Words used in Left- and Right-rated outlets in coverage of the Rittenhouse Trial. Not to scale.

Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager charged with the murder of two people and injury of another with an AR-15 rifle in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year, has been in the media’s spotlight this week as America watches the trial take place.

Right- and Left-rated outlets are covering the trial and how the incident unfolded differently.

AllSides conducted an analysis of 22 news stories: 10 from outlets rated left of center and 12 from outlets rated right of center, based on prominent outlets’ top homepage story mentioning the Rittenhouse Trial.

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We found that news outlets highlighted the same keywords in their coverage: Rittenhouse, Judge, Trial, and Kenosha were prominent in most coverage.

News coverage also varied between outlets. Through our analysis, we found that outlets on the left were much more likely to use the words "Homicide", "Wisconsin", "Video" (most often referring to enhancing video footage in the courtroom), and "Black" (Dr. John Black is a use-of-force expert who testified) in their coverage. Outlets rated on the right were much more likely to use the words "Son" (referring to Wendy Rittenhouse, the mother of Kyle Rittenhouse), "Biden" (generally pointing to the President's former campaign advertisements which linked Rittenhouse to violence), "Riots", "Media", "Supremacist" (generally refuting narratives that Rittenhouse is a white supremacist or terrorist), and "Rosenbaum" (the name of one of the men Rittenhouse killed who spent time in jail for child molestation).

We also found that Lean Right- and Right-rated outlets were slightly more likely to mention the prosecutor – Thomas Binger – by name.


A majority of right-rated outlets mentioned President Biden by name in their coverage, over two dozen times. Only one left-rated outlet, HuffPost (Left), mentioned the current president by name.

 

Word Choice in Left-Rated Outlets

Rittenhouse, Judge, Trial, Schroeder, Defense, Kenosha, Prosecutor, Defense, Binger, Wisconsin, Shot, Black, Police, White, Homicide, Video

Word Choice in Right-Rated Outlets

Rittenhouse, Kenosha, Defense, Judge, Shot, Binger, Trial, White, Supremacist, Biden, Schroeder, Police, Rosenbaum, Jury, Media, Riots, Son

 

How AllSides Did This

AllSides analyzed a total of 22 news stories; 10 from outlets rated left of center and 12 from outlets rated right of center.

Stories on the left were published by 5 Left-rated outlets (Alternet, CNN, Huffpost, Vox, Mother Jones) and 5 Lean Left-rated outlets (ABC News, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today). Stories on the right were published by 6 Right-rated outlets (Breitbart, The Daily Wire, National Review, Fox News, TheBlaze, OAN) and 6 Lean Right-rated outlets (The Epoch Times, New York Post, Washington Examiner, Reason, Newsmax, The Washington Times).


Each story analyzed was selected as the most prominent story on November 12th at 8am ET with the name "Rittenhouse" in the title on each respective website's homepage. Stories with less than 125 words were excluded.

In total, we analyzed 8,650 words on the left and 8,552 words on the right. Only words relevant to the story were included; some common words such as "said", "this", "of", "and", "would" were excluded.

The number of times a word was collectively used among outlets on each side was normalized. In other words, they were assigned a value between 0 and 1, with 1 being the most popular word used throughout. Only words used 15 times or more in each set of outlets are shown in this analysis. The value assigned is associated with the size of the word in the Left-Rated and Right-Rated word clouds.

 

Andrew Weinzierl is AllSides' data journalist. He has a Lean Left bias.

This piece was reviewed by Managing Editor Henry A. Brechter (Center bias) and  Julie Mastrine, Director of Marketing and Media Bias Ratings (Lean Right).