Tucker Carlson just added Kyle Rittenhouse to his pantheon of victim-heroes
Rittenhouse, who claimed self-defense after fatally shooting two people and wounding another during a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has become a heroic figure on the right, lauded for his willingness to defend property and defend himself with deadly force during the protests.
He introduced Rittenhouse as “bright, decent, sincere, dutiful, and hardworking… exactly the kind of person you would want many more of in your country.” During the interview, he joked with Rittenhouse about their shared propensity for gaining weight, while during a break, he said to his audience, “What a sweet kid.”
Shortly after commenting on the shooter’s sweetness, Carlson offered his viewers a summary of his Rittenhouse narrative: “The picture that emerges is of a working-class kid who sincerely believes in America. His community falls apart, and he tries his best to do the right thing, at a time when almost no one else in the community is trying to do the right thing. But he does. And in return for that, the state, under political pressure, throws him in prison.”
Carlson has obviously skipped over a key part of the story — where Rittenhouse killed two people. He does so to underscore his broader message to his audience: this could be you or your child. You, the person who loves your country. You, the person who wants to defend your community. You, the person who believes you’re doing the right thing, even when it requires standing alone. And when you do all these things, you are at risk of being unjustly targeted by politicians and prosecutors and the Deep State.
Their departure comes nearly five years after the network went all in on Donald Trump, replacing Trump skeptics like Megyn Kelly and George Will with some of his most ardent supporters, including Carlson and Laura Ingraham. The network’s Trump boosterism was hard to miss, yet so too was giving up lucrative commentator slots. It took “Patriot Purge” to finally stir their consciences to the point of departure.
And that is a key takeaway for the network’s embrace of Carlson: though he plays a powerful role in stitching together events like the insurrection and the Rittenhouse trial into a coherent narrative of conservative grievance and virtue, the underlying appeal plays on the preferences of the network’s and the party’s conservative base. The right had made Rittenhouse a hero while the bodies of the people he shot were still warm. Carlson is there to tell them not only was Rittenhouse right, but they were right, too.