Tucker Carlson tries to justify actions of 17-year-old charged in Kenosha killings

Fox News host Tucker Carlson ignited widespread condemnation on Wednesday after he attempted to justify the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old accused of fatally shooting two protesters during demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday night.

"So are we really surprised that looting and arson accelerated to murder?" he asked on Tucker Carlson Tonight. "How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?"

Rittenhouse was reportedly arrested in his hometown of Antioch, Illinois, and charged with first-degree murder on Wednesday. He's accused of crossing the state border with a semi-automatic rifle and joining a group of heavily armed white vigilantes who sought to "protect" public property in Kenosha, where he shot three people, killing two.

Kenosha has been rocked by protests since Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot seven times in the back by police on Sunday while his children were nearby.

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Protests across the U.S. over Jacob Blake shooting in Wisconsin
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Protests across the U.S. over Jacob Blake shooting in Wisconsin
Police try to secure businesses after protesters set fire to an office in the background late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Protesters converged on the county courthouse during a second night of clashes after the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier turned Kenosha into the nation's latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A protester attempts to continue standing through a cloud of tear gas fired by police outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Protesters converged on the county courthouse during a second night of clashes after the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier turned Kenosha into the nation's latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Protesters take cover from tear gas fired by police outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Protesters converged on the county courthouse during a second night of clashes after the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier turned Kenosha into the nation's latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Bystanders look on as cars burn after protesters set fire to a used auto lot late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Protests have been sparked by the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha Police officer a day earlier. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police in riot gear stand in a line against protesters next to a message spay painted on the Kenosha County Courthouse, late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Protesters converged on the county courthouse during a second night of clashes after the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier turned Kenosha into the nation's latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police attempt to push back protesters outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Protesters converged on the county courthouse during a second night of clashes after the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier turned Kenosha into the nation's latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A protester attempts to stand through a cloud of tear gas fired by police outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Protesters converged on the county courthouse during a second night of clashes after the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier turned Kenosha into the nation's latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police stand near a building that was on fire during protests, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis., sparked by the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha Police officer a day earlier. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
A protester walks past a building that was on fire during protests Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis., sparked by the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha Police officer on Sunday. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Police clash with protesters near the Kenosha County Courthouse, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
A protester lights a cigarette on a garbage truck that was set on fire during protests late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis., sparked by the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha Police officer a day earlier. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Police clash with protesters near the Kenosha County Courthouse, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Police clash with protesters near the Kenosha County Courthouse, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Police try to secure businesses after protesters set fire to an office in the background late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Protests have erupted following the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A protester shouts toward police after getting injured during clashes between the two sides late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Protesters converged on the county courthouse during a second night of clashes after the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier turned Kenosha into the nation's latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
An American flag flies above the department of corrections building, late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Protests have erupted following the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
LOUISVILLE, KY- AUGUST 23: Black Lives Matter protestors demonstrate at the corner of 6th and Broadway in Louisville, Kentucky after the police shooting of Jacob Blake on August 23, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin . Credit: Chris Tuite/ImageSPACE/MediaPunch /IPX
LOUISVILLE, KY- AUGUST 23: Black Lives Matter protestors demonstrate at the corner of 6th and Broadway in Louisville, Kentucky after the police shooting of Jacob Blake on August 23, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin . Credit: Chris Tuite/ImageSPACE/MediaPunch /IPX
LOUISVILLE, KY- AUGUST 23: Black Lives Matter protestors demonstrate at the corner of 6th and Broadway in Louisville, Kentucky after the police shooting of Jacob Blake on August 23, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin . Credit: Chris Tuite/ImageSPACE/MediaPunch /IPX
LOUISVILLE, KY- AUGUST 23: A Black Lives Matter protestor demonstrates at the corner of 6th and Broadway in Louisville, Kentucky after the police shooting of Jacob Blake on August 23, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin . Credit: Chris Tuite/ImageSPACE/MediaPunch /IPX
LOUISVILLE, KY- AUGUST 23: Black Lives Matter protestors demonstrate at the corner of 6th and Broadway in Louisville, Kentucky after the police shooting of Jacob Blake on August 23, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin . Credit: Chris Tuite/ImageSPACE/MediaPunch /IPX
LOUISVILLE, KY- AUGUST 23: A Black Lives Matter protestor demonstrates at the corner of 6th and Broadway in Louisville, Kentucky after the police shooting of Jacob Blake on August 23, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin . Credit: Chris Tuite/ImageSPACE/MediaPunch /IPX
A protester stands in a cloud of tear gas near a burning garbage truck outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Protesters converged on the county courthouse during a second night of clashes after the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier turned Kenosha into the nation’s latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A protester stands on a car as they stop traffic Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has summoned the National Guard to head off another round of violent protests after the police shooting of a Black man turned Kenosha into the nation's latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Burned out vehicles are seen Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Many of the cars were set on fire during protests Sunday night after a police shooting in the city. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Protesters walk past police with their arms up, late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis., as a building burns in the background. Protests have erupted following the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A protester stands off with police in riot gear outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Protesters converged on the county courthouse during a second night of clashes after the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier turned Kenosha into the nation's latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police stand near a garbage truck ablaze during protests, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis., sparked by the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha Police officer a day earlier. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Police stand near a department of corrections building ablaze during protests, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis., sparked by the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha Police officer a day earlier. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
A protester walks past a building with broken windows as others burn during protests, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis., sparked by the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha Police officer a day earlier. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
A man walks near an office on fire, late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Protests have erupted following the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A protester stands near a burning garbage truck outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Protesters converged on the county courthouse during a second night of clashes after the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier turned Kenosha into the nation’s latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police clash with protesters near the Kenosha County Courthouse, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Protesters link arms in front of a police line outside the Kenosha County courthouse Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has summoned the National Guard to head off another round of violent protests after the police shooting of a Black man turned Kenosha into the nation's latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Protesters chant outside the Kenosha County courthouse Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has summoned the National Guard to head off another round of violent protests after the police shooting of a Black man turned Kenosha into the nation's latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Protesters link arms in front of a police line outside the Kenosha County courthouse Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has summoned the National Guard to head off another round of violent protests after the police shooting of a Black man turned Kenosha into the nation's latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Police try to secure the public safety building from protesters Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has summoned the National Guard to head off another round of violent protests after the police shooting of a Black man under murky circumstances turned Kenosha into the nation’s latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Police try to secure the public safety building from protesters Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis.Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has summoned the National Guard to head off another round of violent protests after the police shooting of a Black man under murky circumstances turned Kenosha into the nation’s latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
A small group of Black Lives Matter protesters hold a rally on the steps of the Kenosha County courthouse Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Kenosha police shot a man Sunday evening, setting off unrest in the city after a video appeared to show the officer firing several shots at close range into the man's back. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
A small group of Black Lives Matter protesters hold a rally on the steps of the Kenosha County courthouse Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Kenosha police shot a man Sunday evening, setting off unrest in the city after a video appeared to show the officer firing several shots at close range into the man's back. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
A woman is seen through a broken window at the Harborside Academy Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. The windows were broken after protests broke out late Sunday night following a police shooting. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
A small group of Black Lives Matter protesters march near the sight of a police shooting Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Kenosha police shot a man Sunday evening, setting off unrest in the city after a video appeared to show the officer firing several shots at close range into the man's back. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Burned out vehicles are seen Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Many of the cars were set on fire during protests Sunday night after a police shooting in the city. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
A protester walks past a building ablaze during protests Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis., sparked by the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha Police officer on Sunday. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Police clash with protesters near the Kenosha County Courthouse, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Police take cover behind armored vehicles during clashes with protesters late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Protesters converged on the county courthouse during a second night of clashes after the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier turned Kenosha into the nation's latest flashpoint city in a summer of racial unrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
LOUISVILLE, KY- AUGUST 23: Black Lives Matter protestors demonstrate at the corner of 6th and Broadway in Louisville, Kentucky after the police shooting of Jacob Blake on August 23, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin . Credit: Chris Tuite/ImageSPACE/MediaPunch /IPX
LOUISVILLE, KY- AUGUST 23: Black Lives Matter protestors demonstrate at the corner of 6th and Broadway in Louisville, Kentucky after the police shooting of Jacob Blake on August 23, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin . Credit: Chris Tuite/ImageSPACE/MediaPunch /IPX
Protesters walk past police with their arms up, late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis., as a building burns in the background. Protests have erupted following the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police stand near a building that was on fire during protests, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis., sparked by the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha Police officer on Sunday. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
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Carlson began the broadcast by showing footage of chaotic scenes in Kenosha, claiming major media organisations have been trying to "downplay and ignore" the violence before he then showed footage of a victim dying from a gunshot wound.

