive today.
‘The only reason they’re not is because a violent, dangerous man chose to take a gun across state lines and start shooting people.’