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The MRC's Ironic Promotion Of RFK Jr.'s Presidential Campaign, Part 1

The Media Research Center doesn't actually want Robert Kennedy Jr. to be president -- it's just hoping that his Democratic campaign might damage President Biden's re-election efforts.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 11/17/2023

Robert Kennedy Jr.

Robert Kennedy Jr. is one of the Media Research Center's favorite so-called victims of "big tech" because his anti-vaccine conspiracy theories keep getting called out for the misinformation the are (which the MRC dishonestly portrays as "censorship") -- for instance, ConWebWatch has noted how the MRC portrayed Kennedy as a victim of its totally imaginary "secondhand censorship" metric. But Kennedy has presidential ambitions, and the MRC would like to help -- not because they want him to win, of course, but because they think he might hurt President Biden's re-election chances, like Kennedy's other ConWeb boosters. Here's how it did so early in his campaign:

An April 22 post by Alex Christy complained that a reporter dismissed Kennedy as "token primary opposition" to Biden.

Curtis Houck made an April 28 appearance on Fox News, where he noted that Kennedy did an interview with ABC News but that "they edited out what they considered to be misinformation on the negative health effects of vaccines," insisting that Kennedy's "speech shouldn't be silenced." He was joined by another MRC staffer, Stephanie Hamill, who insisted that ABC doing so was "an egregious violation of journalistic ethics" and that, according to the anonymously written writeup of the appearance, "Kennedy is running for president and should have a right to share his views." A May 10 post touting the latest wildly inflated bogus "secondhand censorship" numbers declared that "Even Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. noted that censorship is “a direct assault on our democracy.”

When Instagram restored Kennedy's account after suspending it over his misinformation, Luis Cornelio cheered in a June 5 post:

Big Tech is back at it with election interference, this time anti-free speech platform Instagram admitting that it suspended a presidential candidate’s account over an “error.”

In exclusive comments to MRC Free Speech America, a spokesperson for Instagram parent company Meta admitted that Instagram had censored Democratic Party presidential primary candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The spokesperson claimed, “[W]ith respect to the below: this was an error, which we corrected.” The spokesperson also shared with MRC Free Speech America staff a link to an article at The Washington Post with the following misleading headline: “Instagram reinstates Robert Kennedy Jr. after launch of presidential bid.”

Kennedy Jr., who is challenging President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination for president in 2024, blasted Instagram over what he labeled “undemocratic” censorship in a series of Twitter posts. “To silence a major political candidate is profoundly undemocratic,” the Democrat politician wrote in a tweet. “Social media is the modern equivalent of the town square. How can democracy function if only some candidates have access to it?”

The Post’s article featured a comment from Andy Stone, a spokesman for Meta saying, “As he is now an active candidate for president of the United States, we have restored access to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s, Instagram account.” Kennedy Jr.’s account was initially suspended over alleged COVID-19 vaccine misinformation violations on February 11, 2021.

Note that Cornelio is incapable of admitting that Kennedy spreads misinformation -- as if there is no objective definition of it -- even though he linked to an Associated Press article that specifically identified the misinformation he spread.

P.J. Gladnick spent a June 6 post complaining that the media will report the truth about RFK Jr.'s wacky (but dangerous) conspiracy theories:

Wouldn't it be nice to run for political office confident in the knowledge that the lapdog press will act on your behalf by attacking your primary opponent? Republicans can't imagine it. But Democrats rely on the press to serve as unofficial agents of their campaign and attack their opponents, allowing them to pretend to remain above the fray.

That's the plan for Joe Biden. According to Tuesday's "Politico Playbook," he and his team will rely on the aid of the self-styled "objective" press to attack Robert F. Kennedy Jr on his behalf while comfortably ignoring him as revealed in"What do you do with a problem like RFK Jr.?"
Biden world’s plan is to ignore him. The overwhelming sense inside the campaign and White House orbits is that any other posture would elevate him from a gadfly with a good name to a genuine contender.

