Posted BY: Bob Adelmann
After learning that Johnny Depp won a $15 million defamation lawsuit, Kyle Rittenhouse tweeted: “[the] Johnny Depp trial is just fueling me. You can fight back against the lies in the media, and you should!”
Rittenhouse is the young man whom the media called a murderer after the Kenosha, Wisconsin, riots that occurred the summer of 2020 but before his trial had begun. In a unanimous decision, the jury acquitted Rittenhouse of all charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
Rittenhouse became acquainted with Nicholas Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School student whom the media also defamed after an incident involving a Native American activist near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., in January 2019.
On Thursday, Sandmann’s attorney, Todd McMurtry, told Fox News that he’d been hired by Rittenhouse “to determine whom to sue, when to sue, [and] where to sue. We’re going to look at everything that’s been said, determine which of those comments are legally actionable and proceed from there.”
McMurtry had significant success in representing Sandmann in multi-million-dollar lawsuits against CNN, NBC Universal, and The Washington Post. In each case, settlements were made before the lawsuits made it to trial, but the amounts remain undisclosed. Simple math, however, serves well: The amounts were likely very large because fighting a losing battle with McMurtry was going to be costly. And checkbook math won out.
The lawsuit against The Washington Post, filed in February 2019 in the amount of $250 million, claimed that the Post wanted to lead a “mainstream and social media mob of bullies which attacked, vilified, and threatened” Sandmann. They targeted the high school student “because he was white, [a] Catholic student wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ souvenir cap,” and the Post “knew and intended that its allegedly defamatory accusations would be republished by others.”
In speaking with Fox News, McMurtry noted the similarity of the two defamation cases: Both involved young men who were minors during the incidents and who “were falsely wrongfully condemned by the media and social media.”
Mark Zuckerberg is at the top of the list, McMurtry said:
Facebook has an outsized voice. They can do a lot of damage … but we’re going to look at everything … and decide which ones are actionable.
Let’s just use for an example what Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg said about [Rittenhouse]. They said that he was involved in a mass murder incident.
This was not a mass murder incident. It was clearly factually false.
To call somebody a mass murderer is seriously defamatory.
And then to use the power of social media to basically … censor any views that would take opposition to that mass murderer statement is a serious effort to destroy his character.… It was seriously mistaken and seriously defamatory.
The list of potential defendants is a long one, according to McMurtry, who said it’s “pretty much assured that there’s probably 10 to 15 solid” cases against “large defendants.”
Rittenhouse said he was going to go after everyone who defamed him. On February 21, he appeared on Tucker Carson Tonight:
RITTENHOUSE: I don’t want to see anybody else have to deal with what I went through. So, I want to hold them accountable for what they did to me, because I don’t want to see anybody have to go through what I went through.
CARLSON: Yeah. They tried to imprison you for the rest of your life. It wasn’t coverage. It was advocacy.
You have a lot of potential targets to sue, yourself. Will you be suing any of these news organizations, and if so, when?
RITTENHOUSE: Well, right now we’re looking at quite a few politicians, celebrities, athletes.…
Whoopi Goldberg is on the list. She called me a murderer after I was acquitted by a jury of my peers. She went on to still say that, and there’s others, don’t forget about Cenk [Uygur] from The Young Turks. They called me a murderer before a verdict and continue to call me a murderer.
CARLSON: And what about the people who called you groundlessly a white supremacist, which makes it pretty hard to get a job for the rest of your life if you are a white supremacist. Will you be responding to them?
RITTENHOUSE: Absolutely. We are going to hold everybody who’s lied about me accountable. Such as — everybody who lied [who] called me a white supremacist. They’re all going to be held accountable and we’re going to handle them in a courtroom.
Rittenhouse has formed The Media Accountability Project (TMAP) to “hold the media accountable for the lies they said and [to] deal with them in court.”