Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s diatribe last week claiming COVID anti-vaxxers have it worse than Anne Frank have brought him condemnation from many immediate family members, including his wife--actress Cheryl Hines.
The Boston Globe reported today that Kennedy’s already strained relationships with friends and family were worsened by the latest bizarre rant. Here’s an excerpt from its reporting:
“In a tweet, Hines called her husband’s remark at an antivaccine rally last Sunday in Washington “reprehensible.” Kennedy’s sister Kerry Kennedy likewise denounced his “hateful rhetoric,” describing it as “sickening and destructive.” And his niece Kerry Meltzer, a physician in New York, called his statements “abhorrent.”
“Kennedy has since offered a qualified apology — “To the extent my remarks caused hurt, I am truly and deeply sorry,” he tweeted. But the controversy is merely the latest to embroil the 68-year-old son of Senator Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy. His increasingly extreme views on vaccinations and embrace of conspiracy theories have caused a deepening rift in one of America’s most prominent political families.
“In addition to Kennedy’s incendiary rhetoric about vaccines, many were stunned last month when, over the objections of his 93-year-old mother, Ethel Kennedy, he argued that Sirhan Sirhan, the man convicted of assassinating his father in 1968, should be released from prison because, Kennedy claims, he didn’t do it.
“But in the midst of a pandemic that has killed more than 875,000 people in the United States, it’s Kennedy’s strident antivaccination crusade that his family and others find most alarming.”
Kennedy’s history of anti-vax disinformation was called out sharply by the Globe report.
Long before his wildly overwrought rhetoric about the dangers of the COVID jab, Kennedy was asserting, contrary to all credible scientific evidence, that the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) causes autism and other neurological disorders, and claiming that public health officials “knowingly allowed the pharmaceutical industry to poison an entire generation of American children.”
It was an outrageous assertion debunked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others, but it nonetheless found a large audience. One person paying attention was former president Donald Trump, who, soon after taking office in 2017, appointed Kennedy to chair a “vaccine safety commission,” a move that disturbed public health officials. It’s not clear if the commission ever met.”
And there was this:
“While Kennedy has enormous followings on Facebook and Twitter, his Instagram account was removed last year for “repeatedly sharing debunked claims” about COVID vaccines, and researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate have identified Kennedy as one of its “Disinformation Dozen” — the 12 people responsible for the bulk of the false or misleading claims about COVID vaccines on social media.
Still, Kennedy isn’t backing down. Indeed, despite CDC findings that unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die of COVID than those who get the shot, Kennedy continues to warn against the jab, calling it, wrongly, the “deadliest vaccine ever made.”
“He’s gone off the rails and no one can seem to control him,” said a longtime Kennedy friend who asked not to be identified. “It’s nonsense and it’s frightening.”