‘Kyle Rittenhouse’s Trial Opens with His Lawyer Saying the N-Word Twice in Court’

On November 4 2021, a Reddit user shared a purported headline, “Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial opens with his lawyer saying the N-word twice in court,” to r/MarchAgainstNazis:

Kyle Rittenhouse stood trial in Kenosha County, Wisconsin in November 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during August 2020 unrest in Kenosha; a previous defender was the subject of a fact check prior to November 2021:

A day earlier, a less popular variation on this rumor was shared to r/facepalm. The r/MarchAgainstNazis iteration was far more visible on Reddit, but no contextual information appeared in the post.

Titled “Need I say more?”, the only visible information aside from an image of Rittenhouse and a different man was a byline and headline:

Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial opens with his lawyer saying the N-word twice in court

Ashley Collman

r/MarchAgainstNazis | 14Three8

As of November 5 2021, there were more than 2,500 comments on the post on r/MarchAgainstNazis, most discussing Rittenhouse’s trial. Several threads down in the comments, two commenters discussed the sourceless screenshot and its putative context:

“The lawyer was reading a transcript of a conversation. OP kindly forgot to include this in the screen cap.”

“Classic example of news media being shit and reddit swallowing it hook, line, and sinker. The headline is wildly misleading regarding what actually happened, and is just to farm clicks. The source, which op also conveniently did not include, is Insider.com, which is both father right-leaning, and lower quality, than most mainstream media. None of the news outlets worth your time are reporting on the trial in this way.

“What actually happened was Rittenhouse’s lawyer was quoting a conversation, in which one of the people Rittenhouse shot called Rittenhouse the N-word. Which is a completely different picture than the headline implies.”

A search for the text in the screenshot led to an Insider.com article with the same headline, published on November 2 2021:

Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial opens with his lawyer saying the N-word twice in court

Ashley Collman Nov 2, 2021, 3:11 PM

Kyle Rittenhouse’s defense attorney said the N-word twice in court on Tuesday [November 2 2021] during opening statements in a trial that will focus on whether the teen was justified in shooting three men during racial unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year [in August 2020].

Rittenhouse is charged in the fatal shootings of two men and injury of a third after going to Kenosha on the night of August 25, 2020 … While Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said in his opening statements that Rittenhouse’s use of force was unnecessary, Mark Richards, a member of Rittenhouse’s defense team, said the teen had been forced to defend himself from Joseph Rosenbaum, one of the slain men.

To drive home his point, Richards showed the jury a clip that depicts Rosenbaum taunting others on the night of his death.

A few paragraphs later, the article provided context for Rittenhouse’s lawyer’s use of the racial epithet:

“Shoot me,” Rosenbaum says in the video before adding the N-word. He then says the same phrase, ending it again with the N-word. “Bust on me for real,” he then says.

A little more than a minute later, while referring to the clip, Richards repeated Rosenbaum’s words in the video, including the two instances of Rosenbaum saying the N-word.

The headline shown in the screenshot saying, “Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial opens with his lawyer saying the N-word twice in court,” is real, although it was presented without a visible source. Insider.com published the headline as-is on November 2 2021, and it was accurately depicted. On its own, the headline likely generated a lot of curious clicks. Several paragraphs in, it indicated Rittenhouse’s lawyer Mark Richards “said the n-word twice” when repeating a portion of video of one of the two men shot and killed in Kenosha in August 2020. Stating that Richards had quoted a racial slur was less likely to generate traffic, and the headline without context was similarly engagement-worthy on Reddit.