Will Rittenhouse’s representations in the media lead to another day in court?

The next chapter in the Kyle Rittenhouse story, at least from a public perspective, will almost certainly be about his legal team filing multiple lawsuits against media outlets and political figures who declared him to be everything from racist to guilty before he began his judgment.

Many of the defamatory statements against the 18-year-old former defendant, who was acquitted of all charges on November 19, have the same theme: Rittenhouse’s actions were those of a crazed white supremacist. The charges came (and continue to come) even though Rittenhouse, who is white, shot three other targets and killed two. And yet …

The Associated Press even verified the facts then …President TrumpDonald Trump Rittenhouse Says Biden Slandered His Character By Linking Him To White Supremacists Night Health Care: White House Touts Vaccination Rate For Feds Trump Backs Hogan Challenger In Maryland Governor Race MORE for defending Rittenhouse by saying it appeared that Rittenhouse had acted in self-defense, adding that the teenager “opposed the protesters for racial justice” without mentioning that some of those protesters had attacked him.

CBS News even convicted Rittenhouse in the court of public opinion before the trial ended, saying he had “murdered” two men. (“Murder” is a legal term; “murdered” was the objective and appropriate term). The network subsequently deleted the tweet after considerable backlash.

So Rittenhouse has a libel case? Is there a recent precedent?

Enter Sandmann, meaning former Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann, who wrote in a Daily Mail op-ed that Rittenhouse should file a libel lawsuit. Sandmann is the teenager who sued CNN and the Washington Post for $ 275 million and $ 250 million, respectively, for portraying him in their reporting as a racist, following his interaction with a Native American man at the 2019 March for Life rally in Washington. . DC

“Them [the media] It came quickly, without hesitation, because Kyle was an easy target that they could paint the way they wanted, ”Sandmann wrote earlier this month. “This is the problem with the liberal media in America. They want to get the story first, get the most views, make the most money, and promote the liberal backers agenda. “

“So every label of Kyle as a ‘terrorist’, ‘white supremacist’ and ‘school shooter’ on the streets of Kenosha, will only be removed after the damage has been done,” Sandmann added.

CNN and the Post settled with the Kentucky teenager for undisclosed amounts.

If Sandmann managed to force a deal from two of the most prominent media organizations in the country, why couldn’t Rittenhouse achieve the same result? A settlement is the most likely outcome when lawsuits are filed, because media organizations hate being the focus of bad press, bad public relations.

Examples are plentiful in the media portraying Rittenhouse as a white supremacist and convicting him of murder. The last thing any news organization should want is for those clips to be played over and over again on social media and elsewhere, which is what would happen if a high-profile suit moved forward.

Some politicians may also be subject to libel lawsuits, including President BidenJoe BidenRittenhouse says Biden defamed his character when he linked him to white supremacists Man charged with threatening Congress sentenced to 19 months in prison 91 House Democrats ask Senate to expand immigration protections in the U.S. bill Biden expenses PLUS, who during the 2020 presidential campaign tweeted a photo of Rittenhouse grouping him with torch-carrying white supremacists.

“President Biden said some things, I think they are very incorrect and false, he is not a white supremacist,” Rittenhouse’s attorney, Mark Richards, said after his client was acquitted.

Prominent Democrats also piled high before and after the trial:

Kyle Rittenhouse is not a hero, despite some Republican congressmen trying to turn it into one. His own attorney says Rittenhouse should not have gone to the riot-turned protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, something Rittenhouse now says he deeply regrets doing:

But none of that excuses the way the media handled this case: myopically making race and racism central and ignoring the presumption of innocence accorded to all defendants. And despite Rittenhouse’s acquittal, he will find it difficult to shed the image of the teenager as a violent racist.

Will Rittenhouse and his lawyers hold the media accountable for acting so irresponsible? We will likely find out sooner rather than later.

Joe Concha is a political and media columnist for The Hill.


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