Two pieces, out today, signal a revised position on that candidate—and, inadvertently, affirm his honesty, and the intelligence and common sense of many in this country
As “Joe Biden” keeps on falling down, along with his poll numbers, “our free press” is, apparently, revising its position on the Kennedy campaign. Since April 19, when he announced that he was running, until this week, the US press unanimously jeered it as a crackpot “long shot bid” to oust good old “Joe Biden” from the Oval Office. That smugness seems now to be giving way to an uneasy recognition—and admission—that Kennedy’s campaign may not be such a “long shot” after all.
I base this assessment on two fretful pieces that came out this morning, in The Hill and on Yahoo! News (in both of which I’ve bolded the most telling bits):
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RFK Jr.’s rising profile sparks Democratic jitters
by Hanna Trudo
June 7, 2023
Democrats are growing concerned that Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s profile is rising just as President Biden embarks on a challenging campaign to keep the White House out of Republican control.
Kennedy, an anti-vaccine proponent who launched a primary bid against Biden this spring, is doing unexpectedly well in some polls and receiving increasing media attention as a result. He has also been on a press tour this week that included a Twitter Spaces discussion with Elon Musk and digital town hall with journalist Michael Smerconish.
Democrats widely consider Kennedy to be a problematic fringe candidate who freely spreads conspiracy theories. But his relatively decent poll numbers, as well as his media-ready image as an heir to the famous political dynasty, have caused some to worry he could gain steam and potentially distract from the task of reelecting Biden in 2024….
Note the tension in that final paragraph: “Democrats widely consider Kennedy to be a problematic fringe candidate who freely spreads conspiracy theories”—and yet he’s doing quite well in the polls. Thus that passage asks, implicitly, “How come?”—or, to put it more succinctly, “WTF??”
That question is posed more forthrightly in this piece from Yahoo! News, by Mike Bebernes (Senior Editor):
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: What’s behind the anti-vaccine activist’s surprising polling strength?
June 7, 2023
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a leading anti-vaccine conspiracist and descendent of the Kennedy political dynasty, has garnered a surprising amount of support in polls since announcing his bid to unseat President Biden in the Democratic presidential primary….
Having laid out that conundrum, Yahoo’s scribe provides a rundown of Bobby’s craziest ideas:
Kennedy was among the most popular proponents of the debunked theory that vaccines cause autism, which helped fuel the rise to the modern anti-vaccine movement. He was also identified by researchers as one of the “disinformation dozen” a small group of people responsible for spreading the majority of false claims about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. Beyond vaccines, Kennedy has claimed that 5G networking technology will be used to “control our behavior,” blamed the U.S. and Ukraine for provoking Russia’s invasion, accused George W. Bush of stealing the 2004 presidential election, called for p[eople who deny climate change to be jailed, suggested antidepressants may be causing school shootings, and strongly insinuated that both his father and uncle were murdered by U.S. intelligence agencies.
So what gives? Why is such a flagrant nut-job polling so impressively? Bebernes offers these “perspectives” from throughout the tiny universe of “our free press”:
The Washington Post assures us (or itself) that Bobby’s standing in the polls may be due “entirely” to his famous name:
His support may be entirely the result of his famous last name
“There’s plenty of reason to believe his early poll standing is significantly inflated by his famous name. … There is probably no name in American politics that is more golden, particularly among left-leaning Americans.” — Aaron Blake, Washington Post
New York assures itself that Bobby is so popular despite his crackpot views—which, once people know them better, will sink his campaign like a stone:
Most voters aren’t aware of Kennedy’s most extreme beliefs
“Unfortunately for RFK Jr., it seems voters really don’t know who he is, and his support will dwindle once they figure it out.” — Ed Kilgore, New York
The Star-Ledger (in New Jersey) seems to say (it isn’t clear) that Bobby’s only polling well among his own “fringe followers”:
He is skilled at leveraging the support of his fringe followers without allowing them to define him
“The Q-anon crowd likes RFK Jr. but he’s smart enough not to openly endorse that particular lunacy. But like Trump, he lets the lunatics line up behind him. Also like Trump, he has a talent for promoting populist views.” — Paul Mulshine, Star-Ledger(N.J.)
