Yep, It’s Time To Cancel RFK Jr.

I hope the mainstream media is proud of all the attention it gave RFK Jr.

The media moved the shark halfway across the ocean for Robert Kennedy Jr.’s benefit, but he might finally have jumped it:

Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. dished out wild COVID-19 conspiracy theories this week during a press event at an Upper East Side restaurant, claiming the bug was a genetically engineered bioweapon that may have been “ethnically targeted” to spare Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people. …

“COVID-19. There is an argument that it is ethnically targeted. COVID-19 attacks certain races disproportionately,” Kennedy said. “COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”

“We don’t know whether it was deliberately targeted or not but there are papers out there that show the racial or ethnic differential and impact,” Kennedy hedged.

Kennedy said this, of course, in a city that suffered America’s most devastating COVID outbreak in early 2020 — a city with more than a million Jews, many of them of Ashkenazi descent. The city also has well over half a million residents of Chinese descent. The notion that these ethnic groups were somehow spared COVID is ludicrous. (There have been nearly five million COVID cases in Israel — a country with a population of just under 10 million — and the WHO has recorded nearly 100 million COVID cases in China, which is likely to be an undercount.)

This seems like a good time to look Jon Allsop’s essay about RFK Jr. in the Columbia Journalism Review. Allsop agonizes over the question of how to cover Kennedy:

Confoundingly for the press, the answers to the questions Isn’t it dangerous to indulge Kennedy’s efforts to mainstream himself? and Isn’t it dangerous to dismiss his views as irrelevant? might both be “yes.” And both potential paths, it seems to me, constitute a different form of complicity, making the question of which one we should take very complicated indeed.

I don’t believe it’s as complicated as Allsop does, as I’ll explain.

As I see it, there are a few cases for paying attention to Kennedy’s candidacy, in addition to the imperative of calling out his noxious views. One is simply that he is running for president…

So are Doug Burgum and Larry Elder and quite a few other nonentities, some of whom are as far behind their party’s front-runner as Kennedy is behind his. Being a candidate doesn’t automatically qualify you for the lengthy, elaborate profiles the mainstream media has published on Kennedy.

He is, in many ways, a ready-made media character. More than just that, he has been presented as an avatar of conspiratorial trends—and attendant anxieties about them—that have become central to American intellectual life, making him, also, a representative of the zeitgeist. (The fact that he is a scion of perhaps the most zeitgeisty political family of all time hasn’t hurt this impression.)

When was the last time the Kennedys were “zeitgeisty”? Two decades ago at least, right? The last important Kennedy, Senator Ted, left office shortly before his death in 2009. Only out-of-touch boomers still think the Kennedys are relevant to the zeitgeist.

This is my problem with the mainstream media’s RFK Jr. coverage: Journalists cover him as a boldface name because his forebears were boldface names a long time ago. Allsop cites Brandy Zadrozny’s long story about Kennedy for NBC News as a “sharp” piece that “interrogated Kennedy’s policies and the sort of damage he’d be liable to do as president”; there’s some truth to that, as I said when the piece was published — but much of the story also read like a celebrity profile, with Zadrozny watching raptly as Kennedy practices obedience training on his dogs during a hike.

As Kennedy speaks, his dogs remain at attention. For a long time. No treats are given.

“It’s something called an intermittent reward system,” Kennedy, noticing my discomfort, explains of the lapse. “I learned it from falconry. If you don’t give the animal a treat every time, it actually makes them more obedient.”

This is how you write a profile of a Hollywood celebrity: You are here with a famous person as he walks his dogs! Swoon! That was Zadrodzny. The New Yorker‘s David Remnick asked some sharp questions about Kennedy’s crackpot theories, but also allowed Kennedy to offer his famous life story as a reason attention should be paid to all his theories.

This is my problem with the mainstream media’s Kennedy coverage: Only a few MSM journalists can fully resist the temptation to cover Kennedy as a sexy, charismatic star from a sexy, charismatic family, rather than as what he is, a softer-voiced Alex Jones, someone who uses his bloodline and his faculty-lounge affect to extract money from people who might find Jones a bit much.

Kennedy should be covered like just another dangerous conspiracist, and therefore as a menace to society, with his pedigree as a fact about him that’s peculiar, not fascinating.

Republished from No More Mister Nice Blog.

Yep, It’s Time To Cancel RFK Jr.

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