On the left, Johnny Depp gestures to his fans outside court during the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard on May 27, 2022 in Fairfax, Virginia. On the right, Kyle Rittenhouse sits trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 01, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Photos by Cliff Owen / Consolidated News Pictures / Getty Images and Sean Krajacic-Pool / Getty Images)
Kyle Rittenhouse says he’s now feeling inspired to push ahead with his own defamation lawsuits after Johnny Depp’s victory in court this week.“Johnny Depp trial is just fueling me,” Rittenhouse tweeted Wednesday, hinting at a big announcement to come. Rittenhouse was acquitted last year of all charges related to killing two people and wounding another with an assault rifle during a protest against police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020. “You can fight back against the lies in the media, and you should.”
That big announcement was the appointment of Todd McMurtry as his lawyer. McMurtry is best known for representing Covington Catholic high school student Nick Sandmann, whose face-off with a Native American activist in January 2019 at the Lincoln Memorial was widely covered at the time. McMurtry has so far helped Sandmann reach settlements in defamation actions against CNN, the Washington Post, and NBC. Lawsuits against the New York Times, CBS, ABC, and Rolling Stone are still active.“I’ve been hired to head the effort to determine whom to sue, when to sue, where to sue," McMurtry told Fox News. “We're going to look at everything that's been said, determine which of those comments are legally actionable, and proceed from there.”McMurtry added he’s confident “that there are probably 10 to 15 solid [cases against] large defendants.”In an email update to supporters, Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy, wrote that “with Todd now on board, it's off to the races in our fight to hold some very powerful propagandists accountable for maliciously and dishonestly attacking my son.”In a series of interviews with right-wing media in the weeks and months after his acquittal, Rittenhouse named several individuals in the past who he said he was planning on suing for labeling him a murderer or white supremacist.
But on Thursday, McMurtry named just one person: Mark Zuckerberg."Let's just use for an example what Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg said about [Rittenhouse],” McMurtry said. “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.”Facebook did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.Following his acquittal, Rittenhouse didn’t have to wait long for attention from those who believed he had been wronged. The teenager quickly became a major star on the right and earlier this year leveraged that fame to launch the Media Accountability Project as a fundraising vehicle to help him file lawsuits against a variety of media and Big Tech targets.While Thursday’s fundraising email didn’t name any target aside from Zuckerberg, in the past Rittenhouse has said his potential targets include “a few politicians, celebrities, athletes.” He’s also singled out actor Whoopi Goldberg: “She called me a murderer after I was acquitted by a jury of my peers. She went on to still say that,” Rittenhouse told Fox News in February.Rittenhouse has also named Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks as someone he is planning on suing.Interestingly, Rittenhouse also shares another common legal link with Sandmann, aside from McMurtry. Both have been repped by pro-Trump, conspiracy-loving, Lin Wood in the past. Rittenhouse fired Wood from his team after accusing the lawyer of stealing money raised for the teenager’s defense fund while Sandmann fired Wood for comments the lawyer posted on Telegram claiming former Vice President Mike Pence should be executed for treason.