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Will media censors never quit?ABC’s foolish omissions in RFK interview


ABC News did a wide-ranging interview with Robert Kennedy Jr. the other day.

The ABC reporter asked him a number of challenging questions, notably about the lack of support from his own family for his presidential run.

It was interesting stuff, and good journalism — having on the heterodox, newly minted presidential candidate, allowing him to make the case for his candidacy and forcing him to think and reflect out loud.

Then, came the note at the end: ABC, as a matter of “editorial judgment,” had left out portions of the interview where Kennedy had expanded on his anti-vaccine views (which were briefly discussed).

Now this is not, as a technical matter, censorship; ABC News isn’t a government entity and can exercise whatever editorial judgment it pleases.

But the spirit of the exercise was in keeping with censorship, and it reflected how the press and social media platforms operated during the height of the pandemic when they were the self-appointed arbiters of Truth.

This is a mistake in editorial judgment for several reasons. 

One, if you are going to interview RFK Jr., you should let him be RFK Jr.


ABC, as a matter of “editorial judgment,” had left out portions of the interview where Kennedy had expanded on his anti-vaccine views (which were briefly discussed).
Christopher Peterson / SplashNews.com

Editing out his opinion on vaccines is a little like doing a pre-recorded interview with Bernie Sanders and carefully snipping out the socialism, or cutting out Donald Trump’s support for building a wall.

Kennedy’s anti-vax perspective is one of his calling cards, and of a piece with his larger distrust of authority.

Moreover, like it or not, Kennedy’s worldview is now inherently newsworthy; he is a presidential candidate.

It’s true that he isn’t going to sweep all before him and win the Democratic nomination.

Still, he’s polling at a remarkable 20% against an incumbent president who is ideologically compatible with his party and has suffered no major scandals (although one may be brewing over the family influence-peddling business).

Attention should be paid. 

Two, the ABC decision shows how nothing has been learned from the pandemic.

Whatever inherent deference people felt to public-health experts at the outset of COVID should have drastically diminished by the end, given how manipulative many of these authorities were, and how disastrous policy mistakes often had their imprimatur. 

Three, in a free society, we default toward letting people propagate error, and rebutting it with better arguments.


A medical worker prepares a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccination centre set up in the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast.
Vaccines have been scientifically proven to be effective.
AFP via Getty Images

The opposite reflex — to shut down, rather than merely disagree with, people we believe are wrong has led to the lopsided censorship regime created by social-media platforms and the phenomenon of people being censored for views that should fall within the parameters of reasonable debate and have often proved correct. 

Four, as a purely practical question, it’s not clear that trying to keep people from hearing disfavored opinions really works.

In our age of suspicion and of wildly diverse sources of information, it may only lend a kind of credibility to those views.

Fifth, the efficacy and safety of vaccines shouldn’t be beyond debate.

I’m not a fan of Robert Kennedy Jr. in general or of his views on vaccines in particular, which I consider paranoid and unfounded.

All you need to know is that he apparently thinks that Big Pharma forced out Tucker Carlson at Fox News. 

That said, two things can be true at the same time: The COVID vaccines saved lives and were also over-sold.

For too long, the orthodox belief was that they kept people from getting COVID, and people who didn’t get the jab were a threat to everyone around them.

This was the logic behind the COVID mandates that led to the deeply unjust firing of people who, for whatever reason, didn’t want to get the shot.

Anyone who was fully on board with the dogma should now have at least a touch of modesty about trying to shut down cussedly independent dissenting voices. 

Whether the old high-handedness still prevails will be tested by RFK Jr.’s upstart campaign, and the ABC interview suggests the answer is “most definitely, yes.” 

Twitter: @RichLowry



This story originally appeared on NYPost

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