A Very Weird Interview With Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
"I don't think the vaccines have anything to do with eradicating the Jews."
There are many criticisms to lob at Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and, as a result of the COVID pandemic, one of the most powerful and adored physicians in America. He has inspired a slew of merchandise, an Emmy-nominated impersonation from Brad Pitt, and the naming of dogs across America. While his calm demeanor has been considered a balm by some, not everyone likes Dr. Fauci — in part because the 2020 pandemic response he helped helm has widely been considered a disaster.
One person who especially doesn’t is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose new book The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health, has hovered on Amazon’s bestseller list for the past three weeks. Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy and a former environmental lawyer-turned-vocal anti-vaxxer, tasks himself with revealing the true scope of Fauci’s intentions and control, or at least how they diverge from the doctor’s rosy reputation. Kennedy argues that Fauci serves as a figurehead for an elite cadre of wealthy insiders, dark money, and corporate interests skewing the public presentation of pharmaceutical science. (The irony of this coming from a Kennedy seems to be lost on him.)
He is most concerned with the presentation of science related to vaccines, which he thinks may cause autism (they don’t). Kennedy has spent a decade lobbying and awareness-raising around that issue. For the last five of those years, he has served as the founder and chairman of Children’s Health Defense, a nonprofit that describes itself as an advocate for “chronic childhood disease,” but which basically everyone else calls an anti-vaccine group — arguably the most prominent of its kind.
In any case, despite the author’s last name, non-profit, and relative success on Amazon, he hasn’t gotten much press coverage, which is probably why his publicist offered an interview to this re-booted celebrity gossip blog that mostly makes fun of Chrissy Teigen (in fairness, she thought we were Bustle). What follows is an edited transcript of my interview with him.
Great, can you hear me? Cool, let's start at the beginning. You talk about in the introduction to the book that you have met Fauci and that you have a long history with him. Can you tell me about that — when you became familiar with him and when you met?
Well, I've known about him as far back as I can remember, because my family has these deep entanglements with the public health agencies, going back generations. You know, my uncle [Sen. Ted Kennedy] was the chair of the Senate Health Committee for several years and essentially defended Fauci's budget year to year.
I crossed paths with him. My uncle, President Kennedy, wrote a lot of the enabling statutes at [the National Institutes of Health] and funded it at NIH and really made it a priority. My sister [Kathleen Kennedy Townsend] was lieutenant governor of Maryland, which is where NIH is. So I've been conscious of Fauci for most of my life. I have many other relatives who are closely associated with him. The [Eunice] Kennedy Shriver Institute [of Child Health and Human Development] is funded in part by [the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease] and John Hopkins.
Ed. Note: According to the NICHD budget, most of their funding comes from the NIH.
I've had my own family entanglements with public health bureaucracies. I met him in 2016, at a time when we had essentially a congenial but confrontational meeting about vaccine safety. And the Trump White House had ordered him and [former NIH Director] Francis Collins and a couple of the other leaders to meet with us in front of [Assistant to President Trump for Intragovernmental and Technology Initiatives] Reed Cordish. We had a meeting and asked him to show us reports. I have been saying for many years that publicly that none of the 72 mandated vaccine doses have ever been subject to pre-clinical, placebo-controlled trials.
Ed. note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends, but does not mandate, regular immunization against 16 diseases from birth through age 18. On the state level, many of these vaccines are required for school enrollment from kindergarten through 12th grade, though there are exemptions for religious, medical, and other reasons.
So there was no safety data on them, on any of the vaccines.
Ed. Note: In a response to Kennedy’s meeting request, then-NIH Director Collins wrote: “There is overwhelming scientific evidence that supports the safety and exceptional value of vaccinations.”
And he and his agency had publicly said that was not true. At the meeting, we asked them to produce the studies that existed. He said he couldn't in the moment but he would send them to us, but he never did. And in the end, we sued him in 2018, and after a year and a half of litigation, they came back around and said, “Yeah, there are none.”
