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At a time when disinformation and narrow-mindedness are at an all-time high, the last thing we need is a purported “reform” candidate who contributes to the mess.

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Although COVID-19 numbers are down in the US, they are soaring in China — and we know well enough from history that as goes China, so may go the rest of the world. Therefore, it’s not a good time to just thank our lucky stars and move on. And that means we still need to achieve consensus on the threat and what to do about it.

Most people believe that the medical and scientific establishment did the best they could with an unanticipated emergency, that they made mistakes but learned along the way.

And most people remember how it was. Not so long ago, hospitals were bursting at the seams with patients deathly ill with COVID-19. As soon as one died, another was brought in. Freezer trucks were parked outside the hospitals, containing piles of bodies with nowhere to go for burial. Victims of other emergencies — car accidents, heart attacks, strokes — were being sent away in ambulances driven by desperate EMT workers who didn’t know where to go next. The public was crying out for a vaccine. 

But not everyone seems to remember why a COVID-19 vaccine became necessary. There’s a small but loud minority who seem to have forgotten.They’re the base for Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential campaign, which drew 20 percent of Democratic voters in a recent CNN poll. He almost certainly can’t win, but he can be a potent factor, and maybe a distraction at an inflection point in what is shaping up as an epic battle for the future of America and the world. 

As noted in previous columns, I find Kennedy a bit slippery in terms of what he says about COVID-19 and vaccines. That seems a glaring deficiency given that Kennedy is ostensibly running to mitigate a lack of forthrightness and honesty among politicians.  

Related: Building Herd Immunity to Truth: More on RFK Jr.’s Anti-Vax Crusade

I’ve also noticed, based on comments from his supporters, that their skepticism about the trustworthiness of the US medical establishment often extends to the US establishment in general — which they accuse of nefarious meddling in almost everything, including the endless tragedy in Ukraine. 

They are infatuated by the notion that Kennedy will “unwind the empire” — as if at this particular point in history, when US power is receding, that is nevertheless more urgent than solving climate change and ensuring that humanity survives. 

Related: Will Anti-Vaxxers Merge With More Violent Groups to Destabilize the US?

They lecture me, they chastise me, they say I have lost my way, or perhaps am a traitor and covert operative for big pharma, and some explicitly grouse that I was never the critical-eyed investigative reporter and resolute truth-seeker they thought I was.

Related: RFK Jr. Fans Defend Him, and Rebuke Me for Challenging His Views

So for my own sanity I’ve had to hit the mute button quite a bit lately. To be totally frank, the more I look into their assertions the more I conclude these folks don’t actually know what they’re talking about. 

I also am increasingly identifying a sort of core gene, an almost reptilian-brain instinct from being in the trenches so long against an admittedly flawed US system and “empire” — a perspective so calcified and lacking in open-mindedness that all situational discernment and fair-mindedness is out the window. 

Related Coming to Grips With the Anti-Vaxxer, pro-RFK Jr. Worldview 

It’s the Left version of a disease sweeping the country. Mindset drives everything. As a result, like Fox and Newsmax viewers, these Bobby Kennedy Jr. acolytes trust a small set of “sources” that they actually know little about.  

As noted, I’ve explored many of Kennedy’s claims on various subjects, and found them to be shoddy or downright incorrect. But his supporters — much like Trump’s — will forgive almost anything, due to some “larger principle.” I’ve actually seen some writing off gross mischaracterizations as, “Well, nobody’s perfect.”

Related: How Robert F. Kennedy Jr., His Presidential Candidacy and Vaccine Views, Help Trump 

Still, they continue to send links, and videos, and articles, dismissing the millions of scientific and healthcare professionals with whom they disagree. But I keep remembering the old saying:  “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” And they don’t present such evidence — not even solid ordinary evidence, let alone extraordinary. Before I put a pin in this topic, I will briefly discuss one final request, which comes from a friend of long standing. 

He sent me a story from Kennedy’s website, Children’s Health (CHD), about five people who say they have been greatly harmed by the COVID-19 vaccine. They are suing President Biden and top US health officials for allegedly colluding with social media companies to censor their comments about it.

Of course, I already knew that vaccines can have side effects. Almost any biologically active substance has or can have side effects, including the most common foods that the vast majority of us eat with no problem, but that can unsettle or even kill others.  

Still, since my friend asked me to seriously reconsider my position and take a closer look. I did. 


Four of the five people cited in Kennedy’s publication are suffering from severe, life-changing symptoms that they say developed soon after they were vaccinated, and so — at least on first glance — the vaccines appear to be responsible. (The fifth was a teenage boy who died.)

Before being vaccinated, four of these victims appear to have been very active, healthy, and even athletic (one is a former triathlete). The one exception was Nikki Holland, a physical therapist in a rural town in Tennessee who, after receiving her COVID-19 vaccine, developed severe breathing and neurological problems (and many other prolonged, life-changing consequences). She had important preexisting conditions that we’ll look at. 

