NBC News reported Thursday that an internal Department of Homeland Security memo "directed" federal law enforcement officials "to make public comments sympathetic to Kyle Rittenhouse" — the 17-year-old facing murder charges for killing two individuals and wounding a third during Black Lives Matter riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last month.
According to the NBC News report, the memo was "unusual" and a former DHS official quoted in the story called the memo "unprecedented" and "wrong."
The memo, however, which TheBlaze has viewed and can confirm was included in a briefing document for Aug. 30 Sunday shows, appeared to merely record open-source evidence about the case as background information.
Here's what it said:
- "17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse is being charged with 1st degree murder and his lawyers are arguing self-defense. His extradition hearing from Illinois to Wisconsin has been moved to next month."
- "He took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners."
- "Kyle was seen being chased and attacked by rioters before allegedly shooting three of them, killing two."
- "Media are trying to craft the narrative of a police-obsessed lone-wolf. Democrats labeled him a white supremacist with zero evidence."
- "Subsequent video has emerged reportedly showing that there were 'multiple gunmen' involved, which would lend more credence to the self-defense claims."
What's the problem here?
The listed bullet points aren't so much biased talking points as they are basic facts about the case, despite what the NBC story seems to suggest.
TheBlaze has reported on many of the details noted in the memo, such as that Rittenhouse was in Kenosha the night of the incidents for the stated purpose of defending businesses against rioters — or at least that's what he is quoted as saying in a video taken earlier that night before the shootings.
Also, subsequent video footage indeed has shown that Rittenhouse was the pursued and not the pursuer in the incidents. Just as well, a New York Times analysis discovered that Rittenhouse was not the first person in the area to fire his weapon.
Likewise, many in the liberal media did in fact rush to judge Rittenhouse as a radicalized white supremacist before any investigation had begun.
All this is to say that the DHS memo's bulleted list wasn't pulled out of thin air and crafted to make Rittenhouse appear innocent. Such background information had been widely reported and appeared to be included in the memo as just that — background information.
TheBlaze reached out to NBC News requesting comment on why it considered a straightforward recitation of the facts of the case to be biased toward Rittenhouse. NBC News has not yet responded.
It should also be noted that the bulleted list in question does not appear to specifically be part of the recommended responses that DHS officials were to give to questions about the case.
In fact, under a separate "response" subhead, federal officials are advised to speak about the matter in a purposefully objective way.
The "response" section read like this:
- "I'm not going to comment on an ongoing investigation, and especially not one outside of my law enforcement jurisdiction."
- "What I will say is that Rittenhouse, like everyone else in America, is innocent until proven guilty and deserves a fair trial based on all the facts, not just the ones that support a certain narrative."
- "This is why we try the accused in the court of law, not the star chamber of public opinion."
- "This is also why we need to stop the violence in our cities. Chaotic and violent situations lead to chaotic, violent, and tragic outcomes. Everyone needs law and order."
NBC's report acknowledges as much:
The document instructs officials, if they are asked about Rittenhouse, to say they are not going to comment on an ongoing investigation and to say that "what I will say is that Rittenhouse, just like everyone else in America, is innocent until proven guilty and deserves a fair trial based on all the facts, not just the ones that support a certain narrative. This is why we try the accused in the court of law, not the star chamber of public opinion."
Consequently, on Aug. 30, when DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf appeared on several Sunday shows, including CBS News' "Face the Nation" and ABC News' "This Week," not once does he appear to speak favorably toward Rittenhouse.
On "Face the Nation," the topic was not brought up. On "This Week," Wolf refused to comment on the ongoing investigation despite repeated attempts by ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl to bait him into doing so.