NEW YORK — Tucker Carlson reached 5.05 million viewers for his Kyle Rittenhouse interview on Monday, the Fox News Channel opinion host's largest audience since the night of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Rittenhouse, who was acquitted last week on charges stemming from killing two men and wounding another during August 2020 unrest in Kenosha, gave Carlson the chance for the post-trial interview because of the support he had shown Rittenhouse, according to the 18-year-old's family.
Carlson has averaged 3.16 million viewers on a typical night this year, the Nielsen company said.
Rittenhouse said in a wide-ranging interview that he's “not a racist person” and supports the Black Lives Matter movement.
“This case has nothing to do with race. It never had anything to do with race. It had to do with the right to self-defense,” Rittenhouse said. He is white, as were the men he shot.
Rittenhouse was 17 last year when he traveled 20 miles from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to Kenosha, which had been racked with protests in the wake of the Aug. 23 shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white police officer. That shooting and the response in Kenosha — protests that turned destructive — became part of the national reckoning over police use of force against Black people following George Floyd's death in Minneapolis the previous May at the hands of police.
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Rittenhouse, armed with an AR-style semiautomatic rifle, joined others who said they were intent on protecting private property from potential damage on Aug. 25. During his trial, prosecutors argued that the teenager was a “wannabe soldier” who went looking for trouble that night. Rittenhouse countered that he fired in self-defense after he was attacked and in fear for his life.
“I thought they came to the correct verdict because it wasn’t Kyle Rittenhouse on trial in Wisconsin — it was the right to self defense on trial,” Rittenhouse said in the interview. “And if I was convicted... no one would ever be privileged to defend their life against attackers.”
He said some people, including some who have made threats against him, are “too ignorant to look at the facts.”
Rittenhouse told Carlson that he wishes the shootings in Kenosha “never would've happened.”
“But it did, and we can’t change that. But how ... polarized it became is absolutely sickening, like right or left, people using me for a cause that should never have been used as a cause.”