Holland was interviewed in a videotape by Stephanie Locricchio — advocacy and outreach manager for CHD.  

Holland told Locricchio that she was never warned of any significant dangers. She said she was informed, in writing, that she might expect skin irritation, arm soreness, and other superficial reactions. But soon after — she admits (at 4:50 on the tape) she was also warned of developing anaphylaxis (a potentially life-threatening condition). 

Before her COVID-19 vaccination, she said she had to fill out a checklist of preexisting conditions, and bad reactions to previous vaccines. She checked off asthma and, more alarming, anaphylaxis, following a shot of penicillin. 

Because of these issues, she was told to get approval from the medical director or from her primary physician before getting a shot. Her response: “When that happened, I thought OK, and I just discarded it [the checklist]. (07:30 on tape) I never really went to my primary care.” Her interviewer never asked why she made that decision. 

Later the “medical director” cleared the way for all “high risk” individuals to receive the shot. And she said most of her health care providers told her to get the vaccine.

Holland said she was told that her reaction is very rare — but she and Locricchio both asserted that what happened to her is actually a widespread occurrence. And on CHD, the interview was headlined with words that promote this idea:

If We All Come Out … Eventually They Can’t Ignore the Numbers
Nikki Holland, Injured by Moderna Vaccine

And Holland is further quoted: “Nurses would say ‘We see this happen all the time. We see people come in like this’ [Referring to a patient with severe breathing difficulties].” (12:45 on tape). 

Locricchio’s scientific credentials are not what one would expect for someone assigned by Kennedy to lead such an inquiry. She is a former telemarketer, a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, board certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and describes herself as a “mompreneur and mentor” who  “works closely with individuals who are looking to create income from home.”  She was also a speaker at a rally attended by the Proud Boys and others in support of a nurse who lost her job for not enforcing the mask mandate. To see how she defends her views on anti masking, please go here and here.


Another plaintiff in the lawsuit is the father of a 16-year-old boy in Texas who died of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) soon after his second COVID-19 shot. The boy was presumably healthy before, and very athletic. His autopsy showed that his heart was enlarged to twice the normal size. What happened? Few relevant details are available. (I did not examine the cases of the remaining three plaintiffs.)

The boy’s father was told his son’s reaction was rare, and many studies back this up. But if you read Bobby Kennedy’s book, The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health, you will get the opposite impression.

Bobby Kennedy’s Claims on Myocarditis

From his book, Page 210:

These astonishing numbers mean myocarditis is far from a “rare” side effect, as Dr. Fauci and Pfizer like to claim. Nor is it harmless. A recent study suggests that myocarditis is associated with a 50 percent mortality within five years. (Ref #89)

As I noted in a previous article, Kennedy makes two true statements that, when combined, give an entirely false impression. Observe the above paragraph. He makes it look like the “recent study” is about the vaccination’s side effect — when, in fact, it’s about myocarditis caused only by a virus, and not by any vaccine. Reference #89 is entitled Viral Myocarditis, and that’s all it’s about, as you can see for yourself.

NOTE:  If you want to see more of Kennedy’s acrobatics, keep reading. But if you’d rather just read factual information on myocarditis, skip down to “Myocarditis in the Absence of Vaccine.” 

And now, back to Kennedy’s book. From Page 209:

Pfizer’s clinical data predicted potentially fatal myocarditis in one in every 318 teens. Post-marketing data confirm astronomically high rates of myocarditis injuries. … 

According to an article in Current Trends in Cardiology, “Within eight weeks of the public offering of COVID-19 products to the 12–15-year-old age group, we found 19 times the expected number of myocarditis cases in the vaccination volunteers over background myocarditis rates for this age group.” (Reference # 88) (p.209)

So I checked reference #88, clicked on the link to find the source, and this is what I found:

WITHDRAWN: A Report on Myocarditis Adverse Events in the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) in Association with COVID-19 Injectable Biological Products

One of the authors was Peter A. McCullough, MD, a Fox News favorite, who has made so many false claims about vaccines, COVID-19, and ivermectin that his previous employer — Baylor University Medical Center — sued McCullough to prevent him from falsely claiming any current association with them. (He had entered into a confidential separation agreement with them.)

