Guests urged to be vaccinated at anti-vaxxer Robert F Kennedy Jr’s party | US news

Guests invited to a holiday party at the home of the leading anti-vaxxer Robert F Kennedy Jr were urged to be vaccinated or tested for Covid-19 because, Kennedy said, he is “not always the boss at my own house”.

Speaking to Politico, which reported the request before the party in California last week, Kennedy said his wife, the actor Cheryl Hines, was behind it.

He also said no effort was made to check if guests had been vaccinated or recently tested.

Amid widespread criticism, Doug Heye, a Republican operative, wrote: “The ol’ blame-the-wife-for-wanting-people-to-be-safe-when-you’re-an-anti-vaxxer move. Classy.”

Hines did not comment.

Kennedy, 67, is a nephew of President John F Kennedy and the second son of Robert F Kennedy, the US attorney general, New York senator and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination who was assassinated in 1968.

The younger Kennedy has campaigned on environmental issues but is also a leading vaccines conspiracy theorist and activist against shots including those approved to combat Covid-19, which has killed more than 805,000 in the US and more than 5.3 million worldwide.

Earlier this year, Kennedy was removed from Instagram, for sharing misinformation about Covid-19. His Facebook page remains active, as does his Twitter account.

Last month, Kennedy released a book in which he attacks targets including Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser. Its title, The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health, has been no obstacle to bestseller status on Amazon.

Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported that Kennedy’s anti-vaccination non-profit, Children’s Health Defense, more than doubled revenue in the first year of the pandemic, reporting $6.8m raised.

Earlier this month, Kennedy told Gawker CHD “got funding from independent funders, from people whose children have been injured by medications, from people who want medical freedom”.

Questioned about his decision to title a section of his book Final Solution: Vaccines or Bust, Kennedy said: “I don’t think the vaccines have anything to do with eradicating the Jews.”

According to the AP, CHD has recently expanded the reach of its newsletter, launched an internet TV channel, started a movie studio, opened new US branches and established outposts in Canada, Europe and Australia.

The AP also said CHD had become a leading “alternative and natural medicine site”, with millions of users, in part by targeting groups that may be more prone to distrust vaccines, including mothers and African Americans.

“With the pandemic, [Kennedy has] been turbocharged,” Dr David Gorski, a cancer surgeon at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit and a critic of the anti-vaccine movement, told the AP.

Dr Richard Allen Williams, a cardiologist and founder of the Minority Health Institute, said Kennedy was leading “a propaganda movement” and “absolutely a racist operation” particularly dangerous to Black Americans.

“He’s really the ringleader of the misinformation campaign,” Williams said.

Kennedy did not comment.

His sister, the human rights campaigner Kerry Kennedy, said: “Failure to take vaccines puts people’s lives at risk. It not only impacts the person who refuses the jab but imperils the community at large.”

She also said: “I love Bobby. I think he’s just completely wrong on this issue and very dangerous.”

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