RFK Jr. testifies at a House hearing over online censorship

RFK Jr. testifies at a House hearing over online censorship

RFK Jr. testifies at a House hearing over online censorship

WASHINGTON — House Republicans claimed government censorship of online speech at a public hearing Thursday, with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. testifying despite requests from outside groups to disinvite the Democratic presidential candidate.

The Republican-led Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government is amplifying GOP claims that conservatives and others are being unfairly targeted by technology companies that routinely work with the government to try to stem the spread of disinformation online.

In opening remarks, the panel's chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, cited what he portrayed as examples of censorship, including a White House request to Twitter to remove a post from Kennedy about COVID-19 vaccines.

“There was nothing in there that was factually inaccurate,” Jordan claimed about the tweet from Kennedy, which aired unproven suggestions about the vaccine's effect on certain demographic groups. “Just the facts.”

Jordan said, “It's why Mr. Kennedy is running for president — to help us expose and stop what's going on.”

The top Democrat on the panel, Del. Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands, said the Republican majority is giving a platform to Kennedy and others to promote conspiracy theories and a rallying cry for “bigotry and hate.”

"This is not the kind of free speech I know," Plaskett said.

A watchdog group asked the panel's chairman, Jordan, to drop the invitation to Kennedy after the Democratic presidential candidate falsely suggested COVID-19 could have been “ethnically targeted” to spare Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people.

In the filmed remarks first published by The New York Post, Kennedy said “there is an argument” that COVID-19 “is ethnically targeted” and that it “attacks certain races disproportionately.”

After the video was made public, Kennedy posted on Twitter that his words were twisted and denied ever suggesting that COVID-19 was deliberately engineered to spare Jewish people. He called for the Post’s article to be retracted.

An organization that Kennedy founded, Children’s Health Defense, currently has a lawsuit pending against a number of news organizations, among them The Associated Press, accusing them of violating antitrust laws by taking action to identify misinformation, including about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines.