Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has one of the most famously Democratic names in the country. He’s running for president, he says, as a Democrat. He’s getting major media coverage as a Democratic challenger serious enough to be a “headache for Biden.” But it’s clear if you took out the famous name bespeaking the iconic lineage—one really without competition unless you want to count 83-year-old Franklin Delano Roosevelt III—Kennedy would not be taken seriously either as a Democrat or a candidate. And his own actions, and the people and groups he chooses to associate with, are the major things discrediting him as a Democrat.
Kennedy shows his allegiances every time he makes a media appearance. Because they’re basically all on right-wing media. Just this week, YouTube removed a video of Kennedy spreading vaccine disinformation on Jordan Peterson’s podcast and Kennedy appeared on Newsmax, the far-far-right competitor to Fox News. Last week, his big media hit was on Joe Rogan’s podcast. This is not the media schedule of a Democratic presidential candidate. It’s the media schedule of a MAGA influencer.
He’s not just appearing on the likes of Peterson and Rogan and Newsmax, either. He’s providing prime content for their tradition of wild claims and conspiracy theories. Kennedy told Peterson that chemicals in the water supply are turning boys trans. On Newsmax, he claimed, “We know that the Chinese are developing ethnic bio-weapons. Bio-weapons that are designed to attack people of certain racial types. And we’re doing the same thing. We’ve been collecting Chinese DNA. We’ve been collecting Russian DNA specifically for that. [This] arms race is a catastrophe.” He told Rogan that he was “aware” the CIA might want to assassinate him, and “I take precautions.”
Following Kennedy’s interview with Rogan, vaccine expert Dr. Peter Hotez tweeted, “Spotify Has Stopped Even Sort of Trying to Stem Joe Rogan’s Vaccine Misinformation. It’s really true @annamerlan just awful. And from all the online attacks I’m receiving after this absurd podcast, it’s clear many actually believe this nonsense.” Rogan then challenged Hotez to debate Kennedy on vaccines, and after Hotez refused (because why would he “debate” facts with a disinformation artist?), anti-vaxxers showed up at his house.
That’s not all. Next week Kennedy is speaking at the Moms for Liberty summit in Philadelphia. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “Moms for Liberty has not only developed but leveraged its close political alliances and ties to extremist groups to broaden its reach and spread its messages of anti-inclusion and hate,” deploying anti-LGBTQ+ “groomer” rhetoric and calling for books teaching kids basic civil rights movement history to be removed from schools. Its opposition to COVID-19 precautions is presumably its major tie to Kennedy, but he’s associating himself with the whole package by speaking to the group.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a right-wing conspiracy theorist posing as a Democratic presidential candidate, and his name is the only reason he can get away with it. That’s enough for some low-information Democrats looking for an alternative to President Joe Biden. It shouldn’t be enough for media organizations like The New York Times, which ran an article framing Kennedy as a potentially serious challenger to Biden that waited until the 13th paragraph to acknowledge, “A CNN poll late last month that showed Mr. Kennedy with 20 percent support against Mr. Biden found that the main reason voters liked him was because of the Kennedy name.” Kennedy is soaking up poll support from people who literally just heard his name and responded positively, and it will evaporate when they learn more about him. Dignifying his so-called campaign with “serious Democratic primary candidate” treatment as Kennedy tailors his appeal to Newsmax viewers and Moms for Liberty members is a dishonest move by a media eager for “trouble for Joe Biden” narratives.
Meanwhile, Kennedy is suing Daily Kos to reveal the identity of a community member who criticized him. Contribute now to help us fight back.