Robert F. Kennedy Jr. attacks me and Daily Kos. This is my (way too much fun) response

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Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. filed a petition with the Supreme Court of Westchester County to order Daily Kos to disclose the true name of “Downeast Dem” — a blogger who libeled Kennedy on the Daily Kos platform last year. Justice Mary H. Smith ruled in Kennedy’s favor in April, ordering Daily Kos to unmask Kennedy’s incognito attacker. Downeast Dem has no immunity from libel laws. Moulitsas and Kos Media have until tomorrow, June 30, to respond to the subpoena.

First of all, Kennedy does not even understand what happened as a result of his litigation in New York. Judge Smith (in New York) did not order Daily Kos to “unmask” DowneastDem. The New York Court merely allowed Kennedy to serve a subpoena on Daily Kos. And, by the way, June 30 has come and passed, and we haven’t revealed shit. Instead, because RFK Jr. has tried to serve the subpoena on me in my home state, the legal action has moved here as well. The community member’s counsel, Public Citizen (which has been protecting anonymous internet speech for two decades, and has, I am told, never lost a motion protecting their clients’ anonymity) has petitioned the California courts to quash the subpoena, an action that we (Daily Kos) will be joining imminently. Kennedy isn’t getting any information anytime soon. The Constitution is on our side, and we’ll continue to fight.

Moulitsas had been fighting the order in court since December 2020, when Kennedy filed, and dodging the subpoena for a fortnight. Earlier this month, Daily Kos security guards at the company’s San Francisco headquarters twice blocked Kennedy’s process servers from entering the building.

Given that the Daily Kos office is in Oakland, I feel sorry for whichever office building’s security guards were being harassed by Kennedy’s process servers.

Incidentally, a dude showed up to my house and I took the subpoena, no problem. It really does help if you show up at the right place.

The Daily Kos’ malicious article claimed that Kennedy spoke at a Nazi rally in Berlin “organized by right-wing extremist organizations, including the AFD party and various anti-Semitic conspiracy groups as well as the neo-Nazi NPD party.”

He did. Totally. All the evidence is here. Actually, it’s not even all the evidence. I got repetitive with the evidence, so I had to make an editorial decision to spare you all thousands of more words of evidence.

Immediately after Kennedy completed service, his team received a call from a Paul Levy, Esq. of the consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen to inform them that Public Citizen is now representing Downeast Dem, pro bono, in a bid to save Downeast Dem, presumably a Maine Democrat, from having to reveal his identity.

Public Citizen are being heroes, looking out for our most cherished First Amendment freedoms. But take a moment to ponder that as far as Kennedy is concerned, this community member is a “Maine Democrat” (I have no idea if she or he is or isn’t). And despite all his money and power, Kennedy decided that he’s going to throw the weight of the legal system to unmask this person.

Remember, he’s not suing any of the news agencies that reported on Kennedy’s attendance at his Nazi-organized and -attended rally. He’s not suing me for repeating all those claims here. Kennedy isn’t stupid. He knows he fails a true defamation case. Instead, maybe out of paranoia, he’s demanding to know who some random person on the internet is, all because she or he translated a news article on that rally. It is truly mind-blowing.

Public Citizen has a long and noble history of advocating against corruption in the pharmaceutical industry. Kennedy himself has fought alongside Public Citizen during his well-documented history of battling regulatory and industry corruption.

So … maybe Kennedy should rethink this ridiculous crusade? Maybe the fact that a noble organization with a long history of fighting corruption says he’s gone too far, means that he’s gone too far?

“Public Citizen’s choice to take on this case as its cause celebre is one of the most dismaying emblems, to date, of the co-optation of liberal institutions by Big Pharma and the medical cartel,” said [Kennedy’s anti-vax organization’s general counsel Mary] Holland. “We have seen a lot of ideological chaos, confusion, doctrinal bankruptcy and intellectual dishonesty among our leading liberal institutions in the wake of the COVID crisis.”

So check this out—98.9% of all 107,000 COVID-related hospitalizations in May were among the unvaccinated, despite now making up less than one-half of all Americans. 99.2% of the more than 18,000 COVID-related deaths in May were among the unvaccinated.

Kennedy (and his legal team) are working to keep as many people as possible unvaccinated, thus sick and dying. Indeed, the Center for Countering Digital Hate had Kennedy ranked No. 2 among the worst purveyors of anti-vax misinformation.

(Weirdly, Kennedy hasn’t sued them.)

Kennedy’s speech in Berlin was a part of his crusade against Pharma’s growing power over government agencies and public policy. Kennedy says that the industry’s claims about COVID vaccines merit heightened scrutiny during their rollouts.

“Unlike other drugs,” he argued, “vaccines are given to healthy individuals. We therefore should be far less tolerant of risk.”

