Robert F. Kennedy Jr. worked to defend himself Thursday against allegations that he peddles hateful and racist conspiracy theories online, testifying at a House hearing on government censorship despite requests from outside groups to deinvite the Democratic presidential nominee after his recent anti-Semitic comments.
The Republican-led Select Subcommittee on Weaponizing the Federal Government is amplifying GOP claims that conservatives and others are being unfairly targeted by tech companies that routinely work with the government to try to stop the spread of disinformation online.
Democrats argued that with free speech comes a responsibility not to spread misinformation, particularly when it encourages violence.
In opening remarks, Kennedy invoked the legacy of his famous family by denouncing the allegations of racism and anti-Semitism against him.
“This is an attempt to censor a censorship hearing,” said Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy.
Increasingly encouraged, Kennedy defended his remarks, which have delved into race, vaccine safety and other issues, as “neither racist nor anti-Semitic.” He said his family has long believed in the First Amendment right to free speech.
“The First Amendment was not written to be easily spoken,” Kennedy said. “It was written for the speech nobody likes you for.”
Republicans are eager to elevate Kennedy after he announced in April that he was staging a long-shot Democratic primary challenge to President Joe Biden.
Kennedy’s presidential campaign chairman, Dennis Kucinich, a former congressman and former presidential contender, sat in the front row behind him during the more than three-hour hearing.
Big Tech companies have strongly denied the Republican Party’s claims and say they enforce their rules fairly to everyone, regardless of ideology or political affiliation. And researchers have found no widespread evidence that social media companies are biased against conservative news, posts or materials.
[Con información de The Associated Press]