Last Thursday I took exception with Maureen Dowd’s implied declaration that, unlike Fox News, The New York Times is an “honest” publication. It didn’t take long to shatter that illusion—which occurs, not only in the Times, on a daily basis on the internet. I can’t tell what’s “honest” today in the media, and if readers can direct me to a website that doesn’t post seat-of-the-pants stories that’re unsourced, and as my friend Crispin Sartwell points out are larded with “experts say” let me know.
Reporter Trip Gabriel, in an article about Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential announcement in Boston, wrote an entirely misleading first paragraph: “More than half a century after his father sought the White House to end a calamitous war in Vietnam and to salve the country’s racial wounds, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced a presidential campaign on Wednesday built on re-litigating Covid-19 shutdowns and shaking Americans’ faith in science.” Given short shrift in Gabriel’s dispatch were Kennedy’s main points: criticism of President Biden’s expenditure of billions to aid Ukraine, money he says could be put to far better use helping the impoverished and middle class in the United States, an immediate—as opposed to puppet Mayor Pete’s “dedication” to infrastructure—commitment to the repair of broken-down bridges, trains, tunnels and buildings, and a scathing denunciation of the pharmaceutical industry. He said, in a two-hour speech that Gabriel described as “rambling,” that the aim of his campaign is to “end the corrupt merger of state and corporate power.”
(The picture above, snapped by Michael Gentile, is Kennedy on 7th Ave. after sitting for a two-hour interview with me at the New York Press offices many years ago. He was engaging and very smart then, though more of a traditional Democrat, but did squirm after I let him go on about climate change and then asked him rat-a-tat-tat questions about his past and views on the politicians of the day. Look below for clues as to what year this took place.)
I’m no flunky for Bobby, Jr. and his rambunctious claims during the pandemic, slamming Anthony Fauci (justifiable) and Donald Trump’s lockdowns during the initial phase, were, charitably, consistent with his years-long campaign against vaccines in general; taking a more jaundiced view, many people thought, not without reason, that his zeal bordered on the kooky. My wife and I got vaccinated because it made sense from what we knew, as older people were dying by the thousands before the vaccines became available. We wore masks when it was mandated in Maryland, and heeded the warnings, mostly, about close contact with others. I thought that the quickly-approved vaccines might turn out to be a Thalidomide-type product in five or 10 years, but Covid was the most frightening plague of my lifetime (I was five when I took the sugar cube polio vaccine) and as a generally healthy man who nonetheless in in his 60s, I wasn’t taking chances.
Yet Covid—despite what almost every MSM outlet reports—isn’t now the main thrust of Kennedy’s probably quixotic challenge to Biden: without irony, considering his father’s and uncle’s ties to the Deep State, he’s attacking the institutions that hold power in America today. He wasn’t gauche enough, or politically stupid, to state unequivocally that American corporations and Zelensky are lining their pockets with the billions sent to Ukraine, but that was the message, and it’s not a fringe view. Ask most U.S. citizens about the billions wired abroad and, if they’re aware of the fact, they’ll say it’s money down a rathole. That’s why major publications, like the Times, are attempting to jettison Kennedy’s bid, for it’s in their interest that Biden, ridiculously infirm, gets reelected and maintains the status quo. As for pharmaceutical companies—as well as lawyers, banks and D.C.’s political class—taking outrageous advantage of all Americans, that’s a popular campaign talking point as well. I’d suppose that like all presidential candidates there’s ego involved—Kennedy Jr. was on track for a long political career until his drug problems surfaced—and at 69, he knows there’s not a lot of time left to restore his reputation. And his spasmodic dysphoria, diagnosed in 2008, which has severely altered his voice, makes some people uncomfortable listening to him. However, unlike Biden, he’s intellectually sound. Considering his lineage, his ailment might draw sympathy.
Here's Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh, who calls Kennedy “a genuine anti-vax wackadoodle: “[I]t is true that Kennedy, in his strange, rambling, convoluted, conspiracist, nearly two-hour announcement, did seem to downplay his anti-vaxxism. Even as he hinted at vast conspiracies to keep America at war for the betterment of military-industrial-complex profits and spoke of government agencies captured by industry and manipulated to promote their economic agenda, even as he denounced the COVID-19 shutdown as part of a war on the poor, he usually referred to vaccines somewhat antiseptically as ‘pharmaceuticals.’”
It wasn’t Lehigh’s intent but that sounds like an endorsement to me.
The reliably wishy-washy Ross Douthat, in his Sunday New York Times snoozer, wrote that Biden, despite polls showing most don’t want him to run, says there are no viable alternatives. He doesn’t mention Kennedy Jr. until his ninth paragraph, and then dismisses him as a conspiracist who might capture 10 percent in a primary against Biden. He concludes: “Ideally a column like this would end by identifying just that person, in a prophetic flourish. But since I don’t have a candidate ready at hand, maybe Biden can breathe easy—with all the impediments of age overcome , once again, by the absence of any credible alternative.” Translated: the allegedly “conservative” Douthat’s in the tank for Biden.
Clues for what year the above picture was taken: 19 European nations agree to ban cloning; Japan launches a probe to Mars; the Second Congo War begins; Google is founded; Matthew Shepard is murdered in Laramie, Wyoming; The Smashing Pumpkins release Adore; James Cameron and Titanic conquer the Oscars; Adley Rutschman is born and Shari Lewis dies; CatDog debuts on Nickelodeon; and Mark O’Meara wins the Masters Tournament.
—Follow Russ Smith on Twitter: @MUGGER2023