RFK Jr’s descent into conspiracy theories causing anguish for family and friends, report says

Friends and family of Robert F Kennedy Jr have said they are dismayed at his descent into “fear-mongering” by spreading anti-vaccine conspiracies.

In interviews with The New York Times, two of his surviving siblings said Mr Kennedy’s emergence as one of the most prominent anti-vax activists in the United States was causing anguish among the family.

The nephew of assassinated US president John F Kennedy triggered fresh outrage last month when he suggested attempts to impose vaccine mandates in the US were worse than what happened in Nazi Germany. “Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland, you could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did,” he said at a rally in Washington DC.

He later apologised, after being publicly criticised by his wife Cheryl Hines, who said his Anne Frank remark was “reprehensible”. His sister Kerry Kennedy tweeted at the time: “Bobby’s lies and fear-mongering yesterday were both sickening and repulsive.”

Ms Kennedy told the Times he had been an “extraordinary older brother”, describing him as well-read, charismatic and possessing a “childlike buoyancy and lightness”.

“He’s a beautiful person in a million different ways. And then he has this,” she said.

A brother, Christopher G Kennedy, told the Times he had been stunned by the Nazi comparison. “I love my brother but could not disagree with him more.”

Five of his eight surviving siblings have publicly criticised him in the last few years. And longtime friend Blake Fleetwood told the Times he was perplexed at why Mr Kennedy “was blowing his whole life’s work” by taking on the anti-vaccine crusade.

Cheryl Hines,  star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr (Getty Images for Waterkeeper All)
Cheryl Hines, star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr (Getty Images for Waterkeeper All)

For more than a decade, Mr Kennedy has spread vaccine conspiracy theories to his vast social media following and in bestselling books. Public health officials have described him as a longtime spreader of vaccine misinformation.

His views became more prominent during the pandemic. Among Mr Kennedy’s controversial views are that Joe Biden’s leading Covid adviser Anthony Fauci and Microsoft founder Bill Gates are working with big pharma to profit from the vaccine rollout.

He has claimed 5G towers are being installed across the nation “to harvest our data and control our behaviour”. Mr Kennedy has also cast doubt over whether Sirhan Sirhan murdered his father, the former attorney-general and presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968.

In an interview with The Independent in January, Mr Kennedy denied he had compared vaccine mandates to Nazi Germany. “I was making a point that modern technology leads to totalitarian regimes, and gave several examples, which is a totally different point,” he said.