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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Sues Media Outlets Over Misinformation Initiative

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., chairman and chief litigation counsel of Children’s Health Defense, filed an antitrust lawsuit against some of the world’s largest media conglomerates, including Reuters, Associated Press, BBC, Washington Post and The New York Times. 

The suit alleges that the networks’ Trusted News Initiative is an unlawful agreement among the companies to silence smaller publishing competitors who may provide important vaccine coverage that contradicts the big tech giants’ narrative on Covid-19 and vaccines. 

The Trusted News Initiative partners sued by Kennedy and others describe itself as a “global partnership bringing together organisations across media and technology to tackle harmful disinformation.” 

Initiative members, news publishers and social media companies, “alert each other to high-risk disinformation” so that both publishers and social media platforms don’t “unwittingly share dangerous falsehoods,” according to its website

“By their own admission, members of the ‘Trusted News Initiative’ (‘TNI’) agreed to work together, and have in fact worked together, to exclude from the world’s dominant Internet platforms rival news publishers who engage in reporting that challenges and competes with TNI members’ reporting on certain issues relating to COVID-19 and U.S. politics,” the complaint reads.

It goes on: “For example, TNI members deemed the following to be ‘misinformation’ that could not be published on the world’s dominant Internet platforms: (A) claims that COVID originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China; (B) claims that the COVID vaccines do not prevent infection; (C) claims that vaccinated persons can transmit COVID to others; and (D) claims that compromising emails and videos were found on a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden.”

Furthermore, Mr. Kennedy Jr.’s lawsuit claims that this initiative enabled these large corporations to monopolize information about the pandemic and its various treatments and remedies; in particular those related to vaccines. 

The suit seeks to address collusion between these giant media companies by calling for an injunction against them so that smaller independent media outlets can continue to provide factual reports about Covid-19 vaccines without fear of retribution from these giants of big tech companies.    

Kennedy Jr. and other plaintiffs claim that Facebook and other social media platforms suspended Children Health Defense accounts and censored content regarding Covid-19 vaccines. 

The suit also argues that Twitter, YouTube and Instagram violated their rules prohibiting misinformation. The lawsuit was filed after Kennedy Jr.  wrote a letter to Senators Klobuchar and Lujan Grisham in which he characterized the censorship of vaccine skeptics on social media platforms as “dangerous”. 

In his letter, Kennedy said: “We will not allow these companies to continue to manipulate public opinion by silencing voices who present facts that disagree with their corporate ideology or agenda.” 

The lawsuit seeks plaintiffs for a class action suit against Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for violating consumer protection laws by censoring vaccine activists.   

The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial, an order for the Trusted News Initiative to suspend any activities “with Internet companies to boycott and censor other online news publishers,” and unspecified damages. 

The Trusted News Initiative was launched as an online news initiative in December 2020 with the goal of providing accurate information about Covid-19 and vaccines to the public by “suspending activities with Internet companies to boycott and censor other online news publishers.”    

Kennedy Jr. told The Defender:

“My uncle, President Kennedy, and my father, the attorney general, sought to prosecute antitrust laws that are still on the nation’s books, with vigor.

“As private enforcers of those laws, we are confident that the federal court in Texas will vindicate our bedrock freedom to compete with legacy media in the marketplace of ideas.”

Mary Holland, CHD president and general counsel, told The Defender:

“I’m glad that CHD is bringing this case. We are hopeful we will get a fair hearing, and I’m glad that we are together with other organizations that have also been harmed by these corporate and governmental censorship policies.

“To have a free society, you have to have free speech, you have to have a diversity of views. We don’t have the same views as all of the other plaintiffs by far … but we want to protect the marketplace of ideas.

“If in fact the government and the corporations they collaborate with can engage in censorship and propaganda nonstop, and there are no alternative voices, democracy is dead.”

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