They are counting on reporters and other Democrats to do the work of informing voters about Kennedy’s well-established views. Once that happens, as one Democratic strategist put it to us, they will “realize he’s running in the wrong party.” (This person, like others who spoke about Kennedy, did so on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly about strategy.)
Yes. Joe Biden can relax at his Delaware beach house during the 2024 presidential primary elections because, according to Politico, the press has his back and will attack RFK, Jr. while Joe stares at the sea from his patio. No debates are necessary, just an occasional attack piece.

And how will Biden's loyal press attack RFK,Jr.? By portraying him as like a Steve Bannon prank candidate, despite his generally liberal Democrat views:

Gladnick made sure not to mention Kennedy's anti-vaxxer conspiracy theories -- probably because he knows that they aren't part of Kennedy's allegedly "generally liberal Democrat views."

Catherine Salgado played the victim card for Kennedy in a June 7 post:

The Big Tech censors are piling on with their anti-free speech election interference, as YouTube again targets Democratic Party presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

YouTube deleted yet another interview of Robert F. Kennedy Jr as the platform continues to join with other Big Tech companies censoring the Democrat presidential candidate. The video, still accessible through The Wayback Machine, has been removed by YouTube, which now has a notice saying the interview violated “Community Guidelines.” The platform has not yet given further explanation.

Trending Politics News co-owner Colin Rugg tweeted June 5, “During a podcast with Mike Tyson, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. talked about how the CIA killed his father. YouTube has now deleted the video. The elites don’t want you to watch this.” The tweet included a video clip of the censored interview, from Matt Orfalea.

This is hardly the first time Big Tech has censored Kennedy. Kennedy recently slammed Big Tech censorship, tweeting, “To silence a major political candidate is profoundly undemocratic. Social media is the modern equivalent of the town square. How can democracy function if only some candidates have access to it?”

Luis Cornelio kept up the victimhood narrative in a June 19 post:

In yet another example of election interference, the leftist media are once again attempting a phony plot to ban The Joe Rogan Experience podcast from Spotify.

Joe Rogan, one of the nation's most popular pro-free speech podcasters, triggered a wave of leftist outrage after an interview with Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The pair discussed several topics, including the potential negative consequences of COVID-19 vaccines. But leftist outlets Vice and The Verge painted the interview as spewing so-called vaccine misinformation and criticized Spotify for airing Rogan’s highly-acclaimed podcast.

Vice published a news article headlined, “Spotify Has Stopped Even Sort of Trying to Stem Joe Rogan’s Vaccine Misinformation.” In the article, Vice accused Spotify of allowing an “orgy of unchecked vaccine misinformation.” The Verge followed suit, dubiously claiming that Spotify has done “nothing” to prevent Rogan from peddling what it claimed to be alleged “vaccine misinformation.”

“The leftist media is at it again,” said MRC Free Speech America Director Michael Morris. “It’s not enough that Big Tech and Big Media silenced Americans during the pandemic in the lead up to and after the 2020 presidential election. Now the leftist media is attempting to silence a Democratic presidential candidate for daring to question the COVID-19 orthodoxy. Whether you agree or disagree with Joe Rogan or RFK Jr., the answer to bad speech is not censorship; it’s more speech.”

But if you're spouting dangerous misinformation about important medical issues, "free speech" isn't the issue, and Cornelio and Morris are dishonestly insisting that lies and misinformation should never be countered -- and that there is no objective definition of misinformation, given its liberal use of qualifiers as "so-called" and "alleged" -- as well as pretending that Kennedy has never been proven to have been a spreader of lies and misinformation. Also note that Cornelio and Morris make no effort to prove anything Kennedy said to be correct or to prove anything Vice and The Verge said to be false.

Cornelio then bought into the manufactured controversy that sprung from this appearance:

Dr. Peter Hotez, one of the nation’s leading pro-vaccine advocates, tweeted Vice’s article and complained that Spotify did not censor Rogan. Hotez wrote in a tweet: “?[J]ust awful. And from all the online attacks I’m receiving after this absurd podcast, it’s clear many actually believe this nonsense.”