98.9% of 107,000+ COVID-related hospitalizations in May were among the unvaccinated.

99.2% of 18,000+ COVID-related deaths in May were among the unvaccinated.

What is that about “risk”?

When asked about Public Citizen’s decision to take Pharma’s side in the lawsuit, Kennedy remarked, “Public Citizen has done an extraordinary job documenting the pharmaceutical industry’s relentless and intractable history of homicidal corruption. It’s dismaying that the organization is switching sides at a time when this crisis has amplified the need for fearless pharma watchdogs.”

The whole “switching sides” thing really does speak toward paranoia, right? Why else would he sue a pseudonymous blogger, and not me or the news organizations who covered his little Berlin Nazi rally? Why would he take Public Citizen’s clear engagement in defense of the First Amendment as “switching sides” on the matter of Big Pharma’s corruption? It’s all just so weird. Especially since Public Citizen is no slouch on this subject, having been involved in most of the major cases on the right to speak anonymously online since it won the first major case on this issue in New Jersey in 2001. This is what they’ve always done. No sides have been switched. 

Kennedy reasoned that no matter how badly you want to believe in these vaccines, “there is no reason to think that COVID-19 has suddenly changed Big Pharma’s corrupt institutional culture. We need to be mindful that their opportunities for criminal profiteering are now manifold.”

He pointed out that vaccine makers are getting billions in government subsidies and support for their products.

The vaccines work. People need to take them so that they don’t die due to a global pandemic that has already killed millions. So is Kennedy so blinded in his crusade against “Pharma corruption” (however he defines that), that he’d rather people die than take a life-saving drug that they’ve developed and are selling?

He’d rather people die than see those companies profit from their efforts?

There’s no “criminal profiteering” when it is governments that are literally buying and distributing those vaccines. If it was possible, we’d want governments to spend billions more to help vaccinate the entire world. And yes, governments are supporting the vaccines that are literally saving the lives of millions. What kind of twisted mind thinks that’s a bad thing?

Now if we were talking about the Chinese government peddling Sinovac, then that might make more sense. But that’s not what Kennedy is concerning himself with.

Instead of championing Kennedy’s right to raise these questions, Public Citizen is now defending the supposed right of an anonymous individual to make misleading and false claims about Kennedy that are clearly defamatory.

Yes, it’s called the First Amendment. Not The “Kennedys are above all criticism” Amendment.

“It’s elemental fairness — an American tradition — that Kennedy should be able to face his accuser,” observed Holland. “It seems both cowardly and unfair that Downeast Dem is going to great lengths to remain faceless.”

“Cowardly and unfair,” says the multimillionaire son of a wealthy, powerful family, using the legal system to try and attack a random commenter on the internet.

Note, once again, I repeated everything DowneastDem wrote, and more, and Kennedy isn’t coming after me. He doesn’t want to face his accuser. He wants to know who it is. He wants to dox a critic.

If this was an issue over the truth of the claims, fine: ignore random blogger on the internet, and come after me and Daily Kos. Make a stand on the facts. We’d be happy to have that face-off. We’d win. But his lawyers know damn well that not only would he have zero chance of winning, but he’d be open to paying stiff penalties under New York’s anti-SLAPP law or California’s Anti-SLAPP law. So this isn’t about the truth or facing off against anyone. It’s about his paranoia and pathetic need to know the identity of each one of his critics.

Holland said that Public Citizen’s position does not appear to arise from any coherent ideological conviction but simply because Downeast Dem is attacking an enemy of Big Pharma, which is now thoroughly aligned with Democratic party leadership.

Holland is as committed to nonsensical conspiracy theories as her boss is. Back here in reality, DowneastDem reported to our community on the notable subject of KENNEDY CAVORTING WITH NAZIS.

[Holland:] “I’m in shock that instead of debating Kennedy’s questions and prevailing in the marketplace of ideas, the liberal intelligentsia has responded with censorship and name calling. As a lifelong liberal, I find it mind-blowing that Pharma’s biggest critics have suddenly become its strongest defenders.

“I also find it troubling that liberals, once the champions of free speech, are now advocating censorship.

The people attacking someone’s Free Speech rights are claiming … censorship? Beyond incoherent.

Daily Kos, Public Citizen and other liberal institutions are calling for the muzzling not just of Kennedy but of the many scientists and doctors and anyone else who raises difficult questions about vaccines. They are even deplatforming Americans who report their own vaccine injuries or who cite to government statistics on injury.

