NBC Reporter Floats Insane Rittenhouse Conspiracy Theory About Parade Shooting


Charlie Brooker — best known as the creator of and writer for sci-fi anthology series “Black Mirror” — started his career as a video game critic in the 1990s. Gaming has remained a passion of his, and in 2013, he compiled a list of the top 25 video games of all time for a TV special.

The usual suspects were on the countdown. “Super Mario Bros.” was No. 20, “Pac-Man” No. 23, “Street Fighter II” at No. 17 and “Grand Theft Auto III” at No. 10.

The number one spot was a bit of a surprise, though: It’s a game called “Twitter,” which happens to be cleverly disguised as a social media platform.

“Twitter is a massively multiplayer online game,” Brooker said, defending his decision. “You choose an interesting avatar and then role-play a persona loosely based on your own, attempting to accrue followers by repeatedly pressing buttons to form interesting sentences.”

Give Brooker points for prescience. What he forgot to mention, at least in that interview, was that the persona people role-play is almost always nastier, less nuanced and more prone to prevarication than the player themselves — because that gets attention, after all.

Gold Medalist Withdraws from Olympics After Horrifying Video Takes Internet by Storm

It also doesn’t help that Twitter is seen as the global public square, where blue-checkmarked politicians, public intellectuals and media gadflies duke it out to control the historical narrative in the digital space. Things get especially ugly when a tragedy occurs and respected figures engage in a race to the bottom, trying to outdo one another in needless vituperation and dubious hot takes.

On Monday, eight people were killed and dozens were injured after a mass shooting during a July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois. The suspect, Robert E. Crimo III, fled the scene disguised in women’s clothing and drove to the Madison, Wisconsin, area, according to The New York Times. He returned to Illinois and was apprehended after a brief chase.

As families grieved and police searched for answers, journalists and politicians across the fruited plain pulled out their phones and fired up their favorite video game. The hot-take tweets, they began a’flyin’ — and quite predictably, they were idiotic, nuance-free and appalling.

More gun control! (Even though Illinois has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country.) White privilege! (Because Crimo wasn’t shot by police, natch.) He was a Trump supporter! (Democrat California Rep. Eric Swalwell, always near the top of the charts when it comes to the post-tragedy race to the bottom, tweeted that gem.)

Should the alleged Highland Park shooter face the death penalty?

(At The Western Journal, we’ve cataloged all the ghastly takes the left puts out in the wake of a major tragedy — and we’ll keep reminding them long after they want us to forget. If you support our work, please consider subscribing.)

However, the undisputed winner of the macabre July 4 Twitter hot-take tournament was Michael Beschloss, an NBC News reporter and a respected historian. He threw all that out the window, however, going viral for speculating that Crimo had fled to Wisconsin because of … Kyle Rittenhouse.


Video: Protesters Spark Chaos at Kyle Rittenhouse Event, Attempt to Trap Organizers

“Why did Highland Park person of interest choose to drive after the mass murder to Wisconsin, of all places?” Beschloss wrote.

You may recall that Wisconsin is right next to Illinois, so this doesn’t seem too unusual. Perhaps, you might think, Beschloss is about to pull out the ol’ “crossing state lines!” argument. Alas, you have no idea where this crazy train is going next:

“Any possibility that Highland Park person drove to Wisconsin after yesterday’s atrocity in the knowledge that Kyle Rittenhouse was ‘acquitted of all charges’ after shootings there?” Beschloss wrote.

Just to remove all doubt that Beschloss is playing Twitter like a video game (and racking up the high score for the day), keep in mind he’s a prolific presidential historian and was a board member of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. He knows full well that if you dissect these tweets, they come across as if they were written by a community-college flunkie.

Let’s take the most obvious flaw here: If you commit a crime in Highland Park, Illinois, it doesn’t matter if you go to Wisconsin. You will be tried in Highland Park. A man who sits on the board at the Smithsonian really expects us to believe he doesn’t know this. I’m sure some of Beschloss’ followers don’t grasp this simple concept. He appears on MSNBC quite frequently, and anyone who can take Rachel Maddow and Joy Reid seriously might not be the types to easily grasp the concept of jurisdiction — but Beschloss certainly understands this is logically incoherent.

For that matter, Madison isn’t particularly close to Kenosha, which is where Rittenhouse was tried. Wisconsin doesn’t just have one huge court where it’s super-easy for accused murderers to get off, but why let facts get in the way? Again: This cannot be taken seriously.

But then, there’s the reason why this tweet resonated: Rittenhouse. To Beschloss’ followers, the mere mention of his name causes the red mist to descend. To them, he’s a mass-murderer — simply because he defended himself during the Black Lives Matter riots in Kenosha.

There are no parallels in these cases, mind you, but that hardly matters to Beschloss. From what we know about Crimo, he was a profoundly disturbed young man who allegedly wanted to invite fame by murdering as many people as he could. Kyle Rittenhouse was a model citizen who, while trying to protect property from rioters and looters, was attacked by a mob and needed to defend himself with deadly force.

None of this makes any sense — unless, of course, you realize Twitter is a video game and Kyle Rittenhouse-plus-crossing state lines is an unbeatable combo.

And keep in mind, Beschloss is a crack player at Twitter. His online persona can churn out thought-free, viral hot-take nonsense with stunning regularity, like this tweet backing up President Joe Biden’s preposterous contention that the Capitol incursion was “the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.”

That Pearl Harbor and 9/11 escaped Joe Biden’s memory is understandable because Joe Biden doesn’t have a memory. Beschloss doesn’t share this excuse.

On the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Beschloss also made sure to post some photos of the conservative protests that met Kennedy in Dallas during his fateful trip.

Kennedy was killed by a gutless, feckless communist, but details, details. That doesn’t get those sweet, sweet retweets, after all.

It’s not that Beschloss’ bizarre Rittenhouse conspiracy theory was the only ghastly take on the Highland Park shooting, but it was easily the most deliberately uninformed and enraging. I don’t like Michael Beschloss’ work, but it’s certainly not cretinous clickbait. I know that he knows better than this, because every high-school graduate knows better than this.

There is a bigger point to be made here, however. When our nation suffers a horrific tragedy, we should put childish things away — especially video games. There’s nothing your amplified Twitter persona can contribute, especially when you’re so obviously thirsty to link one cultural flashpoint to another wholly unrelated one, no matter how tenuous the link might be.

Michael Beschloss may have won the game on Monday — but given the circumstances, it’s cold comfort.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , , , , , ,
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture