NBC News Misrepresents Internal DHS Memo About Their Response to the Kyle Rittenhouse Case

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Posted: Oct 01, 2020 4:30 PM
NBC News Misrepresents Internal DHS Memo About Their Response to the Kyle Rittenhouse Case

Source: Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court via AP

NBC News misrepresented an internal memo given to Department of Homeland Security officials that was meant to brief them on the Kyle Rittenhouse situation the week it occurred in August. 

NBC News reported "officials were directed to make public comments sympathetic" about Rittenhouse and it included quotes from the document:

"Federal law enforcement officials were directed to make public comments sympathetic to Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager charged with fatally shooting two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, according to internal Department of Homeland Security talking points obtained by NBC News.

"In preparing Homeland Security officials for questions about Rittenhouse from the media, the document suggests that they note that he 'took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners.'

...

"The Rittenhouse talking points also say, 'Kyle was seen being chased and attacked by rioters before allegedly shooting three of them, killing two.'

'Subsequent video has emerged reportedly showing that there were 'multiple gunmen' involved, which would lend more credence to the self-defense claims.'"

Townhall has obtained the DHS memo and it is different from how NBC News described it. There are two sections of the memo, "Situation" and "Response," a fact not included in their story.

The following quotes are found underneath "Situation" with hyperlinks to news articles:

  • "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."

Those same quotes were reported by NBC News as officials being "directed" to respond with if asked about the Rittenhouse situation, but those quotes are not found underneath "Response."

Instead, under the "Response" section, the memo directed DHS officials to say:

  • "I'm not going to comment on an ongoing investigation, especially not one outside of my law enforcement jurisdiction."
  • "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."
  • "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."

In other words, NBC News misrepresented what the memo said by not reporting how the "sympathetic" talking points were not talking points at all given how they were in the "Situation" section and not the "Response" section. NBC News rolled two different components into just the "Response" portion of the memo.

The "Situation" section is "not meant to be talking points," a senior official with direct knowledge told Townhall.

Townhall's requests for comment from NBC News Managing Editor David Firestone and Senior Washington Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand were not returned in time for publication.