PolitiFact roasted for previous 'fact-check' claiming Kyle Rittenhouse's possession of weapon wasn't legal

Tucker: Kyle Rittenhouse facts are different than what we were told

‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ host examines the role the media played in the homicide case.

PolitiFact is under fire for a poorly-aged “fact-check” claiming Kyle Rittenhouse’s firearm possession was illegal. 

Judge Bruce Schroeder, who is overseeing the Rittenhouse murder trial, made headlines on Monday over his decision to throw out the sixth charge against the 18-year-old for having a dangerous weapon as a minor. Rittenhouse was 17 at the time of the deadly shootings. 

Schroeder tossed the charge after prosecutors conceded Rittenhouse’s rifle was not short-barreled as the law has a carveout for such weapons. 

However, just days after the events in Kenosha, PolitiFact asserted otherwise. 

Kyle Rittenhouse listens as his attorney, Mark Richards, give his closing argument during  Rittenhouse’s trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S., November 15, 2021. Sean Krajacic/Pool via REUTERS
(Sean Krajacic/Pool via REUTERS)

The so-called “fact-checking” news outlet challenged claim made by a random Facebook user on Aug. 27, 2020, writing “Carrying a rifle across state lines is perfectly legal, adding “Based on the laws I can find of this area at 17 years old Kyle was perfectly legal to be able to possess that rifle without parental supervision.”

“Is that true? State laws suggest not,” PolitiFact’s Daniel Funke wrote at the time.

According to the article, the Facebook post was flagged to PolitiFact “as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed.”

“The Wisconsin Department of Justice honors concealed carry permits issued in Illinois. But Rittenhouse did not have a permit to begin with, and he was not legally old enough to carry a firearm in Wisconsin,” Funke wrote, before going into concealed and open carry laws in Wisconsin and Rittenhouse’s home state of Illinois.

Funke did cite a Wisconsin gun rights attorney who noted an exception to shotguns and rifles, which allows “children ages 16 and 17” to hunt, but it doesn’t apply to Rittenhouse because he “wasn’t in Kenosha to hunt.” There was no mention of any legal exception for short-barreled guns. 

“Whether Rittenhouse violated Wisconsin law by possessing a firearm underage is the subject of ongoing litigation. But the Facebook post claimed that it was “perfectly legal” for the teenager to carry an assault-style rifle in Kenosha,” Funke continued. “At best, that’s unproven. At worst, it’s inaccurate. Either way, we rate the post False.”

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger holds Kyle Rittenhouse’s gun as he gives the state’s closing argument in Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.  Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year.  (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)
(Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)

Critics railed against PolitiFact for publishing false information in the wake of the shootings. 

“This fact check was always wrong, but now that the weapons charge has been dropped it’s officially PANTS ON FIRE,” RealClearInvestigations senior writer Mark Hemingway reacted. 

“Who fact checks the fact checkers?” Babylon Bee writer Frank J. Fleming wondered. 

“It’s 100% true, which is why that charge was just tossed by the judge,” The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis mocked PolitiFact. “Your entire enterprise is a fraud because you’re all bootlicking Bolsheviks who will lie about literally anything as long as it helps the Left. Retract your nonsense, then find a new job.”

The article has yet to be corrected nor retracted. 

PolitiFact did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. 

Funke, who has since joined USA Today as a journalist “checking facts + covering misinfo,” just so happens to be the same “fact-checker” behind the newspaper’s infamous assertion in September that President Biden did not check his watch during the dignified transfer ceremony honoring the 13 U.S. servicemen who were killed in Afghanistan during the chaotic military withdrawal. 

Funke examined whether or not Biden actually kept checking the time on his wrist as the caskets of the fallen were rolled onto the tarmac at Dover Air Force Base, sparking outrage among the families who witnessed the distracted president. 

“[Biden] did appear to check his watch during his visit to Dover Air Force Base. But he did so after the dignified transfer ceremony was over,” Funke wrote. “Footage leading up to the moment shows Biden with his hand over his heart for about 30 seconds as vans carry the service members’ remains off the tarmac. After the vans had left, Biden closes his eyes briefly before dropping his arms and glancing down at his watch.”

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN – NOVEMBER 15: Judge Bruce Schroeder speaks to issues on jury instruction during Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 15, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse is accused of shooting three demonstrators, killing two of them, during a night of unrest that erupted in Kenosha after a police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back while being arrested in August 2020. Rittenhouse, from Antioch, Illinois, was 17 at the time of the shooting and armed with an assault rifle. He faces counts of felony homicide and felony attempted homicide. (Photo by Sean Krajacic-Pool/Getty Images)
(Sean Krajacic)

The fact check ruled the claim “partly false,” writing that the image of Biden that circulated on social media was real but that it does not “accurately summarize” what occurred. 

USA Today ultimately issued a correction. 

“Corrections & Clarifications: This story was updated Sept. 2 to note that Biden checked his watch multiple times at the dignified transfer event, including during the ceremony itself,” the correction read at the top of the report on Thursday. “The rating on this claim has been changed from partly false to missing context.”

The headline also changed from “Fact check: Biden honored service members killed in Kabul, checked his watch only after ceremony” to “Fact check: Biden honored service members killed in Kabul, checked his watch during ceremony.”

Fox News’ Greg Norman and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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