Ed. Note: In 2018, Kennedy filed three lawsuits against federal health agencies — including the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration — in conjunction with the anti-vaccination group, Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN). The lawsuit referenced here was against the NIH, over a record request for a very particular kind of report required in the fine print of the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. Specifically, the law established a task force within the NIH to assist the HHS with further developing childhood vaccines. Part of the task force’s duties included “prepar[ing] recommendations” for the Secretary to aid the implementation of a specific subsection. Kennedy requested records of those recommendations from 2009 until 2018. The case was later dismissed after the NIH told the court they had not identified any records of recommendations from that time.
What made you want to center this book on him?
He's been the face of the pandemic management and the mismanagement of the pandemic. He's been the decision maker, right? He's let us down this road in which we're told that COVID is untreatable, which is not true, and that the only solution is the vaccine. I've said from the beginning that you need to be very careful with those technologies…And you're not going to be able to do safety studies that are adequate, which is now proven to be true with this vaccine.
As you know, according to [the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System], there’s been more death reports than all the vaccines combined since record keeping began. Billions and billions of vaccines.
Ed. Note: This claim — largely circulated on right-wing conspiracy sites, like this anonymous article on “en-volve.com” — is misleading. The VAERS database, established in 1990 and monitored by the FDA and CDC, requires healthcare providers to report all deaths after vaccination, even if there’s no evidence the two were related. An Oct. 21 fact-check in Reuters reported that VAERS had received 8,164 unvetted reports of COVID-vaccinated patient deaths.
So I read the entirety of the PDF that I was sent, but I got the sense that it was not the entire book — partly it’s that the file is titled “Introduction and Chapter One.” But that anecdote, for example, does not appear in the text that I have, which is about 120 pages long.
The book is 500 pages. Okay, so you didn't read the book.
I read what was sent to me, but I have not been given the entire text.
All right. I'm happy. If you want to reschedule this, I'm happy to send you the book. I can messenger it over to you. Where are you?
I'm in Connecticut at the moment.
I can messenger it to you.
Well, let's have a conversation based on this first section. So with this introductory chapter — where Fauci is sort of a background figure, not as central as I imagine he might be in later parts — his financial situation and potential conflicts of interest figure somewhat prominently. I'd love to spend a little time breaking that down. You mentioned that he has this annual salary of around $420,000 a year. In reporting the book, did you uncover other revenue streams that he took home over the past year?
Yeah. His salary is $434,000. He also has other avenues.. Within his agency — by their own rules, which are not regulations, they're just adopted guidance, with no public oversight — each individual in the agency is allowed to keep $150,000 a year in royalties for every product they work on.
Ed. Note: This is a regulation; the legal maximum is set in the U.S. code in Section 3710c (a)(3). NIH researchers are also required to disclose financial conflicts from inventions developed with the government.
We only know of one patent that Fauci owns, which is for an HIV drug.
Ed. Note: Fauci is listed as the “inventor” on several patents. A spokesperson for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office could not confirm how many directly pay him royalties.
And he was actually called to task because, at the time that he took that patent right, there was no limit on how much he can make. So nobody knows how much he's making on it.
Ed. Note: Kennedy is referring here to an Associated Press investigation from 2004, which found Fauci and his partner on the patent had each received $45,072.82 in royalties since 1997. Fauci said at the time he had donated the proceeds to charity. While the limit was in place at the time, the NIH had failed to enforce financial disclosures. They began enforcing the policy after the investigation.
The actual rule that put the cap on it was imposed in 2004 by HHS in response to a Congressional investigation into his patent policies.
Ed. Note: This cap on royalty payments was actually adopted in 1986 through the Federal Technology Transfer Act. The Congressional involvement in 2004 concerned consultation fees researchers took from drug and biotech companies and was in direct response to a Los Angeles Times exposé on those payments, which mentioned multiple NIH scientists, but not Fauci.
So we don't know whether he's continued to take patents; he's been very cagey about it. And nobody, of course, ever asked him about it because the press is so obsequious. They never ask him any difficult questions.
