The MRC's Ironic Promotion Of RFK Jr.'s Presidential Campaign, Part 2
The Media Research Center continued to feign interest in Robert Kennedy Jr.'s campaign -- until he stopped running as a Democrat. Then it dropped him and latched onto another would-be Biden spoiler, Dean Phillips.
By Terry Krepel Posted 2/7/2024
Robert Kennedy Jr.
ConWebWatch reported how the Media Research Center embraced the presidential candidacy of Robert Kennedy Jr. -- as a potential Democratic spoiler to President Biden's re-election, not because it actually wants him to win. After trying to clean up after an anti-Semitic remark he made, the MRC was set for a blitz of coverage of Kennedy as the star witness at a July 20 Republican-led congressional hearing. He made sure to play the victim and repeat the MRC's "censorship" narrative, and the MRC made sure to flood the zone. Nicholas Schau was first up on the stenography beat:
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. dropped the hammer on Big Tech, particularly YouTube, for censoring free speech about important issues.
In his opening statement, Kennedy agreed with ranking member Stacey Plaskett that “this body ought to be concerning itself with the issues that impact directly the American people.” But, he retorted, “we can’t do that without the First Amendment, without debate.” Kennedy has been in a seemingly never-ending fight against a barrage of censorship by Big Tech platforms who colluded with federal entities to silence online free speech. But today the tables have turned, and the presidential candidate has been given a platform before the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.
Kennedy came out swinging at the hearing, which covered the notable trend in collusion between the federal government and Big Tech to censor American speech, according to the House Judiciary Committee website.
To illustrate the importance of free speech, Kennedy referred to how his campaign announcement speech was censored. He said that, in the speech, he “talked about… all the issues that deeply concern” Plaskett. However, despite this, Kennedy said that “five minutes into my speech, when I was talking about Paul Revere, YouTube de-platformed me.”
“I didn’t talk about vaccines in that speech. I didn’t talk about anything that was a forbidden subject. I just was talking about my campaign and things that, conversation that we ought to be having with each other as Americans, and I was shut down,” Kennedy said. “And that is why the First Amendment is important.”
Indeed, 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 CensorTrack.org database. YouTube, in particular, has censored Kennedy most prolifically in comparison to other platforms. A 2022 MRC Free Speech America study found that Kennedy’s accounts were repeatedly targeted for alleged “ false COVID-19 vaccine claims ” and “vaccine misinformation.”
Schau didn't explain why he apparently believes false information about COVID vaccines should be allowed to spread unchecked.
Gabriela Pariseau followed by attacking Plaskett for pointing out that Kennedy is an anti-vaxxer conspiracy theorist and apparent anti-Semite:
House Ranking member Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) kicked off Thursday’s hearings by railing against her committee for giving Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. a platform to share his experiences with Big Tech censorship.
In her remarks, Plaskett attempted to discredit Kennedy and the hearing entirely during a hearing before the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. Her comments came after she joined over 100 Members who tried to remove Kennedy from the witness list prior to the hearing.
He recently came under fire for comments claiming that COVID-19 was an ethnically targeted bioweapon that does not affect certain Jewish and Chinese people. Kennedy has been in a seemingly never-ending fight against a barrage of censorship by Big Tech platforms. But today the tables have turned, and the presidential candidate has been given a platform before Congress.
In an attempt to discredit Kennedy, Plaskett asked why the committee was Kennedy a platform. She said mockingly, “many of my Republican colleagues will rush to cover that they have Mr. Kennedy here because they want to protect his free speech, that they do not believe in American censorship.”
She went on to show her true colors when she seemed to dismiss the idea of Kennedy having the freedom to speak at a hearing about free speech. “This is not the kind of free speech that I know of, the free speech that is protected by the constitution’s First Amendment,” she said. “[F]ree speech is not an absolute. The Supreme Court has stated that and other’s free speech that is allowed hateful, abusive rhetoric does not need to be promoted in the halls of the people’s house.”
