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View Diary: RFK Jr Slams ABC: Headline was Purposefully Provocative and Inaccurate (239 comments)

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    Here is the transcript of Kennedy's statement which included the phrase "indentured servants".

    KENNEDY: The coal industry and the carbon industry in general are the largest contributors to the political process. So, you know, you have politicians who have essentially become indentured servants to these, and adopt the talking points of these industries.

    Two questions later - both follow-ups on the same subject, RFK, Jr. again uses the plural to describe a generic group of political leaders who appear to be in the pay of "Big Coal".

    ROSS: Have you seen the commercials they're running now with President Obama, "Yes, we can" talking about clean coal? What's your reaction to that?

    KENNEDY: Well, again, I think it's sad when political leaders feel that they are so indebted to these industries that they, and so fearful of them, essentially, that they have to endorse conditions that clearly are wrong.

    ROSS: And you say that about President Obama?

    KENNEDY: Yeah. Anybody who looks at this understands that the term "clean coal" is a dirty lie. That coal is neither cheap nor clean. It's devastating to our country, it's bad for our economy, it's devastating towards our communities, and we have wonderful alternatives in this country if we'd only invest in them.

    The juxtaposition is quite strong.

    Did RFK, Jr. say, "Obama is an indentured servant to Big Coal?"
    No.  But he came about as close as one can to doing so.

    Later in the interview, RFK, Jr. said that Obama was being hoodwinked.

    KENNEDY: ... we don't have to be hookwinked by the coal industry anymore. And the politicians who are continuing to carry the industry water and to parrot the industry talking points ultimately should be ashamed of themselves.

    ROSS: Including President Obama?

    KENNEDY: Everybody.

    Sorry, RFK, Jr. has been around the political track enough times to know that one does not answer all questions of insistent reporters - especially those seeking to get you to implicate the president.


    Let's do a little bit of set theory.

    From the first quote:
    Politicians are indentured servants to the coal industry.

    From the first question of the second quote:
    Political leaders are so indebted to these industries.

    From the second question of the second quote:
    President Obama is one of these political leaders.

    So the question becomes whether or not "political leaders" are a subset of "politicians" rather than vice versa.  If political leaders are a subset of politicians and if there are no political leaders outside the larger set of politicians, then President Obama is a politician.

    A second point comes from the definitions of "indentured" and "indebted".  Notice that RFK, Jr. used the qualifier "so" with "indebted".  Clearly, to be indentured is to be more than simply indebted.  However, in colonial America and in moder usage - especially in the Middle East - "indenture" carries with it a connotation of significant indebtedness.  Thus, the question becomes, what is the meaning of the word "so" in the context that RFK, Jr. used it?

    And speaking of modifiers, RFK, Jr. chose not to use one in the first quote.  He could have said, "Many politicians are indentured servants ..." or "Politicians can become indentured servants if they are not careful ..." but he chose, instead, to use a blanket statement.

    Unfortunately, RFK. Jr. chose to color this interview with emotion-laden language like the "dirty lies" of the coal industry, "biostitutes" - which is not even very clever since it is almost unpronounceable, and how it is unsafe to fish with your children - the latter, again, with no qualifiers.  Certainly, there are some places that have been impacted by mercury, but people fish safely throughout the United States.

    Sadly, a complete reading of the interview shows that RFK, Jr. was on a major rant.  Now, rants are perfectly fine - you just have to be careful who you are making them to.  Ross simply gave him additional rope.  When one makes blanket statements - those statements are apt to engulf the person making them.

    Interview Transcript -

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