As I show in the book, his reward for these machinations is the control of biomedical research globally, which makes him the most powerful medical figure in history. Because he can not only determine what gets studied and the outcome of those studies, but also he has the ability to stop studies that he doesn't want from occurring. And that's the reason primarily because of him that we have no studies on whether any of the vaccines that are given during the first months of life are causing the autism epidemic.
Ed. Note: This claim has been debunked many times.
And the problem is that these studies are easy to do. We have the databases, you know, the HMOs have all the vaccine records down the batch and they have all the medical claims. So you can easily do a cluster analysis and make those determinations. But Fauci blocks those kinds of studies being done.
One of the through lines, at least in this first section, is Fauci's relationship with [the antiviral medication] Remdesivir. Obviously, there were a lot of conspiracy theories during the pandemic that Fauci was making money off Remdesivir and as was Bill Gates, which you lightly suggest. Can you unpack the connections between Fauci and the clinical trials of Remdesivir? Financially.
Well, I outline those in that chapter.
Yes, absolutely. Can you explain the ties?
I don't know what else to tell you. And you know, I outline Gates's interest in Gilead [Sciences, the pharmaceutical company that makes Remdesivir].
Right, I wanted to ask you about that as well. You say that the foundation had a $6.5 million-dollar stake in Gilead, but I couldn't figure out where you got that number. I was looking at your endnotes and there are two footnotes related to that figure. One of them links to Gilead’s 10-K, which references a grant that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave out in 2002 for a study on HIV treatment. This drug is called Viread. But that was a three-year grant, so it expired in 2005. But that's where the $6.5 million number comes from —
The $6.5 million figure. What is the statement that is referenced that you need support for?
You say that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a $6.5 million stake in Gilead.
So you know, yeah, I will get back to you because I cannot answer that question here. I mean, there's 2,200 footnotes in that book and, you know, if there is one of them, I thought, I need to check on that.
I ask because Gates funding is a recurring theme in here. Do you think it's important for all of these institutions to disclose exactly where they're getting their funding from?
Where does Children's Health Defense get most of its funding?
We got probably most — I mean, we got funding from independent funders, from people whose children have been injured by medications, from people who want medical freedom. You don't get any money from pharma at all. We don't get money from people who are making money on pharmaceutical products.
Right. I was looking at your guys' 990 from 2019, and there was about $3 million in contributions, but the list of contributors was restricted. Do you know roughly who they are?
I wouldn't be able to tell you. But because of the capacity, of the willingness of the press to censor any kind of dissent toward the government and official narratives and the pharmaceutical paradigm, it's hazardous a lot of times for people who give to our organization, which is a very hard line defender of children's health, to expose themselves that that kind of vitriol and punishment. I know that there are some of our funders — you'd have to ask [Children’s Health Defense Executive Director] Laura Bono who those people are, because I wouldn't be able to tell you. But I can tell you that the press applies very, very serious scrutiny to everything we do and virtually no scrutiny to what the pharmaceutical industry does. And we don't make money. I mean, people ask me if I am making money. This has been a money-losing enterprise for me. I've lost probably 80 percent of my income.
Really? Like how much?
Well, I was doing 60 paid speeches a year, for 30 years, roughly on average. Now, I get none. And those were high-paid speeches.
How much does a speech cost?
Oh, generally a minimum for me was about $25,000. And they all disappeared, and there's many business deals and my salary sources have also disappeared. I lost 80 percent of my income. Nobody's making money on this and particularly not me.
I mean, your compensation on the 990 is $255,000. Seems like a lot.
Well, you know, when I was running Riverkeeper, I was making $400,000. Waterkeeper also — I was making $400,000. And our salaries are commensurate — if you look at our rating under Charity Navigator, we have, I think, a hundred-point rating. Ours are exactly in line or below the industry standard. Typically, anyone who runs an organization like this would receive a salary of that size. I know relatives who run RFK Memorial Fund, who run Special Olympics, who run United Way. I have first cousins at all of those places, and I can tell you I know my salary is commensurate with all of theirs. We do a search of what organizations of our size — you can look up what organizations of our size typically pay — and my salary definitely is not a high salary in that regard. It's not out of line. It's pretty typical.
