I’m awfully curious as to how the Washington Post ended up being the media outlet to conduct Kyle Rittenhouse’s first interview after his arrest on murder and assault charges in the shootings of three people during riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, but the liberal paper published details of the paper’s conversation with the teenager on Thursday.
Rather than simply publish a transcript or audio of the entire interview, however, the Post only shares a few brief snippets of the conversation, weaving a few of his comments into a broader story about the shootings in late August.
We hear Rittenhouse say, for example, that he doesn’t have any regrets about having a gun with him on the night of the shootings, telling reporters “I feel I had to protect myself. I would have died that night if I hadn’t,” but the Post doesn’t share the initial question posed to Rittenhouse or his full answer, though the reporters do note that Rittenhouse’s attorneys agreed to the interview only after the paper agreed not to ask any questions about the shooting itself or the events that followed.
In the nearly half-hour video produced by the Post, a narrative quickly emerges, and surprisingly, it’s not entirely hostile to the 17-year old. On one side of the story is a “young gun rights enthusiast,” and on the other is “a homeless man with a criminal record who’d just been discharged from a psychiatric hospital,” referring to Joseph Rosenbaum, who was chasing after Rittenhouse along with a number of other individuals when Rittenhouse fired his rifle, allegedly in self-defense.
The Post lays out Rosenbaum’s criminal history, including the decade spent in prison for child molestation, and notes that Rosenbaum had been arrested on July 18th after allegedly bodyslamming his girlfriend. A week or so later, Rosenbaum overdosed in front of a Kenosha McDonalds. After leaving the hospital, Rosenbaum spent three weeks in jail for violating a protective order not to have contact with his girlfriend, and once he was released in late August he headed towards Milwaukee and the Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.
Rosenbaum was discharged on the morning of August 25th and made his way back to Kenosha, as Rittenhouse was working with a group of volunteers to clean up some of the destruction and vandalism that had rocked Kenosha the night before.
That evening, Rittenhouse and the friend who originally bought the AR-15 rifle for Rittenhouse headed out towards downtown Kenosha. Rittenhouse maintains that he and Dominic Black were supposed to be paid for standing guard over a local car dealership, and he told the Post that he was carrying a rifle because “I was going into a place where people had guns and God forbid somebody brought a gun to me and decided to shoot me. I wanted to be protected, which I ended up having to protect myself.”
The Post details the events leading up to the shooting, with video of Rittenhouse offering medical help while Rosenbaum is helping to push a dumpster that had been set ablaze. At one point the two even pass by each other in a crowd without incident, though Rosenbaum can be seen swinging a chain as he walks away after police briefly broke up the mob.
Video shows Rittenhouse walking with a fire extinguisher in his hand a short time later, heading towards another car lot that had been set ablaze. Rosenbaum then begins chasing Rittenhouse, and a crowd follows in close behind. One man in the crowd fires a shot from a handgun into the air as Rosenbaum caught up to Rittenhouse, and eyewitnesses have described Rittenhouse firing as Rosenbaum reached for the rifle.
When asked if he regretting having a gun that night, Kyle Rittenhouse said no, adding that he believed he would have been killed that evening if he was unarmed. Even Rosenbaum’s girlfriend Kariann Swart, who says she doesn’t believe that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, admits to the Post that she still struggles with why Rosenbaum was in the middle of the riots that night.
“On the other hand, Joe, you shouldn’t have been down there. And that’s the two sides I deal with, like ‘what were you doing?’ I go between being angry to just being sad, but mostly just sad.”
The overall piece may surprise gun owners who watch it, because it’s not nearly as biased as you’d expect from the Washington Post. I think at least some of that has to do with the facts of the case: Rittenhouse, who was spotted on various live streams throughout the evening, really did appear to be trying to help others. He’s certainly not ever seen on camera trying to instigate any confrontations.
Rosenbaum, on the other hand, was clearly taking part in the destruction, and appears agitated and angry in some of the footage captured on smartphone cameras in the hours before the shootings took place. We know that Rosenbaum was leading the charge of a crowd of people chasing Rittenhouse. We know someone fired a shot behind Rittenhouse moments before Rosenbaum reached for his gun. We know that after Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum, as he was again attempting to flee, he fell to the ground and was hit in the head with a skateboard by Anthony Huber, who was in turn shot by Rittenhouse.
In my opinion, the facts of the case truly don’t seem to support murder charges against Kyle Rittenhouse, regardless of whether you think he should be been standing guard at a business in Kenosha that night. Even if Rittenhouse was possessing the rifle illegally (which remains an open question), did he lose his right to act in self-defense when he was pursued by the mob? I’ve never understood the decision by prosecutors to charge Rittenhouse with murder, and the Washington Post‘s interview with Rittenhouse and their narrative of what happened that night have done nothing to being me any closer to the prosecution’s point of view.