Right-wing media is propping up Kennedy's primary challenge against Biden
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a conspiracy theorist who has promoted anti-vaccine conspiracy theories for decades, blames antidepressants for mass shootings, and believes 5G Wi-Fi causes cancer.
Media Matters reported in May that right-wing cable news is trying to play spoiler in the 2024 Democratic presidential primary by propping up the candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer and son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
Polling shows that Kennedy has a decent amount of support against President Joe Biden — likely because people associate him with his father RFK Sr. and his uncles, former President John F. Kennedy and former Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA).
But Kennedy’s conspiratorial beliefs put him among the ranks of such figures as far-right personality Alex Jones, who, the Independent reported in 2018, believes the Pentagon released chemicals in the water that he claims are turning “the friggin frogs gay” and that vaccines are dangerous.
Kennedy is a vocal anti-vaxxer who has spent decades spreading lies that vaccines cause injures and shatter lives, when in fact vaccines are responsible eradicating or reducing the spread of devastating diseases such as polio, smallpox, measles, and chicken pox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a recent appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast, Kennedy claimed to know people whose children “lost everything” because of vaccines, Newsweek reported,
“They’ll never, you know, hold a job. They’ll never pay taxes. Never write a poem. They’ll never throw a baseball. They’ll never go out on date with a girl or a boy. And they’ll never serve in the military,” Kennedy said, according to Newsweek. “You know their lives are so constricted, and the parents’ lives are also shattered.”
Kennedy also spread lies about lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, claiming that Dr. Anthony Fauci conspired with pharmaceutical companies to profit off of them.
Fauci responded to Kennedy’s comments by calling him a “very disturbed individual.”
Kennedy’s own family published an op-ed in Politico in 2019 condemning his beliefs. His brother Joseph Kennedy II, a former member of Congress from Massachusetts; his sister Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland; and his late niece Maeve Kennedy McKean, who was the executive director of Georgetown University’s Global Health Initiative, wrote that Kennedy “has helped to spread dangerous misinformation over social media and is complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines.”
But Kennedy’s conspiracy theories go beyond vaccines.
In a recent appearance on right-wing podcaster Jordan Peterson’s program, Kennedy said that chemical exposure is causing boys to have “sexual dysphoria” and depression.
“I mean, they’re swimming through a soup of toxic chemicals today, and many of those are endocrine disruptors,” Kennedy said. “There’s atrazine throughout our water supply. Atrazine, by the way, if you, in a lab, put atrazine in a tank full of frogs, it will chemically castrate and forcibly feminize every frog in there and 10% of the frogs, the male frogs, will turn into fully viable females able to produce viable eggs.”
During a podcast interview in May, he falsely claimed that drugs that treat depression and anxiety are causing mass shootings, a claim that has been shown by experts to be false.
“With all these shootings, nobody is looking at the pharmaceutical contribution to that,” Kennedy said on right-wing radio host Mark Steyn’s show. “Anecdotally it appears that almost every one of these shooters were on [S]SRIs or some other psychiatric drug. This is only happening in America, where all these people are taking these psychiatric drugs.”
What’s more, Kennedy claimed without evidence in the same podcast with Rogan that Wi-Fi causes cancer. People have been making false claims about connections between 5G cellphone technology and various diseases, including the coronavirus, since 5G was first announced.
“Wi-Fi radiation does all kinds of bad things, including causing cancer,” Kennedy said. “I’m representing hundreds of people who have cellphone tumors behind the ear, it’s always on the ear that you favor with your cellphone. And you know, we have the science. So if anybody lets us in front of a jury, it will be over.”
Kennedy added, “Wi-Fi radiation opens up your blood-brain barrier so all these toxins that are in your body can now go into your brain.”
Rogan pressed Kennedy to explain what that meant, and Kennedy replied, “Now you’re going beyond my expertise.”
A Quinnipiac University poll published June 14 found Kennedy garnering 17% in a Democratic primary against Biden, even though Kennedy’s beliefs are deeply unpopular among Democratic primary voters.
Polling shows Democrats overwhelmingly support vaccines. For example, Morning Consult’s tracker on the popularity of the COVID-19 vaccine shows that 86% of Democrats are vaccinated, compared to 62% of Republicans.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
Correction 6/22 at 9:25 A.M.: Changed the first paragraph to reflect that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an environmental lawyer, not a former member of Congress.
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