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Newsmax Cheerleads For RFK Jr.

Newsmax is boosting Robert Kennedy Jr.'s presidential campaign because it might hurt President Biden's re-election, not because it actually wants him to win.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 11/22/2023

Robert Kennedy Jr.

As with fellow ConWeb outlets like the Media Research Center, Newsmax is trying to boost the presidential campaign of Robert Kennedy Jr. Not because it actually wants him to be president, of course -- he's running as a Democrat, despite spouting right-wing views and conspiracy theories -- but because he could act as a spoiler to President Biden's re-election by running on his family name. (Newsmax is also sympathetic to his anti-vaxxer conspiracy theories; for example, a 2015 article uncritically forwarded them.)

When Kennedy made his ambitions known, Newsmax surprisingly published an April 10 article noting that the rest of the Kennedy family opposed his candidacy because of penchant for conspiracy theories involving vaccines and other things. But that was quickly forgotten as it became clear how useful he to be to the right-wingers at Newsmax. Shortly after announcing his candidacy, Kennedy landed an interview on a Newsmax TV program to bash Democrats:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a 2024 Democratic candidate for president, told Newsmax that the party appears to have lost its will and capacity to fix the United States.

Joining "The Record with Greta Van Susteren" on Tuesday, Kennedy Jr. criticized the direction of the party his family has contributed to for over 100 years.


Kennedy Jr. further lambasted the Democratic Party's role in ignoring the country's heartland, like East Palestine, Ohio, and facilitating the destruction of the middle class.

"The Democratic Party seems to have lost its bearings and, you know, lost its will or even the capacity to think about changing the system," Kennedy Jr. explained.

Newsmax gave Kennedy another platform to bash Democrats on May 2:

Democrats are engaging in censorship and enveloped in a "woke" culture that's "about canceling people rather than engaging them in discourse and having no boundaries on the things we're allowed to talk about," said Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

"I feel like I'm a traditional Democrat," Kennedy said Friday during an appearance on Newsmax's "American Agenda."

Kennedy appeared again on May 4:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a 2024 Democratic presidential candidate, told Newsmax that the party should allow primary debates even with President Joe Biden running again.

Joining "Rob Schmitt Tonight" on Thursday, Kennedy said he should be able to challenge Biden publicly on foreign wars, Wall Street regulations, and the censorship of ordinary Americans.

A May 6 article by Nick Koutsobinas hyped how Kennedy "will make his debut appearance as a presidential candidate at a cryptocurrency conference in Miami later this month." A day later, Newsmax noted Kennedy claiming that there's "overwhelming evidence" that the CIA killed his uncle, President John F. Kennedy.

Newsmax even hyped Republican Devin Nunes complaining that Democrats and the "propaganda fake news" were ignoring Kennedy. It also promoted polls that made Kennedy look good:

Trump sycophant and terminally wrong Newsmax pundit Dick Morris basically gave away the game by using a May 2 Newsmax appearance to explain how Trump should exploit Kennedy's campaign for his own benefit:

A campaign for the 2024 Democrat presidential nomination by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has "struck a chord" with the establishment's left and is making people nervous, and former President Donald Trump would do well to use that to his advantage, including in his upcoming CNN town hall, political strategist Dick Morris said Tuesday on Newsmax.

"I think the anger is just nervousness," Morris, a former presidential adviser and host of Newsmax's "Dick Morris Democracy," said on "John Bachman Now." "I have some advice for Trump that I'd like to give you over the air and I'll give to him over the phone. I believe that Robert Kennedy has struck a chord that could be enormously attractive to potential voters for Trump, particularly those who watch CNN."

Morris said Kennedy is using the "same rhetoric" against the deep state, Big Government, and high tech that conservatives use.

"He talks about genetic engineering, genetically modified foods, pesticides, forced vaccinations, and all kinds of stuff like that," said Morris. "These are issues that Donald Trump believes in. Those are issues where he would agree with Robert Kennedy, and they're issues that cut completely across the political spectrum."

Morris that while most assume that the political spectrum is flat, "it's not. It's round."

"The left and the right join against the center, and I think that is the formula that Trump needs to use to attract the 'anti-Trumpers' who are not really anti-Trump," said Morris. "They watch CNN and could well be persuaded because he's willing to go with other studies," including on big pharma.

