Avoiding Kennedy Assassination Conspiracies
Last week the New York Times ran a lengthy front-page hit-piece against Robert F. Kennedy Jr., scion of America’s most famous political family and an underdog challenger to President Joseph Biden in the Democratic Primaries.
Kennedy’s unexpectedly strong campaign had recently stumbled when the novice candidate made some incautious remarks at a private dinner regarding the ethnic skew of Covid vulnerability, and a video clip of his explosive words touched off a media feeding-frenzy. The Times and the rest of the mainstream media are intensely hostile to Kennedy’s effort and the editors may have hoped that this piling-on attack might permanently cripple his fledgling campaign.
Anguish in Camelot: Kennedy Campaign Roils Storied Political Family
Peter Baker • The New York Times • August 6, 2021 • 2,600 Words
Probably few readers, whether Kennedy supporters or opponents, found anything unexpected in the article authored by Chief White House Correspondent Peter Baker. Near the beginning, we were told that Kennedy “has become a source of deep anguish among his many siblings, cousins, nieces, and nephews.” The candidate was described as a former drug-addict, expelled from his private schools, who had been married three times and whose second wife had committed suicide. Meanwhile, almost any mention of the great accomplishments in his long and successful career as an environmental attorney were left on the cutting-room floor.
The main focus of the piece was Kennedy’s frayed relations with his extended family, die-hard Democrats all, who were bewildered and saddened by the strange and self-destructive political behavior of their errant relative. The text was heavily laced with harshly negative quotes regarding his beliefs—“deplorable and untruthful” according to his sister Kerry Kennedy, “morally and factually wrong” by his brother Joseph P. Kennedy II, while his nephew Joseph P. Kennedy III Tweeted “I unequivocally condemn what he said.” The article opened with a denunciation by the only grandson of President John F. Kennedy, who declared that his “conspiracy-minded” cousin was “tarnishing the legacy of his grandfather and their storied family” with his “vanity project.” I counted a total of 13 different Kennedys cited in the piece, almost all of them providing these sorts of unflattering remarks.
The entire tone of the article was unrelentingly negative and clearly intended to present the dissenting Democratic candidate as someone who held bizarre beliefs or was even unhinged, definitely not an individual to be entrusted with our nation’s future. I’d assume that the Democratic Party’s lavishly-funded corps of opposition researchers have carefully parsed every spoken or written word of Kennedy for the last couple of decades and then gifted the choicest morsels they uncovered to their numerous media allies including the Times.
Thus, we can safely assume that every misstep or bit of dirt about Kennedy would have been discovered by now, allowing us to draw some important inferences from any silence. So as I carefully read the Times article, I focused not so much on what it contained but rather what it strangely omitted.
Over the years, Kennedy has publicly and repeatedly declared that both his father and his uncle had died at the hands of a conspiracy, pointing to the CIA as the most likely culprit. Probably at least a couple of million Americans have read his words or listened to his interviews, clearly establishing him as the most explicit sort of “conspiracy theorist,” a highly pejorative term that the media always eagerly seeks to inflict upon disfavored political candidates.
Yet across the full 2,600 words of the article, most of it heavily focused upon Kennedy family matters, mention of that topic was limited to just a single glancing sentence. Why would the Times have almost entirely avoided such a tempting target, one that seemingly supported its portrayal of Kennedy as holding bizarre and irrational beliefs? I think that the best explanation is that the editors knew perfectly well that Kennedy’s facts were rock-solid on that issue, and that challenging him would merely bring his information to much wider attention, perhaps leading many additional millions of Americans to conclude that their own media had been lying to them for six decades just as Kennedy himself had Tweeted out last year:
— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) December 17, 2022
Only a week before sending that Tweet, Kennedy had published a long piece in the San Francisco Chronicle presenting the incontrovertible facts of his own father’s killing, and if these came to widespread attention, decades of media lies might begin to unravel.
Sirhan Sirhan didn’t kill my father. Gov. Newsom should set him free
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. • The San Francisco Chronicle • December 8, 2021 • 1,000 Words
Consider, for example, prominent liberal pundit Bill Maher, someone who would certainly never classify himself as a “conspiracy theorist.” When he interviewed Kennedy a few weeks ago and heard the factual evidence regarding the assassination of the candidate’s father in 1968, he immediately declared himself completely convinced that Kennedy was correct about the existence of a conspiracy.
Moreover, the particular focus of the Times article would have put the newspaper on especially risky ground. With thirteen different members of the Kennedy family mentioned or quoted in the text, any substantial discussion of the 1960s assassinations might reveal that many or most of Kennedy’s relatives fully agreed with the candidate about the existence of a conspiracy, thereby blowing a huge hole in the media’s decades-long blockade of the truth. If the American people discovered that the entire Kennedy family was filled with “Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists,” tens of millions of minds might be changed.
