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Kyle Rittenhouse hints at lawsuits against media companies: 'Accountability is coming'
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Kyle Rittenhouse hints at lawsuits against media companies: 'Accountability is coming'

Kyle Rittenhouse hinted Monday that "accountability" is coming for the media organizations that he believes defamed or slandered him as a racist white supremacist.

Rittenhouse, who last month was acquitted on charges that included first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, was portrayed as a white supremacist vigilante by the media and politicians.

In reality, as a jury of his peers agreed, Rittenhouse was justified in using self-defense during the Kenosha riots in the summer of 2020.

What are the details?

While speaking at a Turning Point USA event in Arizona, Rittenhouse was asked if he plans to "sue some media companies any time soon." The 18-year-old responded in the affirmative.

"Some accountability’s coming. I'd be on the lookout — accountability is coming," Rittenhouse said.

Rittenhouse also confirmed that he has discussed the topic with Nicholas Sandmann, who sued numerous media companies over their disparaging portrayal of him following an incident with a Native American man at the Lincoln Monument in 2019. Sandmann has now settled lawsuits with NBC News, CNN, and the Washington Post, though the monetary terms of the settlements have not been publicized.

"My turn may be next," Rittenhouse said Monday.


What do legal experts say?

After his acquittal, support erupted for Rittenhouse to sue the media corporations and politicians that allegedly defamed him.

Supporters said President Joe Biden should be the first person held accountable. Biden, when he was a candidate for president, lumped Rittenhouse into a denouncement of white supremacy.

Legal experts, however, told the Daily Caller that winning defamation lawsuits would prove difficult for Rittenhouse.

"In defamation cases, different standards apply whether you are considered to be a public figure or a private figure," said Zack Smith, a legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation. "If you're considered to be a public figure, you have to show that the media outlet or the individual making or repeating the factual statement about you did so with actual malice or reckless disregard. That actual malice standard is very difficult to overcome."

Meanwhile, the foundation of the possible defamation claim — that Rittenhouse was falsely painted as a "white supremacist" when he is not — would be nearly impossible to prove in court because the phrase does not have an objective definition.

"The argument would be no one even knows what that means anymore because it's so ridiculous, so it wouldn't be an objective provable statement of fact in any way, so it would be a protected opinion," First Amendment lawyer Lincolon Bandlow explained. "Defamation only applies to false factual statements. Someone can't be sued for making, stating an opinion, their opinion about someone."

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