On May 10, though, Newsmax had to report Kennedy's denial that he might share a ticket with Trump.

Summer of defending Kennedy

That promotion -- and amping up of his alleged victimhood over his anti-vaxxer conspiracy theories being fact-checked -- continued over the summer:

Newsmax even uncritically touted Kennedy insisting that Russia has been "acting in good faith" when it comes to ending invasion of Ukraine, even though Newsmax has been a vocal supporter of Ukraine.

Newsmax also played cleanup for Kennedy after he made the bizarre claim that the COVID-19 virus was "ethnically targeted" to spare Jews. After running a wire article critical of Kennedy, it gave him airtime on Newsmax TV to defend himself:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told Newsmax on Thursday that he has never been antisemitic and a smear campaign against him is trying to censor him from speaking out about the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and other topics.

"I said this under oath today because I'm so angry at those charges," Kennedy, who testified earlier in the day before the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, told "The Record With Greta Van Susteren."

"In my entire life, I have never uttered a single antisemitic phrase, word or anything, or racist [phrase]. Because of my family, and because I've spent a lot of time in Israel, and I have an organization over there, my support for Israel is stronger than anybody on Capitol Hill.


During the hearing, Democrats grilled Kennedy over reported comments he made that the COVID-19 vaccine was ethnically targeted to affect whites and Blacks and spare Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese. He claimed he was referring to how the U.S. and other governments are developing ethnically targeted bioweapons and that a 2021 study of the coronavirus showed that COVID-19 appears to disproportionately affect certain races.

"I've been smeared using phrases that were taken completely out of context and attributing meanings to them that I never intended, and it's a way of censoring me," Kennedy said.

The study Kennedy cited, however, said nothing about the virus being "ethnically targeted." The Newsmax article did not explain what, exactly, was purportedly taken out of context. The article also did not mention that Kennedy previously claimed that opponents of vaccine mandates (like himself) had it worse than Anne Frank during the Holocaust; Kennedy eventually apologized for that.

Newsmax did more cleanup for Kennedy after his July 20 congressional appearance, in an article by Solange Reyner:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s 2021 tweet about the death of baseball legend Hank Aaron after he received a COVID-19 vaccine was just "pointing out facts," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, argued Thursday during a GOP-led hearing on government censorship by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

"When you look at Mr. Kennedy's tweet, there was nothing there that was factually inaccurate. Hank Aaron, real person, great American, passed away after he got the vaccine. Pointing out, just pointing out facts," Jordan said in opening remarks while discussing an email the White House sent to Twitter to request Kennedy's tweet be taken down.

In fact, Aaron died of natural causes, not the vaccine, which means Kennedy was lying by suggesting otherwise.

Newsmax found a Jewish person -- right-wing rabbi Shmuley Boteach -- to defend Kennedy and help him do more cleanup in a July 24 TV appearance:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told Newsmax that the New York Society for Ethical Culture canceled an event between him and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach less than 24 hours out.

Appearing Monday alongside Boteach on "Eric Bolling The Balance," Kennedy theorized that the group was "under pressure" to pull the plug on the discussion, which he believes qualifies as a presidential forum.

Kennedy has been under the ire of criticism this past week for recent comments he made suggesting that an argument exists for COVID-19 being a bioweapon that "ethnically targeted" white and Black people.


Boteach defended Kennedy during his Monday appearance on Newsmax, emphasizing that "stifling freedom of speech is an abomination to American values.

"All of us should be concerned about the kind of country that we are now living in," Boteach said. "That a presidential series, featuring candidates from the major parties ... is canceled by an organization.

"Whatever you think about Robert Kennedy, he is not an antisemite. That is a reputational lynching. It's a lie," he continued, insisting that they will hold the society "very accountable to the damages they've inflicted."

Newsmax repeated Kennedy's claim that he was just quoting from a study (which, again, didn't make that claim) and that he said he "never, ever suggested that the COVID-19 virus was targeted to spare Jews" (which is exactly what he did).

