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May 26, 2024

Star-Studded Fundraiser for RFK Jr. Implodes Amid Backlash

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Jan 6, 2024

A star-studded birthday fundraiser planned for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has turned into a public relations debacle, with several big-name celebrities denying their involvement amidst backlash over Kennedy’s anti-vaccine activism.

Celebrities Walk Back Plans to Attend Fundraiser

The fundraiser, planned for Kennedy’s 70th birthday on January 17th, was billed as featuring performances by Andrea Bocelli and Dionne Warwick, as well as appearances from Martin Sheen, Mike Tyson, and other A-list guests. However, all three musicians have since publicly denied their participation:

  • Andrea Bocelli stated unambiguously that he was never involved with the event and would not be attending.
  • Dionne Warwick called reports of her attendance “absolutely ridiculous” and her manager confirmed she “is not now and has never been set to perform or attend this event.”
  • Martin Sheen enlisted help from a former West Wing staffer to issue a statement not only denying his participation, but endorsing President Biden’s re-election campaign.

Other celebrities like Mike Tyson have also apparently backed out. Kennedy spokesperson Kari Baxter Dunn admitted there had been “some confusion with the performers,” but maintained the event would still go on as planned.

Backlash Over Kennedy’s Anti-Vaccine Activism

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has become one of the most prominent figures in the anti-vaccine movement, using his family name to lend credence to discredited claims linking vaccines to autism and other health issues. He heads an organization called Children’s Health Defense that regularly propagates vaccine misinformation.

This association apparently gave pause to the musical acts who had been linked to Kennedy’s planned birthday bash. Andrea Bocelli faced online backlash from fans prior to his disavowal. Dionne Warwick was compelled to speak out after merely being mentioned as an attendee.

The blowback highlights the controversial nature of Kennedy’s advocacy and the potential public relations damage that celebrities could face by openly supporting him.

Is Kennedy Gearing Up a Presidential Run?

While ostensibly a birthday celebration and fundraiser, speculation has swirled that Kennedy may use the event to launch a 2024 presidential bid. He attempted to quash that speculation, stating he has “no plans to run for any elected office,” but some aren’t convinced.

The extravagant, celebrity-studded nature of the gala certainly feels more like a candidate ramping up than a closed-door policy fundraiser. AndRKF Jr. has done little himself to tamp down the chatter. Just this week, his spokesperson refused to rule out him jumping into the race down the line.

It remains to be seen whether Kennedy was genuinely caught off guard by the premature presidential buzz or if this is part of a longer-term strategy. But either way, the back-and-forth over the event guest list has thrust his political ambitions – whatever they may be – into the national spotlight.

What’s Next for RFK Jr. and the Anti-Vaccine Movement

While Kennedy has endured a rocky week, he shows no signs of backing down from his anti-vaccine crusade. His organization recently announced they had raised over $6.4 million in 2023, which they will surely deploy to further spread misinformation in the year ahead.

This funding comes amidst growing measles outbreaks tied to declining childhood vaccination rates – a troubling trend Kennedy bears some responsibility for. As politicians and public health officials scramble to counter this alarming development, they’ll surely have to grapple with the ongoing influence Kennedy holds over parts of the anti-vax community.

The recent controversy also illustrates the scrutiny Kennedy faces from mainstream journalists, doctors, scientists and others committed to puncturing the patina of credibility surrounding him. Much to his likely frustration, his family pedigree does not provide the Teflon shield from criticism it once might have.

While RFK Jr.’s plans, political or otherwise, remain nebulous, his presence as leader of and chief fundraiser for the anti-vaccine movement is clear. For those committed to public health and scientific integrity, the battle lines are drawn for 2024.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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