Plaskett went on to try and defame the Republican conference and staffers who she claimed “have even questioned whether the Holocaust took place” and “openly follow white supremacy.” She followed up by saying “It’s a free country. You absolutely have a right to say what you believe,” she said. “But, you don’t have the right to a platform, public or private. We don’t have to give one of the largest platforms of our democracy, congress this hearing.” Of course, she glossed over the fact that Americans’ do have the right not to have their government pressure private companies to censor their viewpoints. [Emphasis added].
Pariseau made no effort to disprove Plaskett's claim that Kennedy's anti-Semitism and continued lies about vaccines have effectively forfeited his right to unfettered free speech. Instead, she whined that Kennedy's vaccine lies deserve free speech too:
Plasket [sic] additionally showed that she is out of touch with the concerns of many Americans. She noted questions that she has been asked like: “Why are you having this hearing? What does this have to do with inflation? What does this have to do with the cost of living? What does this have to do with the lives of everyday Americans?” There’s a simple answer. A right to free speech and a right to access relevant information about vaccines and elections deeply affects the everyday lives of Americans.
Catherine Salgado then did stenography for the Republican committee head insisting that Kennedy was telling the truth when he tweeted that baseball great Hank Aaron died of the COVID vaccine:
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) called out the anti-free speech efforts of the FBI and President Joe Biden’s administration during a Thursday Congressional hearing.
The House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government held a hearing July 20 at which two targets of government censorship efforts, Democrat presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and journalist Emma-Jo Morris, testified. The White House pounced on Kennedy just “pointing out facts,” the representative insisted. Jordan described the Biden administration efforts to silence Kennedy and FBI censorship priming that triggered censorship of Morris, who in 2020 broke the Hunter Biden laptop scandal for the New York Post.
A mere 37 hours into the Biden administration’s term in office, Jan. 23, 2021, Jordan explained, the White House emailed Twitter: “‘Wanted to flag the below tweet, and I am wondering if we can get moving on the process for having it removed ASAP.’” The tweet referred to was from Robert F. Kennedy Jr., which said, “‘Hank Aaron’s tragic death is part of a wave of suspicious deaths among elderly closely following administration of the vaccine. He received the vaccine on Jan. 5 to inspire other black Americans to get the vaccine.’”
Jordan emphasized the tweet did not contain any false claims, despite the White House email subject line of “Flagging Hank Aaron Misinformation.” Jordan said, “Misinformation is when you don’t have the facts right, you’re saying things that are not true.” Jordan said Kennedy was just “pointing out facts, and yet the White House ... 37 hours into the administration, they were trying to censor Mr. Kennedy. I find that interesting. The irony here of trying to censor the guy who’s [now] actually their Democrat primary opponent.”
In fact, Kennedy was lying when he falsely blamed Aaron's death on a COVID vaccine -- a medical examiner found that Aaron died of natural causes. Salgado failed to mention that inconvenient fact.
The MRC continued to work to portray him as a victim of "censorship" (even though all social media is doing is responding to his false anti-vaxxer conspiracy theories). Craig Bannister rehashed Kennedy's purported victimhood in a July 20 post republished from the right-wing blog that CNSNews.com has been reduced to:
YouTube deplatformed him five minutes into his announcement that he was a Democrat presidential candidate, Robert Kennedy, Jr. said Thursday, while defending himself from attacks by fellow Democrats during a House hearing.
A hearing, which was supposed to be about the weaponization of government through censorship, quickly detoured into vicious efforts to smear Kennedy and prevent him from testifying against censorship of viewpoints opposed by the Biden Administration.
“Big Tech and the media are desperately trying to censor @RobertKennedyJr to protect Biden. Stop interfering in our elections!” Media Research Center (MRC) President Brent Bozell tweeted, reacting to Kennedy’s testimony.
Bannister uncritically quoted Kennedy claiming that "I've never been anti-vaccine" while failing to mention all the facts that prove the exact opposite.