Newsmax also gave Kennedy space to whine on July 28 that he was not being given Secret Service protection, which is given only to "major" candidates -- something he has not yet proven himself to be. A paywalled Aug. 1 article, though, seemed to admit that Kennedy was pushing this claim as "a bid to try to win over voters as he seeks to topple the sitting president in his party's primary, political strategists say."

There were a few instances in which Newsmax treated Kennedy like the Democrat he claims to be. A July 12 article by Nicole Wells repeated an Axios report that Kennedy "is flouting established party custom by selling merchandise that is not made in America or by union workers." An Aug. 15 article by Jeffrey Rodack noted confusion over Kennedy's position on abortion after saying he supported government restrictions on it (which warranted a second article as well); his campaign later had to issue a clarification of his stance. An Aug. 30 article by Nick Koutsobinas, however, highlighted one of the few views on which Kennedy is actually like a Democrat, calling for government-subsidized home loans.

Newsmax also let slip through a July 26 column by Ralph Benko, who took offense to Kennedy's claiming that COVID spares Jews: "Bobby lost me by showing too much patriarch Joseph and too little Jack, Teddy or Bobby," going on to advise Kennedy to "use his presidential candidacy to crusade against another scandal," the skyrocketing prison population.

Columnists cheer RFK Jr.

Newsmax's "news" side isn't the only part of the organization to give Robert Kennedy Jr.'s presidential campaign a boost in the hope that it might interfere with President Biden's re-election plans -- its columnists have been happy to hype him as well. Jeff Crouere used his May 1 column to defend Kennedy over a TV outlet declining to air his anti-vaxxer conspiracy theories:

ABC News obviously did not care for the claims that Kennedy was making about vaccines and the pharmaceutical industry. According to Kennedy, “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.”

The censorship involved Kennedy’s comments about the government’s actions during the COVID pandemic. He said, he will be “happy to supply citations to support every statement I made” and lamented that “Instead of journalism, the public saw a hatchet job. Instead of information, they got defamation and unsheathed Pharma propaganda.”

In his response to such blatant censorship, Kennedy asked, “How can democracy function without a free and unbiased press?” If elected President, Kennedy promised to “free FCC from its corporate captors and force the agency to follow the law by revoking the licenses of networks that put the mercantile ambitions of advertisers ahead of the public interest.”

Of course, a "free and unbiased press" also means that the media is allowed to choose what it publishes and airs. Crouere would freak out if Newsmax was ordered to air all points of view.

In his May 2 column, Daniel McCarthy touted how President Biden "has to contend with a real Kennedy for next year's Democratic presidential nomination," then hyped how he went conspiratorial over assassinations of family members, noting that "He's convinced Sirhan Sirhan did not fire the fatal shots" that killed his father and that "He also holds the CIA culpable for the murder of his uncle in Dealey Plaza 60 years ago." McCarthy then insisted that Kennedy's penchant for conspiracy theories is somehow noble and that his family name legitimizes them:

Robert Kennedy Jr.'s penchant for "conspiracy theories" leads Biden-friendly commentators and political strategists to dismiss him.

He threatens to spoil their myth that Republicans are the crazy party, whether or not he poses any risk to Biden.

But in fact conspiracy theories have as much of a home in the Democratic Party as in the GOP, if not more of one.

The difference is that Democratic conspiracy theories, such as those alleging Russian responsibility for the election of Donald Trump in 2016, often come with the imprimatur of prestigious media outlets.

RFK Jr., on the other hand, is a Democrat whose conspiratorial beliefs don't dependably align with the elite media's prejudices.

He's long believed that vaccines contribute to autism. And he's a fiery critic of Anthony Fauci and the response by government and the medical establishment to COVID-19.

Views like those are supposed to be the province of QAnon, not Democratic primary voters, according to the commentators who routinely burnish the party's image — and tarnish the GOP's.

But the guardians of the Democratic Party's respectability are in for a rude awakening.

The Kennedy name, Biden's weakness and the profound distrust millions of Americans feel toward institutions such as the CIA, the media and the pharmaceutical companies will make RFK Jr. formidable.

McCarthy concluded by insisting that RFK Jr. is the real "Kennedy dream":

Biden, leader of a party whose liberalism is very different, hid behind the Kennedy dream.

RFK Jr. takes that away. And the bottomless sense of betrayal that animates Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an epitaph for a generation.

