CV NEWS FEED // Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. described how President Joe Biden and other fellow Democrats have repeatedly tried to censor him and his campaign.
The testimony took place Thursday morning as part of a hearing conducted by the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. Kennedy is challenging Biden in next year’s Democratic Primary and was invited to speak by the committee’s Republican majority.
A Catholic, Kennedy is a well-known environmental attorney and lifelong liberal Democrat who announced his candidacy for the 2024 Democratic Presidential nomination in April. He is the son of Senator and 1968 Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy and the nephew of President John F. Kennedy.
Kennedy has been a critic of the federal government’s COVID-19 response and is the author of the book The Real Anthony Fauci.
Upon opening the hearing, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-OH, referred to an email the Biden White House sent to Twitter on January 23, 2021 – just three days after the president assumed office. The email stated the administration’s goal to “flag” one of Kennedy’s tweets and “start the process” of having it removed from the platform.
Jordan read the tweet to the committee, which Kennedy had sent the day before the White House’s letter. In it, the attorney raised the theory that the death of baseball Hall-of-Famer Hank Aaron, who had passed away in his sleep earlier that day, could have been connected to the COVID-19 vaccine he had received.
As of the day of the hearing, two-and-a-half years after Kennedy posted the tweet, it is still live on Twitter and has received just shy of 10,000 “likes.”
“What’s interesting about the email that the White House sent to Twitter is that the subject line says ‘Tagging Hank Aaron Misinformation,’” said Jordan:
Misinformation is when you don’t have the facts right. You’re saying things that aren’t true. But when you look at Mr. Kennedy’s tweet, there was nothing in there that was factually inaccurate. Hank Aaron, real person, great American, passed away after he got the vaccine. Just pointing out facts, and the White House…37 hours into the administration, they were trying to censor Mr. Kennedy.
Jordan pointed out the irony in Biden’s staff trying to censor the man who would eventually become their Democratic Primary opponent.
“It’s frankly why Mr. Kennedy is running for president… it’s to help us expose and stop what’s going on,” which Jordan said is “big government pressuring private entities to censor Americans.”
Before Kennedy came up to testify, Committee member Rep. Chip Roy, R-TX, introduced the presidential candidate by stating his many accomplishments in the field of environmental law and children’s health advocacy. “I assume that being a father of seven and in addition to being one of eleven children himself fuels his interest in children’s health,” said Roy.
Roy also pointed out the fact that former President Barack Obama strongly considered nominating Kennedy to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2008.
As Kennedy was about to take the podium, Jordan got into a brief argument with the committee’s ranking member, Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-VI, over his speaking time. This prompted Jordan to remark, “If you want to cut him off and censor him some more, then you’re welcome to do it.”
In his opening statement, Kennedy directly addressed Plaskett’s claim that the Weaponization Committee was not concerning itself “with issues that impact directly the American people,” such as the economy, foreign policy, and immigration. “We can’t do that without the first amendment, without debate,” he said.
Kennedy said that when he gave his campaign announcement speech two months prior:
I talked about all those issues. I focused on the fact that working-class people can no longer afford to live in this country. I talked about inflation, all the issues that deeply concern you, and that you’ve devoted your career to alleviating those issues.
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 was just talking about my campaign and conversations that we ought to be having with each other as Americans. I was shut down, and that is why the First Amendment is important.
“Debate,” Kennedy said, “congenial, respectful debate is the fertilizer, it’s the water, it’s the sunlight for our democracy.”
Ahead of the hearing, 102 members of Congress, all from Kennedy’s party, signed a letter asking that he not be allowed to testify. Kennedy called the letter “evidence of a problem that this hearing was convened to address. This is an attempt to censor a censorship hearing.”
“Censorship is antithetical to [the Democratic] Party,” Kennedy added. “It was appalling to my father, my uncle, to FDR, to Harry Truman, to Thomas Jefferson.”
He noted that he was not only censored by the Biden administration and Democrats but also by the Republican Trump administration.
Later in his testimony, Kennedy accused Instagram, which is owned by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta, of de-platforming him because he posted information “inconvenient to the government.” Kennedy claimed “there was no misinformation” on his account. “Everything I posted on that account was cited and sourced.”
His ban from the popular photo-sharing platform was reversed last month, and his account is active as of July 20, 2023.
Kennedy also claimed that he was the subject of what he called “a new form of censorship.”
After I announced my presidency, it became more difficult for people to censor me outright. So now, I’m subject to this new form of censorship which is called targeted propaganda, where people apply pejoratives like “anti-vax.”
“I’ve never been anti-vaccine,” he asserted. “[But] everybody in this room probably believes that I have been because that’s the prevailing narrative.”
The new practice, Kennedy testified, is to apply “the most appalling, disgusting pejoratives” to people simply to silence them.
“In my entire life, I have never uttered a phrase that was either racist or antisemitic,” he said. He went on to reference his staunchly pro-Israel record.
Kennedy compared his harsh critics to McCarthyists during the 1950s. “Those same weapons are now being deployed against me to silence me.”
Holding up the above-mentioned letter, Kennedy challenged the authors. “I don’t believe there’s a single person who signed this letter who believes I’m antisemitic.”
Kennedy stressed the need to end the “toxic polarization that is destroying our country today.”
“Do you think you can do that by censoring people?” he asked. “I’m telling you that you cannot.”
Read more: AG Merrick Garland’s March Senate Hearing