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Wednesday, January 10, 2024

RFK Jr., Antivaxxers, and Campaign Finance

  In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrongA leading anti-vaxxer is presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.  He has repeatedly compared vaccine mandates to the Holocaust.  Rolling Stone and Salon retracted an RFK article linking vaccines to autism.

At Puck, Theodore Schleifer reports on RFK Jr.'s fundraising:
On January 1, he held a high-dollar event with folks in Aspen, where “apres ski attire” was recommended; on January 16, donors in Hawaii can wear “aloha attire” for a “private sunset reception” with Kennedy and his wife, Cheryl Hines, or join him two days later to go whale watching at a “very special event on a beautiful catamaran in the heart of Oahu.”

Several of the hosts come from the so-called “health freedom” community—the euphemism for these anti-vaccine activists—as is true of many people in R.F.K.’s fundraising orbit and supportive super PACs. For instance, this past weekend in Oregon, Kennedy spoke and answered questions at a sold-out cocktail reception outside of Portland hosted by J.B. Handley, the founder of Generation Rescue, an organization that has pushed links between vaccines and autism. It was attended by about 170 people who paid a minimum of $500 to be there, making it, at minimum, an $85,000-grossing event. There’s plenty of money in the vaccine-skeptic world.