The Wall Street Journal holds that some Democrats back Bobby now because he isn’t “Biden” (much as “Biden” won their votes because he isn’t Trump):
Democratic voters are searching for anyone other than Biden to be their nominee
“Regardless of the preferences of the Democratic establishment, many Democratic voters are still not accepting the idea that they’re stuck with Joe Biden.” — James Freeman, Wall Street Journal
Reason argues that Republicans are backing Bobby to thwart “Biden”:
He’s getting a boost from conservatives looking to hobble Biden
“Perhaps Republicans are now boosting Kennedy—an eco-warrior who wants to jail his opponents and shut down companies that disagree with him—not out of a sincere desire to see him prevail but to weaken Joe Biden. Or maybe jailing opponents and shutting down dissident companies are now tenets of American conservatism.” — Joe Lancaster, Reason
Three thinkers on “The Conversation” (a semi-highbrow version of “The View”) agree that Bobby is successfully exploiting the electorate’s (regrettable) distrust of major U.S. institutions:
Kennedy is seizing on widespread distrust of authority that has seeped into the U.S. electorate
“The spread of disinformation about COVID vaccines has occurred in a society characterised by low institutional trust. Figures such as Kennedy … capitalise on this, appealing to those disillusioned with the government’s official narrative. They present themselves as having access to privileged knowledge and understanding.” — Stephanie Alice Baker, Chris Rojek and Eugene McLaughlin, “The Conversation”
The Daily Beast sees Bobby’s rise as symptomatic of the paranoid “conspiracism” that’s “infected every wing of U.S. politics”:
Kennedy’s relative popularity shows how the conspiracist mindset has infected every wing of U.S. politics
“I don’t think RFK Jr., is about to defeat—or will likely even do serious damage—to Joe Biden in 2024. My concern is about the post-Biden future. The sort of conspiratorial populism that Kennedy embraces is on the rise in America. That’s where the energy is. To some degree, we are now seeing that even in Democratic polls. Trump has already taken over the GOP. What happens if the Democratic Party also falls to the siren call of the populist zeitgeist?” — Matt Lewis, The Daily Beast
VICE blames Bobby’s numbers on the media, whose employees have proved unable “to call out his lies”:
The media is making him look like a serious candidate by failing to call out his lies
“Major news networks are badly underprepared to interview Kennedy. … Kennedy is a sophisticated political figure, skilled at debate, highly media-trained, and clearly poised to use his presidential run to raise his profile and situate himself as a serious statesman, rather than the health crank he has shown himself to be for so many years. News networks that can’t figure out how to interview someone like Kennedy—which is a matter of asking him about his actions and expressed beliefs and properly contextualizing them, the same as for any other subject—run the risk of doing his advertising for him instead.” — Anna Merlan, Vice
Alone among the outlets quoted here, the New York Post ascribes the candidate’s success to his eloquence, “conviction and charisma,” and opposition to his party’s manifold insanity:
Outside of his zanier beliefs, Kennedy is a talented communicator with an appealing message
“It’ll be a serious challenge, if the Democratic establishment and its media allies can’t quash him. Kennedy has real conviction and charisma, and he’s fiercely independent of many of the party’s reigning pieties — all of which should appeal.” — Editorial, New York Post
Now, what that quick poll makes very clear is that America’s “free press”—with all too few exceptions—now functions exactly like a cult, whose members are so deeply hypnotized by their own propaganda (which is to say, the propaganda that they’re given to regurgitate day after day) that (a) what Bobby says may actually be true, or at least worth considering, and (b) that’s why he’s been polling well, despite the media’s unanimous non-stop campaign to demonize him. (The New York Post stands out in perceiving that reality.) Their half-cocked “explanations” of his “unexpected” popularity, while they all contradict each other, also betray a certain (crackpot) desperation not to see the truth of what they’ve all been paid to cast, ferociously, as “lies,” and, therefore, not to see that those Americans who’ve heard him, and approve of what he’s said, are showing great good sense.
Now, let’s conclude by noting more specifically that what “our free press” takes to be the truth, and works relentlessly to force on all the rest of us, is nothing but a tissue of Big Lies. First—and for the thousandth time—Bobby Kennedy is not an “anti-vaxxer,” but a dedicated advocate of vaccine safety. As he and CHD have long made clear—and as millions of Americans (including me) know all too well—the vaccines pumped out by the pharmaceutical cartel are full of toxic additives, which have demonstrably caused illnesses of many kinds (and also killed innumerable children). To slam that point as “anti-vax” is as absurd as it would be to slam the critics of thalidomide, or opioids, or Vioxx, as “anti-druggers.” (Nor is it any less absurd to tag the ever-growing opposition to those COVID “vaccines” as “anti-vaxxer” agitation, since those dangerous injectibles are not vaccines at all.) “Anti-vaxxer,” let’s remember, is a propaganda term concocted by Big Pharma—on whose largesse “our free press” heavily depends; and that is why they so relentlessly attach it to the name of Bobby Kennedy, even though he’s not opposed to vaccination per se (for which real anti-vaxxers have denounced him).
Now, let’s run quickly through that Oceanic paragraph contrived by Mike Bebernes to establish the insanity of Bobby Kennedy:
Kennedy was among the most popular proponents of the debunked theory that vaccines cause autism, which helped fuel the rise to the modern anti-vaccine movement.
As Bobby pointed out to Krystal Ball, when she parroted that same Big Pharma talking point, there are well over 400 studies that affirm the link between vaccines and autism.
He was also identified by researchers as one of the “disinformation dozen” a small group of people responsible for spreading the majority of false claims about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.
