Media pounces on Rittenhouse trial judge's ringtone and supply chain joke

Rittenhouse prosecution like a ‘falling locomotive’ as trial missteps continue: Turley

Law professor Jonathan Turley says he has yet to see any real prosecutorial strategy in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial.

After news outlets and liberal pundits denounced defendant Kyle Rittenhouse as a “White supremacist” and “murderer,” they also took aim at the trial judge Bruce Schroeder. 

Attacks against the judge began on Wednesday after Schroeder’s phone went off during the trial. Many people speculated that the song that played was Lee Greenwood’s 1984 song “God Bless The USA.” 

Because of his ringtone, people accused the judge of being biased for allegedly having a “Trump rally anthem” on his phone.

Judge Bruce Schroeder, right, reprimands Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger, left, in his conduct in line of questioning while cross-examining Kyle Rittenhouse during the trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse on Wednesday.
(Sean Krajacic-Pool/Getty Images)

Vanity Fair went so far as to call Schroeder “the actual worst,” listing the ringtone as a “coup de grâce.”

The accusations escalated when frequent MSNBC guest Elie Mystal called Schroeder a “racist” judge for having a “Trump rally cellphone” ring.

“He has made a series of decisions, each one perhaps may be defensible but in totality lead to the impression of a biased, racist judge with his Trump rally cellphone that is trying to get Rittenhouse a walk,” Mystal said. 

On Thursday, the attacks against Schroeder increased after he made a joke about the supply chain crisis before recessing.

“Let’s hope for 1 o’clock. I don’t know. I hope the Asian food isn’t coming…isn’t on one of those boats from Long Beach Harbor,” Schroeder said.

Critics accused the judge of making a joke as a slight against Asian people rather than a reference to the ongoing California port issues.

Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder addresses the jury pool at the start of jury selection on the first day of trial for Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wis., Circuit Court Monday Nov. 1, 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)

CNN field reporter Julia Vargas Jones said “the media room let out a collective gasp” when the judge made the comments.

“This dude should just put on the hood and show off his Halloween costume,” Daily Beast columnist Wajahat Ali tweeted.

Frequent MSNBC guest Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding went on a lengthy Twitter thread starting with” Racist, me thinks, the judge, is. Murder trial judge for #KyleRittenhouse says—‘I hope the Asian food isn’t coming on one of those boats from Long Beach Harbor’. What a complete joke and circus this #KyleRittenhouseTrial now is.”

CNN wrote in an article that even though the judge “appeared” to be referring to the supply chain backlogs in California, the “off-color joke” is still “offensive” and “perceived as anti-Asian” by some. 

“Schroeder, the longest-serving active judge in Wisconsin’s trial courts, appeared to be referring to the supply chain backlogs caused by congestion problems in California ports. But his comments were offensive and perceived as anti-Asian by some and as placing blame on Asian people for a large-scale event,” the article read.

Kyle Rittenhouse testifies during cross examination in his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)
(Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)

Earlier in the week, liberals called Schroeder biased after he rebuked the prosecution for attempting to introduce testimony that was excluded from the trial.

Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, faces several charges, including two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, following his shooting of three men in Kenosha, Wisconsin during the protests that erupted after the Jacob Blake police shooting.

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