Tom Olohan squeezed yet another Kennedy-promoting item from that hearing for a July 21 post:
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Ronald F. Kennedy Jr. (RFK Jr.) went after Big Tech platforms for censoring free speech on natural immunity during the pandemic.
On Thursday, July 20th, RFK Jr. was given a chance to speak to Congress and the American people. This provided Rep. Massie, another opponent of censorship, an opportunity to speak to RFK Jr. about how Big Tech had censored him and others who posted about natural immunity, even when the censored information was both scientifically accurate and promoted by a legacy media source. Massie said, “One of the immutable and undeniable uh tenants of immunology is natural immunity. But for two years it was denied. It wasn't even just denied. It was censored.”
Massie also noted to Louisiana Special Assistant Attorney General D. John Sauer, “I noticed in the court ruling in the case that you worked on that they said that the court said that Facebook reported to the White House that it labeled and demoted posts, suggesting natural immunity to a COVID-19 infection is superior to vaccine immunity,” before discussing how Twitter had specifically censored him on the issue.
In fact, there is little evidence that "natural immunity" -- catching a disease that might kill you in the hope of becoming immune from it -- is superior to vaccination, and there was little information early on in the COVID pandemic about whether "natural immunity" was a valid path given that, again, COVID was quite deadly early on.
This is a lot of time and energy for the MRC to spend on a candidate it supports only because he fits its victimhood narrative and he might be a spoiler to President Biden's re-election -- not be it would ever support him should he somehow win the Democratic nomination.
Luis Cornelio used a July 24 post to dishonestly frame correcting false information as "election interference" while praising Fox News for sticking to the right-wing narrative about what was "eclipsed" in the hearing:
Democrats are already scavenging for ways to use Big Tech to interfere with the 2024 presidential election, one lawmaker warned.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) had some strong words against Big Tech’s censorship of free speech during a Friday interview on Fox News’s America’s Newsroom. Buck raised the alarm that Democrats are pushing to censor Robert F. Kennedy Jr. because of the challenge he poses to the Biden regime amid the 2024 nomination process. “Obviously, they are censoring him because he is a threat to Joe Biden,” Buck said of Kennedy’s appearance during a hearing before the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on Thursday.
Buck didn’t mince his words in reaction to Democrat members of Congress and their reactions to the hearing. “There is a little irony that they’re having a hearing on censorship and trying to censor a witness,” Buck said. “Obviously, they are censoring the witness because he is a threat to Joe Biden. He’s polling somewhere in the 15 to 20% range. That scares Democrats that someone is going to pull votes away from Joe Biden and challenge him.”
Fox News Co-Host Dana Perino brought up the eclipsed but intended subject of the hearing Big Tech censorship. “The fighting and argumentation between the Democrats and RJF Jr. yesterday sort of overshadowed the big picture about the hearing, which is this question about Big Tech and censorship,” Perino told Buck, before asking, “Do you think there are changes afoot when it comes to how the government is going to react and interact with these companies?”
Cornelio didn't ask why a Republican congressman and a right-wing "news" channel are so concerned about allowing a Democrat to be able to day whatever he wants.
A July 25 post by Gabriela Pariseau touted an "Twitter files" installment starring Kennedy: "The latest Twitter Files installments implicated a new culprit in the assault against Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s free speech and provided evidence that government requests to censor were more like orders." Cornelio played the victimhood card for Kennedy again in a July 31 post:
YouTube’s election interference couldn’t be any more clear, as it continues to censor President Joe Biden’s primary challenger.
YouTube decided to yet again remove a video interview of Democrat presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, citing an alleged violation of its “Community Guidelines.”
The 48-minute interview, conducted by O’Keefe Media Group CEO James O’Keefe, delved into topics contentious to the approved narrative of the Biden regime, including COVID-19, the First Amendment and the collusion between Big Tech and the federal government to assault free speech.
O’Keefe, often a subject of Big Tech censorship himself, took to Twitter to condemn the news.