Related: Vaccine Skeptics to March on Washington — With a Dangerous & Confusing Message

Kennedy went on to say:

But even these alarming numbers may underreport myocarditis injuries. Israeli data and US data presented to CDC’s advisory committee on June 23, 2021, similarly found the rate of reported cases of myocarditis in vaccinated teenage boys aged 12–17 is at least twenty-five times greater than expected, and is fifty times greater than the reported rate in vaccinated males over 65. [No reference]

The above may or may not be technically correct, but it seems designed to reinforce the idea that vaccine-induced myocarditis is widespread. I had to find the report on my own, but could not find the statistics he gives — though I did find information that leaves quite a different impression from the one Kennedy seems to be trying to create. From that CDC meeting:  

The first reports of cases of myocarditis following vaccination with mRNA vaccines came from Israel. From December 2020-May of 2021 in Israel, 148 cases of myocarditis occurred around the time of vaccination. Most of these reports, although not all, were in younger men 16-19 years of age. … While most of these cases were hospitalized, 95% were characterized as mild cases. (CDC page 5)  

As you can see from the above specimens, Kennedy would have you believe that the number of  myocarditis cases is “astronomically high.” I decided to take a look at the medical literature to see what “establishment” medicine has to say about it.

The following may not be for everybody, although it is not very technical, nor is it especially deep. It shows how elusive the truth can be — and why it’s just crazy as well as dangerous to employ polemics regarding these issues. 

Myocarditis in the Absence of Vaccine  

In the year 2000, decades before medical personnel began dispensing COVID-19 shots, the New England Journal of Medicine summarized postmortem studies from various countries suggesting that, although myocarditis is usually asymptomatic, it can have severe consequences for some younger people. In adults younger than 40 years of age, 20 percent of those with myocarditis suffered sudden, unexpected death. (The study subjects include young adults, athletes, Air Force recruits, and elite Swedish orienteers.) 

Since this pattern of myocarditis long predates COVID-19 vaccines, that strongly suggests that, in a vaccinated person, the vaccine was not necessarily the cause of a heart problem. 

Indeed, rather than the vaccine, it is important to look at COVID-19 itself — which can cause myocarditis as well as other significant heart problems. Go here, here, and here to see a few reports on this complication.

No Causal Relationship Proven — But Strongly Suggested

Nonetheless, various studies do provide circumstantial evidence of vaccine-induced reactions. Let’s look at those now. 

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a retrospective study in October 2021 of myocarditis cases within the US Military Health System that had occurred between January 1 and April 30, 2021. 

Would this large study answer the question as to how often vaccines cause the disease?  

Out of 2.8 million doses administered, just 23 patients, all male, reacted adversely, and all had recovered at the time of the report. However, rather than participating in some kind of cover-up, which is what Kennedy and his followers allege both generally and specifically, the authors of the report went out of their way to make it clear that there could have been more cases, possibly many more, that were never reported. Not everyone who experiences symptoms goes to a doctor.

That is what scientists do. They ask questions. They play devil’s advocate with themselves. Above all, they report inconvenient facts that challenge their conclusions. It is the opposite of the determination exhibited by Kennedy and his legions to be right. 

Studies From the Israeli Ministry of Health

In Israel, the authorities conducted extensive research and found that myocarditis following a COVID-19 shot was extremely rare: Around the time of the first dose, there were 27 cases of myocarditis, out of a total of 5,401,150 vaccinated, 11 of whom had preexisting conditions.  Around the time of the second dose (within 30 days) — 121 cases out of a total of 5,049,424, 60 of whom had preexisting conditions. Their conclusion: “So far, this phenomenon was mostly reported among younger men aged 16-19, usually after the second dose. Most cases have been in the hospital for up to 4 days, and 95 percent are considered to be mild cases.”

But another Israeli study differed: The authors found the risk to be higher. However, this study is apparently controversial and was accompanied by an editor’s note: “Readers are alerted that the conclusions of this article are subject to criticisms that are being considered by the Editors. A further editorial response will follow once all parties have been given an opportunity to respond in full.” (I could find nothing more about it.) 

Because of the disparity between the two studies, it is reasonable to conclude more research is needed, but one conclusion seems justified: The number of cases is relatively low.

This is important because the overall conclusion dramatically counters Kennedy’s statement that the number of myocarditis cases is “astronomically high.” 

At a time when disinformation and narrow-mindedness are at an all-time high, the last thing we need is a purported “reform” candidate who contributes to the mess. Let’s focus on finding responsible leadership — willing to do the unglamorous hard work of thoughtfully taking in a broad range of information and making rational choices that benefit us all. 

NOTE: This week RFK Jr. excitedly tweeted that Fox News had made a documentary about him, and Elon Musk has offered him a one-on-one discussion on Twitter. The Republicans cannot wait to inflict him on Biden. Those who care neither about the accuracy of his COVID-19 claims nor about the consequences of his candidacy as a lobbed grenade in a moment of great peril must bear some personal responsibility for where this all could go. As someone just wrote to me on Twitter, “I wonder when critical thinking died in this country.”

*In an earlier version of this story, I said Stephanie Locricchio spoke at a Proud Boys rally, but I had been misinformed. However she did speak at the same rally they attended. 


  • Russ Baker

    Russ Baker is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in exploring power dynamics behind major events.

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