On a podcast with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Charlie Kirk promotes vaccine disinformation

Charlie Kirk’s interview with anti-vax conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. makes tech companies complicit in promoting COVID-19 misinformation

On the July 10 edition of The Charlie Kirk Show, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk interviewed vocal anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who promoted a conspiracy theory about Bill Gates and vaccination efforts in Africa and falsely claimed that vaccines harm the immune systems of children. This dangerous misinformation is now being spread on numerous major podcast services, including Apple, Spotify, and Audible.

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Citation From the July 10, 2021, edition of PodcastOne's The Charlie Kirk Show

CHARLIE KIRK (HOST): If you were having a child today -- let's say you have a grandchild -- would you vaccinate them at all, would you pick a couple vaccinations? You said there are 72. Would you vaccinate kids today? 

ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.: Well, I wouldn't give any child experimental technology. So experimental medical interventions. So I would say, you know, at this point until you show me -- show me a test, show me a study that shows a vaccinated kid is healthier than an unvaccinated kid and I will give every vaccine to my children. But, unfortunately -- I'm sorry, they will not allow that study to be done. You know, and if you go on our website, there are independent studies that have been done. 


And so, when you ask me that question, my answer to you is, you know, I'm not going to give my kid a medical intervention unless I understand what the risks are and have a clear idea what the benefits are. And for these medical interventions, you need to look at five or 10 years and see -- you know, there are over 50 studies now that show that if you got measles when you were a kid, you're much more less likely to get Hodgkin's lymphoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, ovarian cancer, [unintelligible] diseases, and cardiac diseases when you're older. So ways in that we understand, getting these childhood diseases -- and it's true of chickenpox or mumps -- getting these childhood diseases somehow alters your immune system and makes it more robust against certain other illnesses. We need a study that says it's still worthwhile to get it because those illnesses kill a lot more people than measles ever did. And, you know, we to know a real science here that says OK, here are the risks of getting this disease and here are the benefits of getting the vaccine and here are the costs of getting the vaccine. Those kind of studies are the studies that Tony Fauci is in charge of doing but he makes sure they never happen. 

Kirk has frequently promoted conspiracy theories regarding COVID-19. He has repeatedly attacked the science supporting mask mandates; claimed that “by historical standards, this is not a pandemic”; advocated for people to disregard local public health ordinances; and recently compared vaccine requirements to apartheid during an appearance on Fox News. (Per Media Matters’ internal database, Kirk has been a guest on weekday Fox News programming at least 68 times since January 1, 2020.)

STAT and others have debunked Kennedy's claims. He runs an organization devoted to spreading anti-vax propaganda, including attacks on the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. Although he was banned from Instagram for promoting COVID-19 misinformation in February, Kennedy’s views have gained a larger audience on Fox as the network has become increasingly blatant about pushing anti-vax misinformation. In January, Laura Ingraham interviewed him on her podcast, during which she lavished praise on his efforts to undermine people’s faith in vaccines. Tucker Carlson, who once interviewed Kennedy on Fox, has been peddling similar talking points against the COVID-19 vaccine to Kennedy’s.

By hosting Kirk’s interview with Kennedy, companies like Apple, Spotify, Audible, and others are helping to spread dangerous anti-vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories after over 600,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.