“YouTube removed this video for ‘medical misinformation,’” O’Keefe said on July 28, before sharing the full video on Twitter. “Thankfully, you can still watch it here on the public square.” In a separate tweet addressed to YouTube CEO Neal Mohan, O’Keefe asked, “Tell me where in the video it hurt you @nealmohan.” O’Keefe additionally shared the interview, titled “Lawsuits, Anthony Fauci, Fear, FBI, Becoming Commander-in-Chief and more!” on Rumble, a video-hosting platform that opposes draconian censorship.
Cornelio leaned hard into the whole victimhood thing:
RFK Jr. also called out the un-American nature of the censorship assault. “Americans know, you know, innately that we're not supposed to that the government is not supposed to censor us,” the Democratic candidate for president added. “[Y]et we put up with it we said, ‘Okay those guys are scaring us and we need to shut them up. The Constitution doesn't have a pandemic exception. The First Amendment doesn't have a pandemic exception.”
YouTube’s latest assault against Robert F. Kennedy comes a week and a half after RFK Jr. testified before the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government to detail the harrowing experience of facing constant censorship led by the federal government.
According to MRC Free Speech America’s exclusive CensorTrack database, YouTube has targeted RKF Jr. nine times since he first announced his bid for the Democratic nomination for president in 2024.
Cornelio failed to detail the statements Kennedy made that were deemed "medical misinformation," nor did he inform his readers that Kennedy has made numerous false and misleading claims about COVID and its vaccines. Cornelio also failed to explain why his employer is so aggressively defending a Democratic presidential candidate or why he has an entry in its biased CensorTrack database, which is all about manufacturing dubious data to portray right-wingers as victims of "censorship."
'Twitter files' victimhood
A July 25 post by Gabriela Pariseau touted a "Twitter files" installment starring Kennedy, building on those attempts to bestow victimhood on him:
The latest Twitter Files installments implicated a new culprit in the assault against Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s free speech and provided evidence that government requests to censor were more like orders.
The most recent Twitter Files by Andrew Lowenthal, author of the Network Affects Substack, referred to a House hearing last Thursday at which Democrat [sic] presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. provided testimony. Lowenthal noted that The Twitter Files corroborated Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan(R-OH)’s accusations of Government-Big Tech collusion to censor Kennedy, adding that not only did the White House ask Twitter to muzzle Kennedy but Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz (HI) apparently did the same.
During the hearing before the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, Jordan pointed out that the Biden administration emailed Twitter sternly asking the platform to silence Kennedy’s views on COVID-19 vaccines two days after the president took office. “Wanted to flag the below tweet and am wondering if we can get moving on the process for having it removed ASAP,” an email from White House Digital Director for the COVID-19 Response Team Clarke Humphrey to Twitter reads according to screenshots Lowenthal included.
What did Kennedy say that was so objectionable? He noted his opinion of how professional baseball player Hank Aaron died. “Hank Aaron’s tragic death is part of a wave of suspicious deaths among elderly closely following the vaccine. He received the vaccine on January 5 to inspire other black Americans to get the vaccine,” Kennedy wrote, according to Jordan’s readout at the hearing.
Pariseau refused to tell her readers that Kennedy is an anti-vaxx conspiracy theorist with no credibility, or that he was lying about the COVID vaccine killing Aaron (who, in fact, died of natural causes). Pariseau also failed to explain why a medical misinformation during a pandemic shouldn't be countered or corrected.
Salgado went Godwin on one of the groups who call out Kennedy's misinformation in an Aug. 7 post touting how right-wing Rep. Jim Jordan is targeting the Center for Countering Digital Hate for alleged "potential censorship collusion with the federal government": "Jordan specifically zeroed in on CCDH’s COVID-19-era report on 'The Disinformation Dozen,' which led to censorship of users like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that CCDH labeled as prominent 'anti-vaxxers.' Media Research Center founder L. Brent Bozell previously called CCDH 'digital brownshirts.'" Salgado identified no false claim about Kennedy made in the CCDH report.
