The lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, which have proven safe and effective at minimizing the spread and severity of a virus that's killed over 800 thousand Americans, remain the subject of right-wing disinformation and conspiracy theories.
From the halls of Congress to the dark corners of the internet, far-right personalities have insisted the vaccines are unnecessary or dangerous, or even that they're magnetized or microchipped or a manifestation of the biblical "mark of the beast."
Among the most prominent anti-vaxxers is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the lawyer son of the late U.S. Senator.
Kennedy has been against vaccines since 2005, often repeating the long-debunked claim that vaccines cause autism, so it comes as no surprise that he's been against COVID-19 vaccines since they first materialized. He's falsely insisted that the vaccines are secret medical experiments on Black Americans. He was banned from Instagram earlier this year for his deranged disinformation regarding the vaccines.
But like so many of his ideological counterparts, Kennedy is so certain that his vaccine fantasies are correct, he's challenged CNN anchor Jake Tapper to debate him on the legitimacy of the vaccines.
.@jaketapper We both feel passionate about our views on vaccine mandates. Let's have a debate for the benefit of Americans. We can debate your enthusiastic support of censorship and our divergent opinions on Dr. Fauci's effectiveness as the covid pandemic manager. #MakeJakeDebate
— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) December 21, 2021
If Tapper were to agree to the debate, it would all but certainly grant Kennedy a platform to further spew his vaccine nonsense—an effort that runs in direct opposition with Tapper's obligations as a journalist.
Tapper noted this as he called Kennedy's effort "Truly embarrassing."
No, I’m not going to lend credence to a conspiracy theorist whose views are so false, unhinged, and dangerous to public health his own siblings feel the need publish op-eds against him.https://t.co/sLCLs3OQ7n https://t.co/zKNZifvI1s
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) December 22, 2021
Tapper also shared a May 2019 article from Kennedy's siblings, denouncing his anti-vaccine stance months before the first case of COVID-19 reached American shores.
Social media users supported Tapper's answer.
As much as I’d like to watch Jake shred someone so ignorant and dangerous with truth and science, it would only lend credence to another conspiracy theorist. And we’ve got plenty of that to contend with already. https://t.co/jAWgPCHIyx
— Paul Tamasy (@PaulTamasy) December 23, 2021
Truly refreshing to see a journalist not feel the need to “both sides” an issue that doesn’t have two sides. https://t.co/mQQfKMeUOf
— Mike Shor (@MikeShor) December 22, 2021
Exactly the correct response. https://t.co/zy94XKHr29
— Manu Bhagavan (@ManuBhagavan) December 22, 2021
RFK Jr is a danger to society. Keep dragging him, Jake! https://t.co/ctInKdeM9L
— Dr Robin (@Robinindfw) December 22, 2021
They joined him in slamming Kennedy's absurdities.
Your own blood is against you. Clown https://t.co/bNbzGGUk2E pic.twitter.com/0jfM9N16Jj
— manny (@manumarquez1986) December 22, 2021
And then they can have a debate between an astronomer & astrologist .
— Elaine (@ElaineYoung94) December 22, 2021
Your father would be ashamed of you for your ignorance, arrogance and stupidity. https://t.co/uTHsiEQhaX
— Steve Henson (@SteveHensonME) December 23, 2021
Looks like Kennedy will have to settle for shouting into the void.