Fox News has all but ignored a Saturday report that a Democratic presidential candidate was caught on video pushing the deranged conspiracy theory that COVID-19 was “ethnically targeted” to exclude Jewish people.
Fox’s silence would seem inexplicable if the candidate in question weren’t the anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The network and other right-wing outlets have relentlessly promoted his campaign in a thinly veiled plot to hurt President Joe Biden’s reelection effort.
Kennedy said there’s “an argument” that COVID-19 is “ethnically targeted” at a press dinner last week, adding: “COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”
His comments, first reported by Fox’s corporate cousins at The New York Post, drew swift condemnations from Asian and Jewish organizations — and praise from neo-Nazis and other virulent antisemites.
Kennedy’s remarks have been widely covered in the press, including on MSNBC and CNN. But Fox did not mention the story all weekend and as of Monday at noon ET had given it only a single passing reference at the end of a segment on the candidate’s forthcoming congressional testimony
As a Republican propaganda outlet that typically goes to great lengths to attack Democrats, Fox would be expected to seize on comments like Kennedy’s under most circumstances. But in a virtually unprecedented arrangement for a Democrat, Fox treats Kennedy as a candidate to build up, not one to tear down.
Fox has spent months puffing up Kennedy’s primary campaign. Its website provides a regular stream of stories about his candidacy, with headlines like “RFK Jr. posts push-up video after viral bench press” and “RFK Jr. says he can beat Biden in 2024 primary.”
Its on-air personalities have praised him as a “truth-teller” and “one of the most remarkable people we have met”; touted his poll numbers, his so-called “dissenting medical views,” and his “vision”; and denounced the press, the Democratic Party, and the “deep state” for allegedly conspiring to defeat him.
Kennedy has appeared for at least 10 weekday interviews on Fox this year. He appeared on Fox & Friends on Friday, the day before the publication of the Post story, to field questions like the following from co-host Steve Doocy: “You've gone viral not only with your message, but just your sheer masculinity. I mean, you've got those workout videos that are floating around. I mean, that — what did that video teach you about the state of American politics in 2023?”
Fox isn’t the only right-wing entity trying to pump Kennedy up.
Steve Bannon, the former Trump adviser and pardon recipient, has spent years promoting Kennedy and his conspiracy theories. And after Kennedy announced his candidacy earlier this year, CBS News’ Robert Costa reported that Bannon “had been encouraging this for months” in part because he thinks Kennedy could be “a useful chaos agent” in the 2024 race.
Several current or former Trump advisers have also praised Kennedy’s run because they believe it will help Trump defeat Biden.
Kennedy’s campaign has been celebrated by right-wing media figures and funded by Republican donors. This week, he is scheduled to appear as a witness for the Republican-controlled House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.