An Aug. 18 post by Autumn Johnson similarly smeared the CCDH as "digital brownshirts," again complaining that the group's list of COVID misinformers included "notably Democratic Party Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has a history of questioning the efficacy of vaccines." She too failed to mention that Kennedy also has a history of spreading falsehoods and misinformation.
Tom Olohan gushed over Kennedy spouting right-wing narratives on a right-wing channel in an Aug. 29 post, while added a talking point he didn't repeat:
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. laid into three massive corporations for pushing a key element of the American Dream out of reach for many American families.
During an August 27 interview with Newsmax host Eric Bolling, presidential candidate RFK Jr. went after the ESG-friendly giants for making it more difficult and expensive for Americans and families to own a home. “These three giant companies, BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard, they own 88% of the S&P 500, there’s something wrong with that,” he said. “And they’ve now targeted single-family homes, so the reason you’re seeing these homes go off the charts in price.”
After naming the predatory behemoths, RFK Jr. broke down how it happens. “So many people that you know and I know have had the experience that they're about to put an offer in on the home or they put one in, somebody who swoops in with a cash offer and takes it away from them and they try to figure out who it is and it's an LLC,” the Democrat [sic] presidential candidate added. “Well those LLCs are ultimately owned by those three big companies, and you know they're on trajectory now to own 60% of the single family homes in this country by 2030.”
While these three corporations have certainly made it more difficult for young families to own homes, they are also infamous for pushing environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing on Americans and American companies. RFK Jr. is only the latest politician to sound the alarm, following testimony from public officials before Congress.
Jeffrey Lord spent his Sept. 16 column trying to manufacture a conspiracy theory that the Biden administration is ordering media outlets to cover Kennedy negatively:
The issue here is not “is RFK Jr. beating Biden.” No, the issue here is, as long as it is issuing commands to media on how to cover the anti-Biden GOP impeachment inquiry - is the Biden White House quietly issuing a command to the same Biden-protecting media? Sending the message that they need to rev up negative coverage of Biden rival and critic RFK Jr.?
In fact, Kennedy recently said this to Fox’s Martha McCallum:
It is surreal. My polling numbers are better than Ron DeSantis and/or any other candidate except for Biden and Trump. But I’m you know, even when they talk about me on the DNC channels, on CNN and MSNBC, they always refer to me, my first name as a longshot candidate, whereas everybody else has a candidacy that is taken seriously.
In other words? Already the liberal media is instinctively expanding its Biden-protecting coverage from the typical anti-GOP coverage and extending it to include Biden’s only opponent (so far) with any standing. Democrat Marianne Williamson, unlike RFK in single digits, doesn’t yet appear to count here.
The obvious question is: if the Biden White House is issuing marching orders to the media in terms of its coverage of the GOP impeachment inquiry - are they similarly issuing marching orders to the same media on how to cover RFK Jr? Or even simply whispering those RFK marching orders quietly, without the formal letter?
It wouldn’t surprise. But it is curious indeed that RFK Jr.’s coverage in places like the lefty Washington Post and New York Times treats RFK as some sort of right-wing prank and Covid crank and that coverage from what Kennedy calls “the DNC channels, on CNN and MSNBC” isn’t much better.
Lord doesn't ask why Kennedy is running to the right-wing Fox News -- which would explain the "right-wing prank" part -- or explain why he is so upset that media outlets are reporting the truth that Kennedy is, in fact, a "Covid crank."
Say hello to Dean Phillips
The MRC may have all but abandoned Kennedy, but it has found a new Democratic candidate it can ironically support in the hope of hurting President Biden's re-election hopes. Nicholas Fondacaro kicked off the ironic defense in an Oct. 27 post:
On Friday, Minnesota Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips threw his hat into the presidential race to challenge President Biden in the Democratic Party primary. And despite their broadcast competitors finding some time for it on their morning and evening newscasts, ABC’s Good Morning America and World News Tonight refused to give Phillips’ campaign any oxygen. Likely hoping it would suffocate before the caucuses and primaries kicked off next year.
