Psaki accuses Fox of flirting with Robert F Kennedy Jr: ‘Pretty embarrassing look’

Former White House press secretary swipes at rival network for obsession with Democratic candidate

John Bowden
Washington DC
Tuesday 25 July 2023 02:34 BST
Robert F Kennedy Jr claims he has never been anti-vaccine

MSNBC host and former White House press secretary Jen Psaki took aim at rival news network Fox over the weekend as the network once again turned to Robert F Kennedy Jr, conspiracist and vaccine sceptic, for commentary.

During a segment of her Sunday show Inside with Jen Psaki, the former top aide to Joe Biden squarely hypothesised that the GOP and Fox in particular were hoping to elevate Mr Kennedy’s national profile in the desperate hope of harming Mr Biden’s re-election chances, given that Mr Kennedy is running as a Democrat against the incumbent Democratic president.

Her remarks came after Mr Kennedy has become somewhat of a darling of alternative media outlets eager to cash in on the “what the mainstream media won’t tell you” narrative that has become a centrepoint of his campaign.

She theorised: “[M]aybe it’s really not about RFK Jr. at all, but instead about Joe Biden. Like the saying goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. That may make more strategic sense, but it would be incredibly cynical if Republicans were elevating a conspiracy theorist who spews false and inaccurate lies, some that could even be damaging to the public and public health, just to create trouble for their political opponent.

“I mean, that would be a leap even for the right to embrace a candidate enamored with conspiracies just as a means to advance their own political objectives. They’ve never sunk that low before,” Ms Psaki then quipped with some sarcasm. She later declared: “[N]o matter how bizarre and dangerous his conspiracies may be, it doesn’t matter. One explanation is ignorance, the other is cynicism. Both are a pretty embarrassing look for the right-wing machine trying to prop up this man’s campaign.”

The longshot presidential contender most recently came under fire for comments he made suggesting that some viruses including Covid-19 could be targeted by nefarious sources to affect some populations or ethnicities more than others — comments that led to accusations of antisemitism, thanks to his assertion that the virus may have been “ethnically targeted” to affect Blacks and Caucasians more than people of Ashkenazi Jewish and Chinese descent.

Like most conspiracy-pushers, Mr Kennedy has insisted that he was not spreading misinformation because he did not specifically state that the assertion was true, merely instead floating it as a possibility. Critics argue that doing so allows Mr Kennedy to signal to conspiracy theorists and their followers while keeping some distance between himself and the claims themselves.

And Mr Kennedy has attacked any type of authority figure that can parse his medical conspiracies and provide accurate scientific data for Americans to make their own choices. The Democratic candidate has publicly promised to defund agencies that authorise medical treatments to hit hospitals and pharmacies around the country, while also vowing to use the power of the federal government in an unprecedented manner to exert his whims on the nation’s medical journals.

Fox News in particular is no stranger to elevating conspiracy theories. The network agreed to a historic $787.5m settlement with Dominion Voting Systems earlier this year after documents made public in the company’s bruising defamation case revealed the extent of how far Fox personalities embraced nonsense about the 2020 election on-air even while privately admitting that they did not believe the claims the Trump campaign was making about election fraud.

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