"The 17-year-old who has now been charged tried to run from the mob. He tripped and fell in the middle of the street. A man ran up and smashed him in the head with a skateboard," Carlson said. "The 17-year-old then fired his gun."

"So what does that amount to?" Carlson asked. He then said a court will decide if it "qualifies as self-defence" and blamed the entire incident on Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, and authorities who he said have "abandoned" the city.

Carlson has often spewed vitriol about the Black Lives Matter movement and, in the months since George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police, has persistently defaulted to fearmongering about the anti-racism protests gripping the nation. He's described Minneapolis demonstrations over the Black man's death as a "threat to every American", called the Black Lives Matter movement "poison" and repeatedly sought to frame protesters as violent thugs.

He's remained on Fox News airwaves despite routinely giving a platform to white supremacist conspiracy theories and talking points on his show. (Carlson, notably, has said he thinks white supremacy is a "hoax".)

On Wednesday, he drew a storm of criticism for his latest comments. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich said that if Fox News doesn't take action after this, every one of the network's "executives, directors and advertisers is complicit in Tucker Carlson's racist, murderous rants."

"An innocent black guy is killed by police and Tucker Carlson calls him a thug. A guilty white guy murders two people and Tucker Carlson calls him a patriot," tweeted CNN commentator Keith Boykin.

And conservative commentator Bill Kristol shared the names of Fox News' top executives in a "reminder that Tucker Carlson is employed and compensated by a corporation whose board of directors could insist that its employees, e.g., not excuse racial violence."

Earlier in the evening, Fox News' Jesse Watters similarly blamed the governor and the protest movement for Tuesday's deaths. "Sadly, you're going to have vigilante justice," he said.

- This article first appeared on HuffPost

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