The 2024 race for the White House is already upon the American electorate as candidates in both parties present themselves to the public. In that presentation to the public, such candidates seek platforms like social media sites and corporate news agencies for them to make their pitch for why the public ought to vote for them. Free and fair elections require the best flow of information and informed political discussions so that the audience receives the candidate’s case in full without censorship.
This was not the case for Trump in 2020 as sites actively and willfully censored bad information for the Biden campaign. This was not the case for Robert Francis Kennedy Jr., a Democratic challenger to President Joe Biden for the Democratic party primary, during his interview with ABC News. As pointed out by Chief Nerd, the sobriquet of a self-described “Part-Time Citizen Journalist”, on Twitter: “ABC News Censors Robert F. Kennedy Jr During His Primetime Interview, Citing ‘False Claims’ About Vaccines “During our conversation, Kennedy made false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines…We’ve used our editorial judgment and not included extended portions of that exchange in our interview.”
NEW – ABC News Censors Robert F. Kennedy Jr During His Primetime Interview, Citing 'False Claims' About Vaccines
"During our conversation Kennedy made false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines…We've used our editorial judgement and not included extended portions of that… pic.twitter.com/6cxCZV8QBk
— Chief Nerd (@TheChiefNerd) April 28, 2023
The video starts with the interviewer challenging RFK Jr. on his previous statement that “there is a correlation between vaccines leading to autism- that has totally been debunked.” RFK Jr. asked who debunked it. The interviewer clarified it was the CDC and other organizations. RFK Jr. responded by claiming that “those are all captive agencies.” In effect, RFK Jr. is claiming that just like how tobacco companies used to use doctors to endorse their brands as healthy despite evidence to the contrary, so too have health agencies been manipulated by the corporate pharmaceutical industry.
The video, however, awkwardly seems to cut off the Democratic candidate’s full answer on the matter and returned to the interview noting how many Kennedy family members are not endorsing RFK Jr’s run and how some described him as “dangerous”. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. replied, “And how do you expect me to respond to that- other than saying they were wrong about the issue that they consider me dangerous about.” The host conceded, “That is a fair response.”
The host then pushed on what RFK Jr. considers to be a scientific authority. RFK Jr responded that “science is rarely static. There are very few scientific principles that are immovable. Science is dynamic…I have litigated over 500 lawsuits. In every one of those lawsuits, there are experts on authority on one side and experts on authority on the other [and] they are saying the exact opposite thing. No, I don’t trust authority. I need to see the details. I need to see the science.”
The interviewer inquired what his final pitch to the voter was. RFK Jr. pontificated the need for pro-middle-class policies that will revitalize the economic and moral standing of the country that sustains democracy. At the end of the interview, the host made the following admission: “During our conversation Kennedy made false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines. Data shows that the COVID-19 vaccines prevented millions of hospitalizations and deaths from the disease.”
She continued saying “He also made misleading claims about the relationship between vaccination and autism, research shows that vaccines and the ingredients used in the vaccines do not cause autism including multiple studies involving more than a million children and major medical associations…we have used our editorial judgment in not including extended portions of that exchange in our interview.”
What the host said may be true but the problem is that she did not permit the audience to hear Kennedy’s full case or Kennedy cross-examining her cited data. The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge has the motto “Nullius in verba”, which means take no one’s word for it. The premise of science is that one need not take an authority’s word for it but that what is asserted can be repeatedly and reliably demonstrated through sound and tested methods. Should not we take this adage to heart when judging matters concerning authority?