Boomer Democrats loved the American dream. But they failed the real America.
A May 12 syndicated column by Mona Charen, however, deviated from the agenda. She noted Kennedy's penchant for conspiracy theories and his offensive claim that COVID vaccine mandates were like the Holocaust, adding that "he cost tens of thousands of Americans their lives thanks to minimizing the seriousness of COVID." She declaring that he "belongs in the select company of major figures who have used their power for harm. Perhaps he isn't quite right in the head. Who knows?" But she also admitted that he "appeals to significant numbers of Americans, and particularly to those who have always been on the other side of the aisle." Unlike with Crouere's and McCarthy's columns, though, Newsmax felt the need to stick a disclaimer at the top of it stating that "The following is not an endorsement, on the part of Newsmax, of any political candidate, or political party" -- even though it's clear she was not endorsing Kennedy.
Taibbi defends RFK Jr.'s anti-vaxx attacks

Matt Taibbi threw away a lot of the credibility he had as a journalist by acting as Elon Musk's stenographer for his selectively edited "Twitter files." He has thrown away even more by appearing on Newsmax to defending Robert Kennedy Jr.'s anti-vaxxer conspiracies -- just one more part of Newsmax's summer of defending Kennedy. Jeremy Frankel summed up one appearance in a July 20 article:

Democrats who insist on censoring "disinformation" do not seem to understand the First Amendment or what free speech is, journalist Matt Taibbi told Newsmax on Thursday.

Taibbi, having testified before the U.S. House's Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government earlier this year about the Twitter Files, censorship, and the First Amendment, told "Eric Bolling The Balance" that it felt like "dejà vu" watching Democrat presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Jr. testify at Thursday's hearing before that same subcommittee.

"I had dejà vu watching the video because I obviously sat in that very same chair and testified in front of that same committee and met a lot of the same hostility from the same members who, similarly, didn't want to hear anything about censorship, didn't engage in the topic at all," Taibbi said.


"Judges over the years have specifically made the bar for intervention, government intervention in speech extremely high ... the standard is incitement to imminent lawless violence, which Robert F. Kennedy is nowhere near that, he hasn't even gotten anything wrong," Taibbi said. "As he points out, he's being criticized for something called 'malinformation,' which the Department of Homeland Security talks about, which is true information, but has a message they don't like very much.

Taibbi elaborated further in another Newsmax appearance, summed up in a July 24 article by Nicole Wells:

Independent journalist Matt Taibbi told Newsmax on Monday that the governmental entities that pushed censorship through Twitter prior to Elon Musk's ownership had to come up with a new category of misinformation to flag things like Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s tweet about suspicious deaths that were potentially linked to COVID-19 vaccines.

"They had to create a new genre of misinformation to cover things like RFK's tweet," Taibbi said during an appearance on Newsmax's "The Record with Greta Van Susteren." "They call it mal information, which is really, basically, true information that has what they think is an adverse political outcome, that might result in people not getting vaccinated. But there's no wrong fact in there, necessarily, which I think is a particularly dangerous form of censorship."

A new batch of Twitter Files released on Friday reveals that Twitter processed a request to review Kennedy's tweet in 2021 at the request of a law firm acting on behalf of Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.

The message included a screenshot of RFK Jr.'s tweet and said, "Hi team can you take a look at this tweet against our covid policy please?"

Note that Wells did not repeat the content of the Kennedy tweet in question -- in which he blamed the death of baseball great Hank Aaron on a COVID vaccine. And again, contrary to her assertion, Aaron's death was never "suspicious"; he died of natural causes at age 86. Taibbi lied as well by describing Kennedy's tweet as "basically, true information that has what they think is an adverse political outcome, that might result in people not getting vaccinated." It was never true that Aaron died of COVID, and Kennedy was deliberately misinforming people by suggesting otherwise.

(A few days earlier, Newsmax uncritically repeated Republican Rep. Jim Jordan's bogus claim that Kennedy's tweet was just 'pointing out facts.")

Wells also called Taibbi a "Twitter files journalist" -- in fact, he left the project months earlier amid an acrimonious falling-out with Elon Musk -- and an "independent journalist," even though there was nothing independent about his doing Musk's bidding.

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