World News Tonight didn’t want to give their viewers an opportunity to think about voting for Phillips over Biden, but they did find time to hype how you could vote to name a baby emperor penguin at Sea World! They spent 1 minute and 31 seconds on that story. They also allocated 15 seconds for rivers on Mars and 17 seconds for Taylor Swift becoming a billionaire.
Over on CBS Mornings, they spent 3 minutes and 39 seconds on Phillips’ challenge to Biden but Democratic donor and co-host Gayle King scoffed at him and even insinuated he had no campaign staff. “[H]e showed us that he's got at least two friends. I'm sure he has more than that. Does he have a campaign staff? Does he have a following?” she jabbed.\
By the time CBS Evening News rolled around, they were tired of Phillips and chose to dedicate 24 seconds to local weather reports.
Fondacaro unsurprisingly gave a cookie to Fox News for adhering to the narrative:
Fox News Channel’s Special Report gave Phillip’s campaign launch a solid 2 minutes and noted that he had a habit of pushing for younger blood in Democratic Party leadership positions. “The 54-year-old Phillips called on former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to step aside last year. This presidential quixotic quest mirrors that,” reported senior congressional correspondent Chad Pergram.
Pergram also highlighted the internal struggle Democrats were having over who they wanted to be their nominee. “An early October Fox News poll of registered voters found 53 percent wanting someone other than President Biden as the nominee,” he noted. “Phillips runs because he believes another Biden candidacy could inadvertently elect former President Trump.”
After noting the “shadow campaign” of California Democrat Gavin Newsom, Pergram concluded: “The entry by Phillips into the presidential sweepstakes reflects Democratic fractures. The Democrat's left-wing coalition is splinting over support for Israel.”
Fondacaro didn't explain why Fox News' coverage of Phillips was worth his praise since it, like he, like Fox News, only cares about Phillips as a potential spoiler and does not actually want him to be president.
Fondacaro brought his ironic support for Phillips to his daily hate-watch of "The View" in an Oct. 30 post:
Since last Friday, ABC News has avoided mentioning President Biden’s new primary challenger Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN) on their flagship newscasts (Good Morning America and World News Tonight). They relegated all mentions of Phillips’ campaign to side programming like America This Morning (at 5 a.m.), This Week (their Sunday show), and The View, which spent part of their Monday episode railing against Phillips for having “a lot” of “arrogance” for thinking he could challenge Joe Biden, “the GOAT” of presidents.
After playing a sound bit of Phillips’ interview with CBS News, racist and anti-Semitic co-host Sunny Hostin shouted: “Who is that?!” She then proceeded to ridiculously suggest that Phillips shouldn’t have jumped into the race without first turning out the entire Democratic Party base ahead of time and how dare he run against the savior of the country:
Fake conservative Ana Navarro, who once bragged about introducing her “wealth clients” to allegedly corrupt Democratic Senator Bob Menendez (NJ), discounted Phillips as just a “wealthy guy in his 50s having a midlife crisis and I guess instead of buying a convertible corvette or a building a yacht, he decided to run for president.”
“I think it takes a lot of...arrogance to in November practically, we're in November tomorrow think that you can all of a sudden do this,” she squealed. “Look, the primary in New Hampshire is less than three months away. The caucuses in Iowa are less than three months away. You don't just drop, like, manna from heaven and think, here I am right now, your savior warrior.” She failed to mention Biden was not on the New Hampshire ballot.
It’s ironic Navarro would mention that buying a convertible Corvette was a sign of a midlife crisis when that’s exactly what Biden did, but then again she was a Biden sycophant. “Mother Teresa could resuscitate and I would still support Joe Biden...Frankly, I'm going to support Joe Biden until Joe Biden tells me he's not running. Until then, I’m not entertaining this,” she proclaimed last month.
Fondacaro didn't dispute any of the points the hosts made about Phillips. And, again, it's worth noting that he thinks Hostin is a "racist" because he doesn't understand how metaphors work, and the only example he provided of her being "anti-Semitic" a criticism of Israel, which does not equate to anti-Semitism.