Robert F Kennedy Jr makes good money pushing anti-vaccine nonsense

Robert F Kennedy Jr. has used his name and anti-vaccine disinformation campaign to make some serious money. Kennedy and his anti-vaccine falsehoods have been a subject of my writing for years now, but I think everyone should know what he is — another grifter making money by championing anti-vaccine nonsense.

Kennedy was a fairly good environmental lawyer many years ago, still trading on his name and connections. I find it ironic that he was all about science when it comes to environmental issues like climate change, but he simply denies all science when it comes to vaccines. Of course, his family isn’t happy with his anti-vaccine drivel, and his wife, actress Cheryl Hines, was appalled by his anti-semitic references regarding Anne Frank and vaccine mandates. What is it with anti-vaxxers and anti-semitic fascism?

Let’s take a look at how Kennedy has profited from his anti-vaccine claptrap. I’m sure it will be enlightening.

Anti-vaccine Robert F Kennedy Jr makes some serious bank

Robert F. Kennedy Jr is the scion of the Kennedy family and has a long history of campaigning against vaccines, because, as he tells it, some random woman claimed that her son’s autism was caused by mercury in a childhood vaccine. Of course, “mercury” (actually, thiomersal which is not equivalent to mercury) hasn’t been in vaccines for decades, and the vast body of real science has again and again and again shown that vaccines are not linked to autism.

In 2021, he was named one of the “Disinformation Dozen” by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a British non-profit that tracks conspiracy theories and misinformation across the globe.

Recently, the New York Post investigated Kennedy’s moneymaking activities in relation to vaccines and came up with some amusing numbers. Now, I know what you’re going to say, “the fucking New York Post, Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper? Are you even the real Skeptical Raptor?”

Obviously, I clicked on the link with trepidation, but the reporter did an excellent job analyzing Kennedy’s finances. And a conservative paper taking down an anti-vaxxer these days is kind of amazing. So, forgive me for using the New York Post as a source, but sometimes I have to dive into the cesspool to retrieve the gold. So to speak.

Let’s take a look at Kennedy’s income, all related to his anti-vaccine bunk:

  • He earned $345,561 in 2020 as the chairman of his anti-vaccine organization, Children’s Health Defense. This is a huge payraise of more than $90,000 over his 2019 salary. Obviously, I am on the wrong side of the vaccine discussion, I could sell my ethics and become an anti-vaccine shill, since it is much more profitable.
  • Kennedy also made $116,683 in 2019 as president of the Riverkeeper Alliance, an environmental charity to clean up the Hudson River. I don’t begrudge him that, because despite how despicable he is about vaccines, I am way over on his side with respect to the environment. I am just mentioning this because he’s not exactly short of cash.
  • But now we come to where he’s raking in the cash, his anti-vaccine diatribe, “The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health,” that has sold 390,000 hardback copies at $32.50 each, according to NPD BookScan, plus 185,000 e-books and 142,000 audio books since its Nov. 17 release. According to the New York Post, “Authors typically receive 20 to 30 percent in royalties on hardcover sales, which would translate to a windfall of $2.5 million to $3.8 million for Kennedy, plus additional money from any advance and e-book sales, but it’s not clear how much the author has earned.”

  • Oh, the book’s publisher has just ordered another printing of 150,000 copies. I can hear the anti-vaccine shill money being delivered to Kennedy’s front door.

To be fair, he claims that some of the income from the book will be given to his anti-vaccine group, Children’s Health Defense, who will probably just increase his salary by another massive amount.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Thoughts

Look, I’m a capitalist — as long as you make your money ethically (which can be challenging), I don’t care if you earn $15 an hour or $1 million per day. There are reasons for each, but that is way out of the scope of my expertise and this blog.

But is Robert F Kennedy Jr making money from anti-vaccine disinformation ethical? He seems to be an intelligent man, with a long history in liberal politics (though, he cannot be considered a liberal anymore), but it is clear that he is denying the settled science about vaccines. He is using the same exact science denialism that climate change deniers use. It’s pathetic.

He is making a lot of money pushing anti-vaccine garbage which directly harms all of us, especially during this dangerous pandemic. How many people will die of COVID-19 because he has lied about the vaccine? How many people will contract cancer because he has lied about the HPV vaccine? How many children will die of vaccine-preventable diseases because he lies about vaccines and autism?

At that point, it’s clear that the money Kennedy earns pushing this anti-vaccine balderdash are ill-gotten gains. But if he’s not going to listen to his own family about vaccines, he’s certainly not going to listen to those of us pointing out his ignorance.

Just remember, none of us pushing vaccines get a dime from anyone (except when you generously make contributions or join on Patreon), yet the ultimate anti-vaccine shill makes much more than any of us.


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The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!