Tucker Carlson airs COVID-19 conspiracy-ridden segment with RFK Jr.

Robert Kennedy Jr. and Fox News host Tucker Carlson on set for "Tucker Carlson Today"
Robert Kennedy Jr. and Fox News host Tucker Carlson.Fox News
  • Tucker Carlson plugged his streaming show Monday night by airing his interview with RFK Jr.

  • Carlson described the longtime anti-vaccine activist as "one of the smartest" political observers.

  • Kennedy made several demonstrably false claims about the pandemic in the interview.

In a new escalation of his anti-science rhetoric concerning the pandemic, Fox News host Tucker Carlson plugged his streaming show by featuring an interview with longtime anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on his primetime cable program on Monday night.

RFK Jr., the son of former Attorney General and Democratic superstar Robert F. Kennedy Sr., appeared on Carlson's show to promote his book, "The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health (Children's Health Defense)." He has been involved with a number of conspiracy theories since the 1980s, most notably alleging with no scientifically credible evidence that vaccines administered to children cause autism and other developmental or mental health disorders, as well as cancer and food allergies.

Multiple studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clearly demonstrate that vaccines do not cause autism. Public-health experts often attribute the false claim to a 1998 study of just 12 children that researchers have since thoroughly debunked. The Lancet ultimately retracted the study in 2010.

Kennedy is also behind a large portion of anti-vaccine ad spending on Facebook. He leads the World Mercury Project, one of two groups that account for roughly half of the social network's ad revenue in that category. He's also been barred from Instagram for "repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines," according to a statement from Facebook given to NPR.

"We have to love our freedom more than we fear a germ," Kennedy said, referring to the coronavirus.

"Even if this was the deadly disease that they say it is, there's worse things than death," he continued.

Carlson, who will not say whether he's been vaccinated against COVID-19 but has not publicly denied it, described Kennedy on Monday as "one of the smartest and most articulate chroniclers of the erosion of our civil liberties in this country."

"This is an exhaustively reported book that I can't recommend strongly enough," Carlson said of Kennedy's book.

More than 5 million people have died from COVID-19 worldwide. The US death toll topped 755,000 as of this month, according to the World Health Organization's tracker.

While Kennedy made more subjective claims about whether religious institutions should have been closed while businesses like liquor stores were deemed essential by many states, his general arguments came down to the coronavirus being less deadly than the global scientific consensus.

Kennedy also falsely claimed that COVID-19 vaccines have led to thousands of deaths. The CDC has found no increased risk for mortality among COVID-19 vaccine recipients. On the contrary, getting vaccinated significantly lowers the risk of dying from COVID-19.

Kennedy made allusions or outright claims to a variety of false conspiracy theories in the interview, such as the US using vaccines to surveil — or "track and trace" — its population. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain microchips or other tracking devices. All three COVID-19 shots available in the US — from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — have passed the Food and Drug Administration's rigorous safety criteria for emergency authorization. The FDA has also fully approved Pfizer's shot for general use among all adults.

Later in the interview, Kennedy also called the polio vaccine "a flawed vaccine" — a scientifically unsubstantiated theory. The vaccine eradicated polio from the United States by 1979, and from the Western Hemisphere by 1994.

Fox News did not respond to Insider's request for comment on Kennedy's appearance on Carlson's show.

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