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The exalting of Kyle Rittenhouse reached new heights on Monday evening when Tucker Carlson used his top-rated Fox News prime time program to lavish even more praise on the teenager.
Before airing his interview with Rittenhouse, Carlson declared, “During the course of our long conversation, Kyle Rittenhouse struck us as bright, decent, sincere, dutiful, and hardworking.” Carlson went on to say that Rittenhouse is “exactly the kind of person you would want many more of in your country. He’s not especially political. He never wanted to be the symbol of anything.” Later in the program, Carlson described Rittenhouse as a “sweet kid.”
None of that is particularly surprising, given how Carlson has previously covered the case. But it shows how the dominant sector of right-wing media, led by Carlson, is continuing to work to elevate Rittenhouse as a role model for others. Not only are people like Carlson excusing the general concept of vigilante justice, they are actively encouraging it.
There are some voices in conservative media who have pushed back against this narrative. Notably, Carlson’s Fox News colleague, Gillian Turner, pointed out earlier on Monday that while Rittenhouse was acquitted “he’s not a hero here.” As she said, “There are no heroes, there are no winners. There is no victory lap for Kyle or anybody else to take.”
But Turner’s microphone pales in comparison to Carlson’s. And it’s hard to see the interview Carlson conducted with Rittenhouse, in which he (predictably) attacked the news media and others, as something other than a victory lap…
“I don’t think he is a crazy right-winger”
An hour after Rittenhouse’s interview with arguably the most prominent right-wing conspiracy theorist in the business aired, his attorney, Mark Richards, appeared on CNN and portrayed his client in a different light. Chris Cuomo asked about Carlson, Fox News, and whether Rittenhouse is aligned with such forces in right-wing media. Richards replied, “I don’t think he is. … I don’t think he is a crazy right-winger.”
Cuomo then asked Richards about the lionization of Rittenhouse: “What kind of message do you think this sends?” Cuomo asked, noting how some gun shops are promoting sales tied to Rittenhouse’s name and how a GOP lawmaker offered him an internship. “Is that something Kyle endorses?” Richards replied, “I don’t think that is something he endorses. I think it sends a message that certain people are morons…”