By Zachary Stieber
ABC News cut off a presidential candidate when he started talking about COVID-19 vaccines, raising concerns about censorship.
Robert Kennedy Jr., who recently announced his presidential run as a Democrat, sat down with ABC News for a lengthy interview released on April 27.
After airing clips of the interview, reporter Linsey Davis spoke to viewers.
“We should note that during our conversation, Kennedy made false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines,” she said. “We’ve used our editorial judgment in not including extended portions of that exchange in our interview,” Davis said.
The claims in question were not listed, and ABC did not return a request for comment.
Davis indicated that at least one dealt with the effectiveness of the vaccines.
“Data shows that the COVID-19 vaccine has prevented millions of hospitalizations and deaths from the disease,” Davis said. She did not provide any citations for the claim.
“He also made misleading claims about the relationship between vaccination and autism. Research shows that vaccines and the ingredients used in the vaccines do not cause autism, including multiple studies involving more than a million children and major medical associations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the advocacy group Autism Speaks,” she added.
Kennedy said that what happened violated the U.S. law that bars some media outlets from censoring candidates for public office.
“ABC showed its contempt for the law, democracy, and its audience by cutting most of the content of my interview with host Linsey Davis leaving only cherry-picked snippets and a defamatory disclaimer,” Kennedy said.
“Offering no evidence, ABC justified this act of censorship by falsely asserting that I made ‘false claims.’ In truth, Davis engaged me in a lively, informative, and mutually respectful debate on the government’s Covid countermeasures. I’m happy to supply citations to support every statement I made during that exchange. I’m certain that ABC’s decision to censor came as a shock to Linsey as well. Instead of journalism, the public saw a hatchet job,” he added.
Before airing the interview, Davis described Kennedy as “one of the biggest voices pushing anti-vaccine rhetoric, regularly distributing misinformation and disinformation about vaccines, which scientific and medical experts overwhelmingly say are safe and effective based on rigorous scientific studies.” She did not mention how the vaccines are increasingly ineffective against newer COVID-19 variants and how the vaccines have been proven to cause serious problems, including heart inflammation and death.
Critics decried ABC’s cutting of Kennedy’s remarks.
“The most outrageous part of this is ABC gets to ream RFK Jr. about vaccines during the interview but then censor his ability to even respond while forcing us to blindly trust them that his claims were ‘false,’” commentator John Ziegler wrote on Twitter. “All this after they were wrong about vaccines stopping transmission.”
Producer Alex Lorusso noted that ABC never censored officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci, who have made false and misleading claims about vaccine effectiveness, including his claims on ABC in January 2021 that if enough people were vaccinated, herd immunity would be achieved.
“They are going to censor to interfere with the 2024 election, and they won’t even hide it,” Lorusso added on Twitter.
“At the end of this otherwise interesting interview with Robert Kennedy Jr., ABC News admits they censored ‘extended portions’ relating to discussions around the COVID ‘vaccine,’” Townhall writer Scott Morefield wrote on Twitter. “If his claims are so easily disproven, why not simply disprove them instead of resorting to censorship?”