'Defamations': Dems pile on RFK Jr. as racist, antisemite after censorship hearing disinvite fails
Democratic challenger to President Biden says he was citing Cleveland Clinic study in recent controversy over "ethnically targeted" virus. "You can't make this stuff up," GOP member says of Democratic tactics.
Congressional Democrats have attempted to bury Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in an avalanche of racism and pseudoscience allegations concerning his statements about COVID-19 — after unsuccessfully trying to get him disinvited before – and during – Thursday's hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of Federal Government.
Their Republican colleagues expressed glee at the optics of Democrats seemingly trying to censor a repeat victim of government-tinged censorship — a "Disinformation Dozen" member challenging President Biden for the 2024 Democratic nomination — at a hearing on that very issue.
"You can't make this stuff up," Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) said, and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) marveled at what he called the "irony and cognitive dissonance" of the subcommittee minority.
Democrats tried a similar discrediting tactic at a COVID origins hearing this year against former New York Times science reporter Nicholas Wade, who helped verify the legitimacy of the lab-leak theory, for his 2014 book on the "genetic basis of race."
The GOP-led weaponization subcommittee on Thursday also released parts of its July 17 transcribed interview with Laura Dehmlow, section chief of the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force, to argue the bureau hid its knowledge of the authenticity of Hunter Biden's recovered laptop when asked directly by Facebook the day of the quickly throttled New York Post scoop, Oct. 14, 2020.
"Virtually every mainstream news outlet" has since confirmed her reporting "when the stakes were nothing," Breitbart News reporter Emma-Jo Morris, who spearheaded the Post series, testified Thursday. She spoke alongside Kennedy, Louisiana Special Assistant Attorney General John Sauer and Maya Wiley, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, the top Republican on the chamber's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, filed legislation Thursday prohibiting executive branch employees and contractors from "directing online platforms to censor" constitutionally protected speech and penalizing those who violate provisions.
The parties sharply disagreed about the import of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issuing a "temporary administrative stay" of a trial judge's injunction against federal pressure on social media to censor in the Missouri-Louisiana lawsuit against the Biden administration.
Sauer called it "routine practice" in that circuit ahead of expedited appeals, while Wiley twice claimed the appeals court "vacated" the injunction, prompting Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) to accuse her of spreading disinformation. She acknowledged having misspoke.
When Wiley told Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) she was unaware of the government determining what facts and views the public can see, he responded with amazement "where have you lived for the last three years?"
Kennedy's reported comments about Chinese "ethnic bioweapons" and the "racial or ethnic differential" of COVID favoring Chinese and some Jews prompted Democrats to invoke a House rule, to no avail, that moves public hearings into closed executive session when a member asserts that testimony "may tend to defame, degrade, or incriminate any person."
Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) denounced his "anti-Asian vaccine theories," which Wiley agreed fueled hatred and violence.
"We are simply trying to create factually correct information" to stop harm through social media moderation, Sanchez said.
Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, the top Democrat on the committee and who represents the Virgin Islands, accused the GOP of giving Kennedy a "huge megaphone" and trying to scare social media platforms into not removing falsehoods ahead of the 2024 election.
She cited his Children's Health Defense documentary Medical Racism, which she claimed falsely portrays black children as having stronger immune systems.
Plaskett said also said Kennedy says his children, now grown, received all their recommended vaccinations but wants to deny black people the same medicine, treating them as "superhuman yet subhuman,"
Plaskett associated Kennedy with Holocaust denialism and the "great replacement theory" espoused by Buffalo mass shooter Payton Gendron.
Democrats' lone witness, Wiley, invoked Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers, who could receive the death penalty in sentencing this week, and his use of the Gab social media platform to illustrate the danger of the feds not cooperating with social media.
Kennedy, a member of the Kennedy political family and vaccine-safety activist, drew a round of applause after ditching his prepared remarks to respond to Plaskett's kitchen sink of "defamations."
Kennedy said he never told blacks not to get vaccinated but simply sought vaccine testing that meets the rigor of other medications, as when he asked White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci for pre-licensing safety trial data on childhood vaccinations.
Fauci didn't provide the promised data, he said, forcing Children's Health Defense to sue the Department of Health and Human Services and discover it had none.
"Nobody knows the risk profiles for these products," Kennedy said. He also said he was "dragged kicking and screaming" into vaccine safety advocacy from his work to get mercury out of the environment, which didn't prompt anyone to call him "anti-fish."
Kennedy's exchange with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who introduced the motion for executive session, was even more heated than with Plaskett.
She said his "reckless rhetoric" fuels record antisemitism and called his "ethnically targeted" COVID claim a form of blood libel against Jews.
"I was describing an [National Institutes of Health]-funded study" by Cleveland Clinic researchers, he responded as Wasserman Schultz tried to cut him off to make more accusations. "You are slandering me."
She retorted Kennedy was "trying to rewrite history."
Massie later tracked down the July 2020 paper.
Kennedy said he doubts any of the 102 House Democrats who signed Monday's disinvitation letter really think he's antisemitic, pointing to his objection to Biden's "payout" to Israel's greatest foe, Iran.
America is facing the most dangerous period since the Civil War because of polarization worsened by censorship, such as YouTube quickly cutting off his campaign kickoff despite no discussion of COVID or any other "verboten subject," he said.
The First Amendment was written for "the speech that nobody likes you for," including the "true but inconvenient to the government" narratives deemed "malinformation," Kennedy said, noting the Trump and Biden administrations sought to silence him.
"We need to start being kind to each other," he said, invoking his uncle Sen. Ted Kennedy's cross-party friendship with fellow Sen. Orrin Hatch, who was "like Darth Vader" to the boy, and Jordan's longtime friendship with Kennedy's campaign manager, former Democratic congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook
- and during â Thursday's hearing
- a "Disinformation Dozen" member
- COVID origins hearing this year
- portions of the GOP's July 17 transcribed interview
- the bureau hid its knowledge of the authenticity
- Emma-Jo Morris
- John Sauer
- Maya Wiley
- Kennedy's reported comments
- House rule
- Medical Racism
- espoused by Buffalo mass shooter Payton Gendron
- prepared remarks
- July 2020 paper
- Monday's disinvitation letter