(Jun. 17, 2023) — June 5, 2023, Democrat presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Elon Musk co-hosted a live Twitter discussion with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, venture capitalist David Sacks, investigative journalist Michael Shellenberger and securities attorney Omeed Malik, about issues they believe ought to be at the forefront of the political debate going into the 2024 presidential election.
Topics covered included free speech versus censorship, the destruction of democracy, the Ukraine war, foreign policy, the humanitarian crisis at the border, COVID, the link between mass shootings and antidepressants, the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI) and more.
Not surprisingly, the liberal media chastised Kennedy for championing “right-wing ideas and misinformation” during the interview. In fact, that was The New York Times’ headline.1
The NYT went on to smear Kennedy as “a leading vaccine skeptic” who promotes “conspiracy theories” and “sounded like a candidate … in the mushrooming Republican presidential contest.” Translation: He’s a rational realist who doesn’t shy away from difficult truths and inconvenient facts.
“He said he planned to travel to the Mexican border this week to ‘try to formulate policies that will seal the border permanently,’ called for the federal government to consider the war in Ukraine from the perspective of Russians and said pharmaceutical drugs were responsible for the rise of mass shootings in America,” The NYT complained, adding:
“He claimed, without evidence, that ‘COVID was clearly a bioweapons problem.’ American intelligence agencies do not believe there is any evidence indicating that is the case.”
Similarly, CNN wrote Kennedy off as a “marginal candidate who espouses debunked medical claims,” complaining he “attacked the closing of churches, social distancing and government track-and-trace surveillance.”2
I suggest listening to the discussion for yourself, as most mainstream media reporting on it didn’t do it justice. Below, I’ll review some of the key issues discussed, with a focus on Kennedy’s stances and election promises, seeing how the establishment is doing everything in their power to prevent people from learning what he stands for.
Kennedy on Social Media Censorship
Proving the ties between the Biden administration and Big Tech are still alive and well in the post-COVID era, Instagram recently suspended Kennedy’s official presidential campaign page, after reinstating his personal page, which had been banned for the last couple of years. Kennedy commented:
“I was evicted from Instagram … in the spring of 2021. The day I was evicted, I had about 770,000 [followers], but I had been up to 900,000. Whenever I hit 900,000, they would cut them back to 800,000 or 700,000, so I was losing followers all the time.
They said it was because I was promoting misinformation. But the term is ‘information,’ and [has] nothing to do with … factual accuracy or inaccuracy. It was simply a euphemism for any statement that departed from the government orthodoxies and government proclamations …
Since I’ve declared the presidency [run], now we have about 50 people working for the campaign, and each of those people has an Instagram handle — for example, my daughter-in-law is Amaryllis@TeamKennedy.com — and when they attempted to register, Instagram would send them a flag saying ‘You’ve been suspended for 180 days.’
So, none of them were allowed on. And, of course, that’s illegal under Section 413 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which regulates speech. It protects speech during presidential and other federal election campaigns …
But I don’t want to be pointing the finger at Meta right now, because I think it’s time for healing in this country. I’m happy that I’ve been reinstated, and they gave me back all my old posts, and all my old followers …“
If elected president, Kennedy vows to call the heads of all social media companies into the Oval Office and “not walk out until we have figured out how to make this work and make it consistent with democracy.”
Like Sachs, Kennedy doesn’t believe that social media companies want to censor any of their users. Rather, they’re pressured to do so by advertisers and the government itself, which is using private companies to circumvent the U.S. Constitution. Were social media companies to continue censoring anyway, then turning them into common carriers could be one solution.
“I’m pretty much a free speech absolutist,” Kennedy said, “and I think the remedy for misinformation is more information, and the remedy for bad speech is more speech. It’s never censorship. Censorship is by far the worst solution. There are forms of speech that are not protected, [such as] inciting violence [and] pedophilia … and you can censor those.
But if it’s protected speech, I don’t think it should be censored. But I think in any case, we should understand the logic, the algorithms and the methodologies, and we should all have access to those. That’s key, because these institutions are now the public square. They are a place where speech takes place … and we have to figure out a way to integrate them into our democratic values system.”
Musk is also adamant about the need for free speech. “I think if we don’t protect free speech at all costs, we don’t have a functioning democracy. If we don’t have a functioning democracy, nothing else matters,” Musk said. Ironically, since his acquisition of Twitter, the Democratic Party and its press allies have routinely portrayed Musk as a “threat to democracy,” primarily based on his support of free speech.
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How Do We Combat Government Capture of Corporations?
Malik also brought up an interesting point. Kennedy has frequently discussed the problems we have with regulatory capture — the fact that most of our regulatory agencies, including the FDA, CDC and EPA are controlled by the very industries they’re supposed to regulate.
As a result, there’s no one to make sure the public is not harmed by dangerous drugs, vaccines and chemicals. But a reverse kind of capture has also taken place, as elements within the federal government are pressuring private companies to violate the Bill of Rights on the government’s behalf, while pretending these companies are doing it of their own volition.
“How do we prevent our Bill of Rights from being violated by private actors when the government uses them to do their dirty work?” Malik asked Kennedy. “I’m not just talking about censorship here. I’m actually talking about the deprivation of economic liberty.”
“In terms of the role of these agencies in compelling behavior from U.S. corporations, it is appalling, and as soon as I get into office, I’m going to issue an executive order forbidding the federal agencies — whether it’s NIH, the CIA, the FBI — from participating in any efforts to censor speech by the American public, or to compel other behavior from the American public that is not legally required.
That’s what we saw during the pandemic. We saw it in the vaccine mandates, and we saw it in the censorship of speech. I will forbid that, and make sure that it does not happen [again], at least not during my term in office. Immediately, the first week I’m in office, I will sign that executive order.”
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