Feel free to tweet Mike Bebernes, asking him what those “false claims” might be: https://twitter.com/mikebebernes.
Beyond vaccines, Kennedy has claimed that 5G networking technology will be used to “control our behavior,”
That 5G is a key component of “smart cities” and the “internet of things,” enabling a surveillance system far more sweeping and sophisticated than anything that Hitler and/or Stalin could conceive, is not a controversial notion, since even Foreign Policy has dealt with it: https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/04/17/smart-cities-surveillance-privacy-digital-threats-internet-of-things-5g/
blamed the U.S. and Ukraine for provoking Russia’s invasion,
The US and Ukraine began “provoking” that invasion in 2014, when, following the (US-backed) coup in Kiev, Ukraine’s forces—including neo-Nazi “punisher battalions”—began to bomb and shell the Russian-speaking people in the East. Such aggression ultimately killed some 14,000 people. That, the threat of NATO’s further eastward moves, and other factors finally prompted that invasion (which “our free press” at once decried as unprovoked).
accused George W. Bush of stealing the 2004 presidential election,
As the author of Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform (Basic Books, 2005)—the book that opened Bobby’s eyes to the danger of election theft (he then went on to write two first-rate pieces on that problem in 2006, for Rolling Stone)—I can assure Mike Bebernes, or any of this peers, that the evidence of theft in that contest (like the one in 2000) is overwhelming, as is the evidence of theft in 2020, even though they laugh that off as well.
called for people who deny climate change to be jailed,
This one is, unlike the others, mostly true: In 2014, Bobby did call for the prosecution of climate change “deniers”—meaning corporations selling and/or burning fossil fuels in willful disregard of global warming. While many Democrats would surely cheer, and “our free press” approvingly report, that view if it were Greta Thunberg voicing it, that Bobby said it makes it just as wrong and crazy as his every other notion. In any case, since COVID Bobby has revised his stand on climate change, which he now recognizes as another pretext for Klaus Schwab et al. to lock us down, and make us all de facto slaves.
suggested antidepressants may be causing school shootings,
Why is this insane? Those drugs do often send their users into fits of rage. I’ll bet Mike Bebernes doesn’t know that O.J. was on Prozac when he murdered Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. Just as with climate change, so with all those school shootings—and other such high-profile murder sprees—there is, as there should be, much disagreement, and so there should be debate, which should include the possible impact of SSRIs.
and strongly insinuated that both his father and uncle were murdered by U.S. intelligence agencies.
Can you imagine? Who ever would think such a thing—aside from nearly everyone who’s ever studied either of those murders, and a clear majority of the American people? That Mike Bebernes and his peers would treat that notion as insane makes crystal-clear not just that they’re bone-ignorant of post-war US history, but—far more important—that their job is really not to keep us (We the People) properly informed: on the contrary. It is their job to keep us safely in the dark, right where their owners and their advertisers, and the government (primarily the CIA) all want us.
In sum, what those two pieces tell us is that “our free press” is now so heavily invested in its lies about the world that they can’t even see the truth, however obvious it may be to the rest of us, much less report it. And, inadvertently, they also tell us that this candidate is willing to discuss some painful truths, and that more and more Americans approve it.
Two days ago, the New York Times did its own thing in furious response to Bobby’s “surprisingly high polling numbers.” (I took the liberty of annotating it a little.)
Robert Kennedy Jr., With Musk, Pushes Right-Wing Ideas and Misinformation
June 5, 2023
Mr. Kennedy, a long-shot Democratic presidential candidate with surprisingly high polling numbers [and why would that be?], said he wanted to close the Mexican border [which should stay open?] and attributed the rise of mass shootings to pharmaceutical drugs [and that’s completely wrong because….?].
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has consistently hovered [like a vulture] around 20 percent in polling of the Democratic presidential primary.
June 5, 2023
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a scion of one of the country’s most famous Democratic families, on Monday dived into the full embrace [and that’s not easy!] of a host of conservative figures who eagerly promoted his long-shot primary challenge to President Biden.
For more than two hours, Mr. Kennedy participated in an online audio chat on Twitter with the platform’s increasingly rightward-leaning chief executive, Elon Musk. They engaged in a friendly back-and-forth with the likes of Tulsi Gabbard, the former Democratic congresswoman turned right-wing commentator; a top donor to Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida; and a professional surfer who became a prominent voice casting doubt on coronavirus vaccines.
Mr. Kennedy, who announced his 2024 presidential campaign in April, is himself a leading vaccine skeptic, and has promoted other conspiracy theories. Yet he has consistently hovered around 20 percent in polling of the Democratic primary, which the party has otherwise ceded to Mr. Biden.
On Monday, he sounded like a candidate far more at ease in the mushrooming Republican presidential campaign.
He said he planned to travel to the Mexican border this week to “try to formulate policies that will seal the border permanently,” called for the federal government to consider the war in Ukraine from the perspective of Russians and said pharmaceutical drugs were responsible for the rise of mass shootings in America.