Stylized photos of Robert F. Kennedy Jr mid-speaking, tinted a bluish green, with yellow lines indicating speech emanating from his mouth. One is in the center and one each on the left and right, arranged perpendicularly to the middle one

Molly Butler / Media Matters

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Research: Since announcing a presidential run as a Democrat, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has been on a tour of right-wing media

While ostensibly running for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is spending much of his campaign basking in the doting eyes of right-wing media. Since announcing his candidacy in April, Kennedy has made dozens of friendly appearances on podcasts and TV shows that frequently push conservative values or policies.

Kennedy wasn’t always so well-loved by right-wing media; as a longtime environmentalist, he was once disliked by many conservative pundits. However, during the pandemic his longtime anti-vaccine beliefs gained cultural currency among the right, where he’s increasingly seen as “a man of integrity that fights fluoride and poison shots,” as Infowars’ Alex Jones said during his endorsement of Kennedy’s campaign. 

Now, right-wing media are transparently leveraging Kennedy’s run in a cynical attempt to weaken President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon promoted Kennedy on his War Room podcast for nearly two years and encouraged him to run as a “chaos agent,” in the words of CBS’ Robert Costa.

Over the past four months, Fox News has hosted Kennedy 13 times, promoting his campaign so heavily that his coverage has eclipsed that of some Republican primary candidates. Similarly, Newsmax invited him on its programs 7 times. He also was interviewed on podcasts from conservative media fixtures like Jordan Peterson and Bari Weiss. (Alongside some more mainstream interviews, Kennedy has also appeared with a number of other media figures who are frequent conduits for right-wing misinformation, such as podcasters Russell Brand and Joe Rogan.)

On the day of his formal announcement, Kennedy appeared on Fox's now-defunct prime-time show Tucker Carlson Tonight, where the host called him “one of the most remarkable people we have met.” Other stops on Kennedy’s right-wing media tour offered similar praise, with hosts saying they’ve “had an evolution” on him and warning conservative audiences that he’ll be smeared and discredited by the media for simply being “somebody that is awake.” 

Below is a timeline of the monthslong effort by right-wing media to elevate Kennedy's candidacy. 

  • April 2023

    • April 19: Kennedy appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight the day he launched his campaign. 
    • April 22: Kennedy appeared on Fox News’ Cavuto Live with anchor Neil Cavuto, who is also both a senior vice president and managing editor for business news at Fox.
    • April 23: Kennedy joined Breitbart News Sunday hosted by Breitbart Senior Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak.
    • April 25: On Newsmax’s The Record, Kennedy was interviewed by Greta Van Susteren, a former longtime Fox News host and current Newsmax anchor. 
    • April 27: Kennedy joined The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show. Co-host Travis, the founder of Fox-owned sports blog OutKick, has repeatedly used misogynistic language to talk about women, spread COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation, and given a platform to racist content. Sexton — who also hosts Hold the Line for First TV — has used the hateful “groomer” smear against LGBTQ Americans, suggested that the 2022 FBI search at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort was a “preemptive coup,” and fearmongered about immigrants spreading disease into the U.S.
  • May 2023

    • May 2: On the UnHerd podcast, an offshoot of the British conservative site, Kennedy was interviewed by host and Executive Editor Freddie Sayers. 
    • May 4: Kennedy appeared on Newsmax prime-time program Rob Schmitt Tonight. Schmitt, a former Fox host, has spoken out against vaccines as being “against nature,” undermined the threat of white supremacist “Great Replacement” rhetoric, and implied that House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) was given the leadership role because of his race. 
    • May 8: Kennedy made an appearance on the Fox prime-time program Hannity hosted by Sean Hannity, a longtime Trump supporter and adviser who was known among Trump White House staffers as the former president’s “shadow” chief of staff. 
    • May 8: Kennedy also appeared on The Mark Steyn Show, the podcast of conservative Canadian pundit Mark Steyn, who unceremoniously left his role at GB News for spreading COVID-19 vaccine skepticism. 
    • May 11: Former Fox News host Megyn Kelly brought on Kennedy as a guest on her podcast, The Megyn Kelly Show
    • May 16: Kennedy spoke with Fox News’ “straight news” anchor Bret Baier on Special Report
    • May 20: Kennedy appeared for an hourlong interview on the libertarian podcast Part of the Problem
    • May 25: Kennedy visited Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, appearing on The Ingraham Angle.
    • May 31: Former head of Project Veritas James O’Keefe interviewed Kennedy to kick-off the first episode of the OMG Podcast, part of his new O’Keefe Media Group.
    • May 31: Kennedy was a guest on The Wall Street Journal’s Free Expression podcast hosted by Editor-at-Large Gerard Baker. Baker is also the Fox Business host of WSJ at Large and has been criticized for giving Trump an uncritical platform.
  • June 2023

    • June 2: Kennedy joined Fox’s daytime “straight news” program The Faulkner Focus, anchored by Harris Faulkner.
    • June 2: Kennedy also made an appearance on Newsmax’s American Agenda hosted by Bob Sellers and Katrina Szish.
    • June 2: Kennedy guested on the conservative outlet Just the News’ The Sharyl Attkisson Podcast. Attkisson has a track record of falsely linking vaccines to autism, and she embraced anti-immigration content, diminished the risks of COVID-19, and promoted conspiracy theories and extremism while working for Sinclair Broadcast Group. 
    • June 5: In a video since deleted by YouTube for vaccine misinformation, Kennedy was interviewed by right-wing Canadian author and frequent anti-LGBTQ bigot Jordan Peterson. 
    • June 8: Kennedy was again hosted by Fox anchor Cavuto — this time on Your World.
    • June 20: Kennedy again appeared on Newsmax’s The Record with Greta Van Susteren.
    • June 21: Former New York Times opinion writer and culture war agitator Bari Weiss hosted Kennedy as a guest on her podcast, Honestly
    • June 23: Kennedy joined conservative ex-Saturday Night Live cast member and outspoken anti-vaccine advocate Jim Breuer on the Breuniverse podcast. 
    • June 29: The libertarian outlet ReasonTV hosted Kennedy for a lengthy interview with Editor-at-Large Nick Gillespie and senior producer Zach Weissmueller. 
  • July 2023

    • July 6: Kennedy joined Newsmax’s prime-time show Eric Bolling: The Balance.
    • July 7: Kennedy guested on the podcast Judging Freedom with Judge Andrew Napolitano, an admitted 9/11 truther, recurring guest on Alex Jones’ Infowars, and former Fox News judicial analyst
    • July 10: Kennedy once again appeared on Fox during an interview with Jesse Watters, Carlson's prime-time replacement
    • July 12: Kennedy joined Piers Morgan for an interview on Fox News Tonight, the placeholder prime-time program Fox created to fill the scheduling gap left by Tucker Carlson’s departure. (Kennedy also appeared the same day on Morgan's podcast.) 
    • July 14: Kennedy appeared for a friendly interview on Fox & Friends.
    • July 15: Kennedy spoke with right-wing personality Dave Rubin for his podcast, The Rubin Report.
    • July 20: Kennedy joined Fox’s “straight news” anchor Martha MacCallum on her show The Story.
    • July 20: Kennedy made another appearance on Newsmax’s The Record with Greta Van Susteren
    • July 23: Kennedy was interviewed on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures by anchor Maria Bartiromo, who has been known to be one of the network’s most frequent purveyors of misinformation.
    • July 25: Fox News’ Hannity hosted a town hall featuring Kennedy answering questions from voters. 
    • July 26: Kennedy again appeared on Newsmax’s Eric Bolling: The Balance.