But Dr. Hotez’s support of leftist Vice’s and The Verge’s tantrums did not appear to go as planned. Rogan offered $100,000 if Dr. Hotez debated RFK Jr. on vaccines. “Peter, if you claim what RFKjr is saying is ‘misinformation’ I am offering you $100,000.00 to the charity of your choice if you’re willing to debate him on my show with no time limit,” Rogan said in a now-viral tweet on Saturday.

Rogan’s offer was supported by other Twitter personalities who pledged to donate more than $2.6 million to charity if the highly controversial doctor agreed to debate RFK Jr. Valuetainment Founder Patrick Bet-David and podcast host Tim Pool were among those who pledged to donate $100,000 to a charity of Hotez’s choice.

Rather than debating his point, Dr. Hotez took to MSNBC’S Mehdi Hasan Show to complain about the so-called misinformation. During the interview, leftist host Mehdi Hasan whined about Rogan’s offer, claiming, “I don’t know if you’d agree to debate or not. My advice is not to, and people might find that surprising because I wrote a book about debate, but I just think there is a time and a place for a debate.”

Hasan, in the spirit of Vice and The Verge, compared those who oppose vaccine mandates to Holocaust deniers, adding, “I don’t think a historian of World War II should debate a Holocaust denier. [Indiscernible.] That’s ... that’s my analogy here. Like, I don’t think these debates between experts and cranks do anything other than elevate the cranks.”

Cornelio didn't explain how Vice and The Verge pointing out Kennedy's history of spreading medical misinformation makes them "leftist." He also doesn't seem to understand that scientific facts are not adjudicated by a public debate; they are proven or disproven by research. Also, there's no evidence Kennedy would be an honest debater.

Intern Bethany Kawalec complained that Kennedy's misinformation was held to account elsewhere in a June 20 post:

No strangers to controversy, Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and podcaster Dr. Jordan Peterson again face the blast of YouTube’s ire.

YouTube once again meddled in the 2024 election when it removed yet another interview of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (D) Saturday. In an interview with world-renowned psychologist Peterson, the pair discussed a range of topics including Kennedy’s presidential campaign, vaccines and the alleged dominance of pharmaceutical companies. YouTube told MRC Free Speech America in a statement that it "removed a video from the Jordan Peterson channel for violating YouTube’s general vaccine misinformation policy, which prohibits content that alleges that vaccines cause chronic side effects, outside of rare side effects that are recognized by health authorities."

It appears that YouTube may have censored the interview due to Kennedy’s comments on a since retracted Rolling Stone article in which he wrote about “the links between autism and vaccines.”


This attack on free speech and America’s electoral process is just the most recent battle in a barrage of YouTube censorship.

Kawalec is being dishonest about the vaccine-autism link, suggesting it dates back to a 2005 Rolling Stone article and ignoring that Kennedy has continued to promote the false link ever since. And like Cornelio, Kawalec refuses to acknowledge that Kennedy's medical misinformation has been repeatedly discredited. She also failed to note that Peterson is a right-wing darling or explain why she and Peterson care so much about a Democratic candidate.

Both Cornelio and Kawalec showed the dishonest why the MRC plans to approach the 2024 presidential election: by framing any attempt to fact-check a Republican candidate (or one convenient to Republican narratives like Kennedy) as "election interference." It doesn't matter if the candidate is lying through his (or her) teeth -- it's wrong to point that out. Expect to see a lot more of this highly dishonest talking point over the next year and a half.

The MRC did sneak in a rare criticism of Kennedy, however, in a July 6 post by Salgado:

Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. clearly identified the problem of social media censorship but has a potentially dangerous solution.

Kennedy, who is running for Democratic presidential nomination, slammed Big Tech censorship while appearing on actor and show host Russell Brand’s podcast. “There has never been a time in history when the people who were censoring free speech” were “good guys,” he told Brand, arguing later that once free speech is violated, all other rights will follow. But he also announced his plan to launch a government-owned social media platform if he cannot otherwise end censorship. 

“RFK is coming up with creative solutions to a terrible problem,” said VP of MRC Free Speech America Dan Schneider. “We appreciate the effort, but, of course, government controlling the platforms for speech will always be taken over by the left.”

