Fox News anchor Chris Wallace shut down his Fox News colleagues on Thursday for seemingly attempting to justify and defend vigilante kid Kyle Rittenhouse’s alleged murders during the Kenosha protests, sparking on-air fireworks and loud objections from his colleagues.
Amid ongoing protests in Kenosha over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, the 17-year-old Rittenhouse was charged with first-degree intentional homicide on Wednesday after allegedly killing two protesters and injuring another. Rittenhouse, who has repeatedly posted online in support of “Blue Lives Matter” and President Donald Trump, traveled from Illinois with a long gun to assist other militia types in protecting local businesses from violence.
On Thursday’s edition of Outnumbered, several co-hosts placed a large share of the blame for Rittenhouse’s allegedly murderous actions on the lack of local law-enforcement officials in the protests against police brutality.
After liberal panelist Marie Harf invoked the “rise of vigilante justice” by pointing to Rittenhouse’s alleged murders, host Melissa Francis interrupted to tell her she should instead “talk about Portland,” referring to the weeks-long protests there that resulted in the feds deploying officials to the city. Harf, meanwhile, said that in the “context of these protests and riots,” there is a “vigilante justice movement that is taking up arms to push back” and therefore “that is part of the Portland story.”
“I don’t think anyone is supporting that,” Francis replied. “We are saying we need to stop all violence.”
Co-host Harris Faulkner also weighed in, comparing the Kenosha situation to the 2014 Ferguson protests, noting that people traveled from out-of-state to instigate violence. Adding that “Dr. King did not march at night,” Faulkner said that “we are talking about defunding people who are tasked with protecting all of us,” including the “business owners who say they are trapped” by the riots.
Fox News pundit Katie Pavlich, however, made perhaps the most explicit justification of vigilantism moments later.
While asserting that Democratic leaders are making a “choice” not to “stop the violence initially,” Pavlich added: “On the argument of vigilante justice, when you have no police around to defend businesses and people who are being attacked, and their livelihoods burned to the ground, then there is a void that is filled.”
“That’s a great point,” Francis responded. “The vigilantes are just as much the fault of those local leaders who have failed so miserably.”
In the following segment, Fox News Sunday moderator Wallace rebuffed his colleagues.
“I’ve got to push back on something we said at the end of the last segment,” the veteran anchor said. “Because there seemed to be the implication that somehow vigilante justice was understandable or justified by the lack of sufficient police action and authority and presence in some of the cities.”
Francis immediately objected, exclaiming, “That’s not what was said” while shaking her head. Pavlich also jumped in, repeatedly asking Wallace who said that.
The Fox News Sunday host demanded that they let him finish his point even as the other hosts piled on. “Vigilantes were filling the void from police,” he noted, repeating Pavlich’s earlier point. “Just as it is fair to say that rioting and looting is a completely inappropriate response to George Floyd or Jacob Blake, vigilante justice is a completely inappropriate response to the rioting in the street. There is no justification for what happened in Kenosha. And vigilante justice is a crime and should be punished as a crime.”
Faulkner chimed in, insisting that “we did not say that before.” And Wallace responded: “You were saying to ‘fill a void.’ I don’t think that’s right.”
“Melissa is saying nobody is saying that is the right thing to do,” Faulkner added. “But to actually point out that it is, in fact, a crime is the nuance of what Chris Wallace is saying. I think we’ve had a complete conversation on that.”
Since Rittenhouse’s arrest, several Fox News stars have attempted to proffer excuses for his alleged killing of two protesters. The Five’s Jesse Watters said hours after the teenager was charged that “sadly, you’re going to have vigilante justice.” And later Wednesday night, primetime star Tucker Carlson fully defended Rittenhouse, framing his actions as “maintain[ing] order when no one else would.”