Did anyone see anyone call for the “muzzling” of Kennedy? (In fact, even though Kennedy’s comment posted in response to the diary was the worst kind of fake news, and violates our policies, we left it online trusting our community to judge for themselves.) We will point to them when they hang out with Nazis. We will laugh at their crazy conspiracy theories. We will refute their pseudo-science. And their dangerous lies shouldn’t have a platform on major social media networks. They are literally murdering people. But muzzling? They have their website if they want to attempt to defend the indefensible. I’d fight just as hard to defend his right to speak his lies, on his site, and even on stage at a rally. Maybe Trump will invite him to one of his.

The only people around here trying to muzzle anyone are Kennedy and his lawyers, using the courts to attack a critic.

“They are trying to silence and gaslight their fellow Americans who question government policies,” said Holland. “Criticizing our government is not just a right, it is a duty of citizenship. Kennedy is gagged by the censors while Daily Kos gives his detractors a bullhorn to make false charges, cravenly defame him and then hide themselves behind Section 230.”

I’m right here, Mary Holland and Robert Kennedy. Right here. Not hiding. Right here. Sue me, you cowards.

Sure, you’ll lose and we’ll come after you with an anti-SLAPP lawsuit. But I’m right here.

Not hiding.

“[Kennedy’s Berlin speech] was a powerful message against totalitarianism,” said Holland. “Downeast Dem’s comments were not just abusive and false, they were cowardly. Downeast Dem slandered Mr. Kennedy from the shadows. His hope was to sling his barbs and then flee from public debate. That is the classic cowardice of a bully.”

I repeated those words right here. In the open. Come after me, you cowardly bullies.

Rather than acknowledging the Daily Kos post was fake news, Moulitsas has dug in and is now resorting to pleading with his readers to send cash to fund his crusade to keep Downeast Dem anonymous.

The Daily Kos community has responded wonderfully. I truly do appreciate it. You guys are allowing Daily Kos to fight this wealthy, powerful bully. Their plan was to force compliance by threatening a costly legal battle, exactly the way Donald Trump conducts business and stifles critics (and porn stars). But between you guys and Public Citizen, we have the means to fight back.

And not just fight back—but hopefully create case law in New York that will protect the future free speech rights of pseudonymous and anonymous commenters. That law currently does not exist in New York, so we have to create it from scratch.

“Those fundraising letters have the poisonous, nasty, baiting tone of a schoolyard bully,” said Holland, “and by school, I mean elementary school — they are shockingly childish. It’s almost beyond comprehension that this low-level diatribe is coming from one of the most revered exemplars of the liberal intelligentsia, one of our Democratic Party’s superstars.”

Now they’re writing our own fundraising letters for us!

Ironically, the Daily Kos founder, who has been relentlessly bobbing and weaving to dodge any confrontation with Kennedy, is suddenly challenging Kennedy to engage. His invitation — it can only be described as an unhinged vitriolic diatribe — doubles as a fundraising appeal.

“Dodging and weaving” by secretly moving our office from Oakland to San Francisco, then back to Oakland when it was time to serve the subpoena? Heck, even if they did find the right office, no one would be there. Some of us take this pandemic seriously and are protecting our employees from mass death. Clearly, Kennedy wouldn’t understand.

But I’ve never dodged a confrontation with this asshole. I relish it.

“If Mr. Moulitsas really wants to debate, I doubt that would be a problem. Kennedy has always been willing to debate all comers. I’m quite sure that if Mr. Moulitsas is looking for a civil conversation, all he has to do is ask. Daily Kos presents itself as a serious forum for liberal debate, but the fact is that no one dares to debate Kennedy. Everyone saw the way that he demolished Alan Dershowitz in their debates, and so they all prefer to resort to name calling from a safe distance.”

LOL, a “debate.” Okay. Why don’t you debate your family, Robert, if you want a debate? They’re shaking their head sadly at what you’ve become, noting the obvious—that you are “tragically wrong.” You don’t have to be a tool of “Big Pharma” to see that.

But you’ve made this a legal case, so let’s fight this in a court of law. The victor won’t be decided by rhetorical skills gifted by your life of unearned power, wealth, and privilege, but by a dispassionate judge. And let’s argue the facts.

So bring on the defamation lawsuit (which I am excited to note would include your videotaped deposition). I repeated everything that the supposedly defamatory community story said. It was nothing that wasn’t reported by myriad media outlets, both in the United States and Germany.

Or would you, Robert, rather bully critics from a safe distance through lawyers?

Thing is Robert, I know the truth. This has nothing to do with wanting a “debate.” It has everything to do with doxxing a pseudonymous critic because of your bizarre paranoia about who might be saying things about you.

******

If you want to help fund our legal efforts against this dangerous, murderous, conspiracy theorist, please click here. Also consider a donation to Public Citizen, for having this community’s back. They are a great ally to have in this fight.

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Roberto Walker
He is an associate editor and works at the political desk. He covers a wide range of news from world politics to local politics.
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