Salgado went on to complain:

Kennedy Jr.’s plan for government to be policeman for social media is too risky for free speech, especially since he has repeatedly emphasized his intention to seek advice from anti-free speech Big Tech executives and given his recent antagonism to a pro-freedom group. Kennedy publicly critiqued parental rights group Moms for Liberty and refused to appear at their highly acclaimed conference last week because the group opposed LGBTQ+ propaganda in schools. 

Yes, Salgado believes that a group dedicated to censoring what students learn in schools is somehow a "pro-freedom group."

Cleanup after anti-Semitic remark

The MRC began its runup to Kennedy's appearance before Congress by trying to do some cleanup of an inflammatory comment he made. Ana Schau was stuck playing whataboutism in a July 18 post:

CNN This Morning host Phil Mattingly had Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) on Tuesday morning’s program to discuss several different issues, notably the recent anti-Semitic statements from Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). Together they lamented Republicans calling out Democrats and tried to tie the anti-Semitic comments from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to House Republicans despite him running for president as a Democrat.

Mattingly introduced the subject by asking Slotkin about Jayapal and “the statement that she made about Israel being a racist nation.”

But Jayapal's statement is not "anti-Semitic" -- it's simply critical of Israel. Not all criticism of Israeli is anti-Semitic, and Schau made no effort to prove Jayapal's statement is. By contrast, Schau did not repeat the statement Kennedy made -- that the COVID virus was "ethnically targeted" not to infect Jews -- which is much more clearly anti-Semitic.

Also, it's quite easy to associate Kennedy with Republicans given that they are the only ones actively promoting his candidacy -- and that includes the MRC. Schau didn't mention that inconvenient fact, of course. (It's also a sign that he's serving Republican purposes that Fox News barely mentioned his Jewish conspiracy theory, which is not something he would ignore if he were a genuine Democratic candidate.) Instead, she labored to counterfactually distance Kennedy from Republicans, even though they were the ones who invited him to the upcoming hearing:

Mattingly was the one who put the name to the person when he asked specifically about Kennedy’s invitation to testify from Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), seeming to think that this invitation linked them together in an anti-Semitic ideology somehow.

He said that, despite McCarthy’s statement that he disagreed with Kennedy’s opinion on the matter, “there’s a difference between censoring somebody and inviting them to testify at a hearing,” and asked Slotkin if the Republicans were not as “uneasy” about Kennedy’s statement as they should have been.

The assumption that McCarthy and the other House Republicans agreed with Kennedy simply because they had invited him for a testimony in a case is an absurd assumption. It would be like assuming that Jack Smith or any other investigator for the January 6th hearings agreed with Trump simply because they had some of his supporters there to testify in the case.

If Kennedy is not serving Republican desires by running, why is Schau working so hard to distance his anti-Semitism from Republicans?

The next day, Gabriela Pariseau ramped up the MRC's victimhood narrative, whining that Kennedy had been "censored" -- then cheered McCarthy for not disinviting him from the hearing over his anti-Semitic remarks:

Big Tech has censored 2024 Democratic Party presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at least 10 times over a span of three months, but apparently, that is not enough for the left.

Kennedy is no stranger to censorship. Big Tech companies have already interfered in the 2024 presidential election and have censored Kennedy no fewer than 10 times between April and June 2023, according to MRC’s exclusive database. YouTube committed the majority of the censorship as it removed no fewer than eight videos from its platform for violating its “Community Guidelines.” In the videos, Kennedy repeatedly spoke on controversial topics like COVID-19 and claimed that the CIA killed his father. Twitter additionally added context or Community Notes to two of Kennedy’s posts.

Kennedy is set to testify at a House Judiciary hearing on censorship Thursday, but he has recently come under fire for comments claiming that COVID-19 was an ethnically targeted bioweapon that does not affect certain Jewish and Chinese people. As a result, Congressional Integrity Project Executive Director Kyle Herrig and over 100 members of Congress have all called for Kennedy to be uninvited from speaking to the committee, arguing that Kennedy has a history of making offensive claims. But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, in the spirit of free speech, has not caved to the left’s pressure.

