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Musk Hosts Twitter Event for Anti-Vaxx Democratic Candidate RFK Jr.

By Nandita Bose and Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Elon Musk on Monday hosted Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the anti-vaccine activist and long-shot Democratic presidential hopeful, in his second Twitter Spaces event for a 2024 White House candidate.

But unlike Republican Ron DeSantis’s glitch-plagued campaign launch on Twitter in May, the live audio chat with Kennedy was broadcast without major technological problems. Their 2.5-hour conversation had an audience of over 64,000 at some points.

In April, Kennedy Jr., the son of assassinated 1968 Democratic candidate Robert F. Kennedy, announced a long-shot bid to challenge incumbent President Joe Biden for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kennedy Jnr. criticized social-distancing requirements and vaccine mandates. At a 2022 rally in Washington he suggested that Americans had fewer freedoms during the pandemic than Jews living in Nazi Germany. He later apologized for his remarks.

Kennedy had been banned by social media platforms for spreading misinformation about vaccines and COVID-19. He was recently reinstated by Instagram.

On Monday, he praised Twitter CEO Musk for doing away with the “censorship” of social media.

“I think if we don’t protect free speech at all costs, we don’t have a functioning democracy,” Kennedy Jr. said during a free-wheeling conversation.

Kennedy accused social media companies of folding to pressure from the government to censor anti-establishment views. LGBTQ+ activists and other groups say they’ve seen a rise in threats and intolerance on Twitter since Musk took over.

Kennedy’s anti-vaccine activism has earned him allies on the right. In 2017, former Republican President Donald Trump tapped him to oversee a vaccine review panel, drawing criticism from scientists who said it could legitimize unfounded skepticism.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Heather Timmons and Alistair Bell)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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Nathan is an experienced journalist. He's covered a broad spectrum of topics, including politics, culture, and human interest stories, always aiming to engage and inform his audience. Nathan has a degree in Journalism and upholds the highest standards of integrity and accuracy in his work.

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