Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz publicly backed Kyle Rittenhouse in part because of the media’s misrepresentation of his character. Over the weekend the often embattled politician faced similar treatment by blogging critics.
An article by Northwest Florida’s local ABC station, WEAR-TV, talked about how Matt Gaetz was publicly supporting Kyle Rittenhouse the day before the jury decision to acquit him.
The piece described it as "rhetoric" and claimed a "majority" of Northwest Floridians opposed Gaetz’s comment about being willing to hire Rittenhouse as an congressional intern. They added some quotes from locals both for and against Gaetz — but added a poll conducted by WEAR-TV’s Twitter account at the bottom.
Gaetz posted a screenshot of the article in question, calling it "one of the greatest local media self-owns I’ve ever seen."
"Around three-fourths of votes said they do not stand with Gaetz's statement," the WEAR-TV preemptively concluded.
The local news station still hasn’t updated the piece to accurately reflect the final results: 84.3 percent said YES in supporting Gaetz’s Rittenhouse comment, versus 15.7 percent in the NO category, out of 3831 votes total.
Neither of Matt Gaetz’s Twitter accounts seemed to have engaged in any vote meddling while the WEAR-TV poll was going on. Both his official and personal pages only acknowledged the poll’s existence as of Sunday.
The Twitter poll was open for 24 hours (the default option on the platform). The initial timestamp when it was first posted says 6:42 PM (time zones vary) November 18th, and a closer look reveals a commenter at 5:09 PM on November 19th said "one hour left" in quoting WEAR-TV’s tweet.
Internet polls are not the best approach since anyone internationally can participate in the process. The writer of the WEAR-TV, John Rupolo, could’ve avoided this by sticking to the replies on his personal account asking the question.
Further, the timing is what likely impacted the results. The public’s attention about the Kyle Rittenhouse trial peaked at the moment when a jury in Kenosha exonerated him of all charges. In the afternoon of last Friday, everyone was either reacting to the verdict, or reacting to other people’s reactions.
It wasn’t the only instance of online media taking jabs at Rep. Gaetz. The Daily Dot ran a claim that Gaetz hoped "Kyle Rittenhouse has friends who are underage girls" in a headline last week amid an ongoing investigation into such claims.
The National Pulse explored the background of both the piece’s author and casted doubt on the sources used after Microsoft’s MSN aggregated it onto their site.