Pariseau also got mad that Twitter's Community Notes were used to call out a Kennedy lie:

Twitter has also posted Community Notes under a couple of Kennedy’s posts. In one case, Kennedy was actually drawing attention to the fact that ABC had censored portions of an interview he gave them. “47 USC 315 makes it illegal for TV networks to censor Presidential candidates but Thursday, ABC showed its contempt for the law, democracy, and its audience by cutting most of the content of my interview with host Linsey Davis leaving only cherry-picked snippets and a defamatory disclaimer,” Kennedy tweeted.

The Community Note, however, claimed that Kennedy misunderstood the statute he referred to. "47 USC 315’s censorship prohibition applies only when candidates 'use a broadcasting station'. The law explicitly exempts newscasts & news interviews, which are allowed to censor," the note read.

The MRC considers Community Notes to be "censorship" when used to correct falsehoods made by right-wingers (and Kennedy).

Alex Christy tried to do more cleanup via whataboutism of Kennedy's anti-Semitic remark, again invoking Jayapal's non-equivalent criticism of Israel, in a July 21 post:

A befuddled Scott Jennings was forced to correct Rolling Stone’s Jay Michaelson on Thursday’s CNN Tonight when the former claimed that he couldn’t recall someone with “such anti-Semitic ideas getting this kind of platform” when referring to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee. Jennings politely reminded Michaelson that “It's platformed every day in the Democrat conference.”

Alluding to Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s remarks that Israel is a racist state, Michaelson, who is also a non-denominational rabbi, alleged, “But it's outrageous that there is, I think, perhaps a double standard that when somebody who spouts anti-Semitism is useful to a party in power, they get a platform. And when someone says something which may or may not, maybe sort of anti-Semitic, thinking, you know, the congresswoman from last week, you know, they get censured.”

Michaelson added, “So, this is a shocking display, I think, of -- I can't think of someone who has espoused-- someone-- such anti-Semitic ideas getting such this kind of a platform.”

There is no doubt that RFK Jr. is a kook and that his latest comments about COVID being “ethnically targeted” to protect Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people is just the latest example of that, but host Sara Sidner noticed Jennings wasn’t buying the larger point, “Scott, you made a face and don't think I didn't notice it.”

If Kennedy is such a "kook," why is the MRC so desperate to defend him and deflect criticism from him? Christy didn't answer that question.

When Michaelson pointed out that Japayal's remarks were not, in fact, anti-Semitic like Kennedy's, Christy helped Jennings push his narrative:

Michaelson then tried to defend himself, claiming that Jayapal’s comments are not even close to as bad as Kennedy’s, “Scott, there is no comparison between a statement, which I think was out of line, saying Israel is a racist state. That is a political statement. It is not one that I agree with. I think it's extreme and I've said it again in the column for CNN why I think that's incorrect... But to compare a sort of extreme political statement with, again, a thousand-year-old claim that Jews somehow engineered plagues to kill non-Jews, that's a crazy false equivalence. They're totally different.”

Jennings shot back by informing Michaelson that he was moving the goal posts, “No, your statement was you had never heard of anti-Semitism being platformed like this in the U.S. Congress. It's platformed every day in the Democrat conference.”

Again, Michaelson tried to suggest Jayapal’s remarks were different, “That's only if you agree that a statement about Israel which, again, I'm not agreeing with that statement or endorsing it, is anti-Semitic. It's a political statement... And so, for this guy to get on, you know, to get a platform after saying that like the Jews are immune and that this was targeted and it's some sort of a bioweapon, I'm sorry, but to compare that to one statement saying Israel is a racist state, that's no comparison.”

It is not just Jayapal, as Jennings recalled, “It's not one statement. That corner of the party makes repeated statements, but sorry.”

Jennings is, of course, correct. Elected progressives say anti-Semitic things routinely under the guise of criticizing Israel and, unlike RFK Jr., they actually hold positions of power.

Christy did not explain how, exactly, Jayapal's remark was anti-Semitic, and he offered no examples to support his contention that Jennings "is, of course, correct."

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