Consider another piece published a couple of months earlier by Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, which had appeared as part of a large barrage of media attacks and insults against the conspiratorial beliefs of Kennedy and his supporters. Although she treated his views on the assassinations as an element of his irrationality, she couldn’t help mentioning that Salon founder David Talbot, her old boss and a highly-regarded national journalist, entirely agreed with Kennedy about those historical facts.
Indeed, I regard Talbot’s 2005 national bestseller Brothers as probably the most important Kennedy assassination book of the last twenty years because it revealed that so many individuals near the top of the American government, including most of the Kennedy family itself, had almost immediately concluded that our 35th President died in a conspiracy. A leading mainstream historian lavishly praised Talbot’s research in the Times itself and suggested that the existence of a conspiracy was obvious. But the editors running the Times news pages have continued to avert their eyes from these facts, perhaps leading their younger colleagues such as Goldberg to remain blissfully unaware.
Totally Ignoring Kennedy’s AIDS Denialism
When hostile journalists seek to destroy a candidate, they naturally direct their coverage where they believe he is most vulnerable and do their best to ignore his greatest strengths. A shrewd campaign might use such biased reporting as a road-map, one that provides the photographic negative of the issues that should be emphasized. So if the Times and other media outlets seek to avoid the Kennedy assassination conspiracies, perhaps those are exactly the right issues to discuss.
But there is another incendiary topic on which the silence surrounding Kennedy’s position has been far more absolute across both the mainstream and the alternative media, so much so that probably only the tiniest sliver of Americans are even aware of Kennedy’s views. Based upon his extremely controversial writings, the candidate would seem so tremendously vulnerable that any such media coverage would immediately destroy his campaign and his reputation. Yet not a single hostile publication has ever reported those facts, suggesting that the true situation is actually quite different from what it appears to be. Perhaps this total silence implies that the Times and other media outlets dread that subject, fearing that it could destroy their entire media establishment if the facts came out and Kennedy were proven correct.
Until late 2021 I’d been only slightly aware of Kennedy, having vaguely heard that he’d become a leading figure in the growing anti-vaxxing movement. My own views on vaccines had always been quite conventional, not too different from those advocated by the Times, but I was persuaded to read his new book in order to get his side of the story.
To my utter amazement I discovered that the main subject of his text was something entirely different than what I had been led to believe. Kennedy had devoted nearly half the length—200 pages—to promoting the theory that AIDS did not exist as a real disease and was instead merely a medical media hoax concocted by Dr. Anthony Fauci and his greedy corporate allies. But not a single one of those describing his book, whether supportive or critical, had ever hinted at this. Indeed, when I mentioned the true subject of Kennedy’s text to a couple of people, they almost seemed to think that I was delusional, considering it impossible that no one would have revealed such a startling fact.
Kennedy’s book quickly became the #1 Amazon bestseller and he soon drew extremely harsh media attacks, including a 4,000 word article produced by a large team of Associated Press journalists. But as I noted, although they denounced him on every other point none of them ever mentioned his explosive AIDS claims.
A great deal of effort had obviously been invested in this attack, and the byline of the named author was shared by five additional AP writers and researchers, underscoring the journalistic resources devoted to demolishing the reputation of an individual who has obviously made such powerful enemies. But in reading the article, the phrase that came to my mind was “the Sounds of Silence” or perhaps the famous Sherlockian clue of “the Dog That Didn’t Bark.”
Almost half of the entire book under attack—around 200 pages—is devoted to presenting and promoting the astonishing claim that everything we have been told about HIV/AIDS for more than 35 years probably amounts to a hoax.
By any reasonable standard, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has now established himself as America’s #1 “HIV/AIDS Denier,” and prior to the Covid outbreak, AIDS had probably spent almost four decades as the world’s highest-profile disease, reportedly absorbing some two trillion dollars in research and treatment costs. So for someone to essentially claim that the disease doesn’t actually exist would seem the height of utter lunacy, on a par with Flat Earthism. Yet not a single word of this astonishing situation appears in the long AP article, that attacks Kennedy on almost all other possible grounds, fair or unfair. Did all six of the AP writers and researchers somehow skip over those 200 pages in Kennedy’s bestseller?
That large team of AP journalists seems to have spent at least ten days working on their lengthy article, mining Kennedy’s record for almost everything controversial they could possibly find, even highlighting a photograph that merely shows him standing next to Trump allies Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.
How a Kennedy Built an Anti-Vaccine Juggernaut Amid COVID-19
Michelle R. Smith et. al. • The Associated Press • December 15, 2021 • 4,000 Words
I noticed this same total silence about AIDS was maintained in a similar attack the following month by the managing editor of Counterpunch.
Vaccines, RFK Jr. and The Science of Misinformation
Joshua Frank • Counterpunch • January 14, 2022 • 1,900 Words
With Kennedy’s book passing the million mark in sales and his influence still growing, this pattern of omission continued and became even stranger. In late February, the New York Times launched a blistering front-page attack against him, tarring the author and his book as a font of total irrationality and dangerous misinformation, but the 2,600 words never hinted at his central focus on AIDS.