So what you're doing, in other words, you're doing yet another exposé by the mainstream press of us rather than an exposé of the pharmaceutical industry. What's your name again?
My name is Tarpley.
Well, Tarpley, what you're doing now is an exposé of Children's Health Defense and our mission rather than the pharmaceutical industry. That's what you're doing.
Oh, I'm not doing an exposé. I'm just doing an interview.
So what did your editor tell you? Did your editor tell you to look into the financing of Children's Health Defense?
My editor didn't tell me anything. I'm just interested in —
When you review a book, is that what you do? You look into the finances of the author.
I often do, actually. We have a series of interviews about asking people about how much money they have. So yeah, but you mentioned that you used to give 60 speeches a year. How many do you give now?
I give none.
You give none.
No paid speeches.
And was that, do you think, a direct result of working with Children's Health Defense?
That was a direct result.
I only have a couple more questions on Children's Health Defense. But I did notice, while I was looking at your 990s, that your contributions this year — almost $3 million — are about twice as much as you got last year and about 17 times as much as you got in 2016. There's clearly this uptick in contributions. I wondered what you attribute that to.
I think more people are scared. Because of all the coercive policies, censorship and the mandates, the lack of science, the abolition of due process. The abolition of freedom of speech and religion. The abolition of jury trials. The Bill of Rights being demolished in a single year. I think Americans are concerned about that. There's no pandemic exception in the United States Constitution.
One more thing about Children's Health Defense that I wanted to ask about was the PPP loan [CHD was granted a $145,399 loan from the PPP program in May of 2020; it was later forgiven]. In the book, you're pretty critical of lockdowns. I wondered how you felt about applying for a loan from a fund that was set up explicitly in tandem with the pandemic quarantine recommendations.
We're entitled to the money like any other employer, like any other 501(c)(3). Do I like what's happening in this country? No.
Right. It was earmarked for payroll. What did you use the loan for?
Was that in reaction to — did the organization suffer as a result of the pandemic?
Well, you could ask Children's Health. You could ask Laura Bono or our financial controller about that.
Gotcha. Are you a Pfizer or Moderna guy?
I wouldn't disclose my medical records to you or anybody.
In the book, you talk about how you once took hydroxychloroquine for malaria. Have you taken it since?
Yes. You know, this interview is about my book and not about my medical history, and I think for reporters to be asking anybody about their medical history is not where our country ought to be going.
Right, I mean —
It's shaming because whether they choose to have a medical procedure, emergency use authorized medical procedure or not, you just don't. I have no embarrassment. I have nothing to hide and everybody around me knows what my vaccine choices are. But as a matter of principle, I wouldn't talk about it to a reporter, because I think reporters ought to be ashamed of themselves for asking those questions.
I mean, you spend extremely long portions of this initial section talking about the safety and usefulness of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. So it seems material.
What I talk about is the science, which anybody can look up.
And about the science — a lot of the doctors that you quote in this book are controversial, I'll say.
Anybody who challenged the official narrative becomes controversial.
But Peter McCullough, for example, you introduced as a former internist at Baylor School of Medicine — the school filed for a restraining order against him.
Well, you'd have to ask him about [it]. He's a frontline doctor, unlike Dr. Fauci. And the ad hominem attacks on him and every other doctor are part of a strategy that you as a journalist should be ashamed of participating in, which is a pharmaceutical strategy to silence people who are dissenting about the safety of a pharmaceutical product. Why aren't you listening to them and looking at the science, not attacking courageous men and women who are trying to heal people?
You have a section in this first chunk —
By the way do you consider yourself a journalist or just a pharmaceutical rep? Because that's what you sound like. You don't sound like a journalist. You sound like you're an apologist for the pharmaceutical industry, and for the government agencies that are aligned with them.
Yeah I put that on my business cards. So you have a section in the book called "Final Solution: Vaccines or Bust."
You have a section — a sub header — in the book called "Final Solution: Vaccines or Bust."
That's a pretty pointed choice of words. Did you mean to invoke the Holocaust?
It says what it says.
Can you elaborate?
It says what it says.
Right, but that's a very potent phrase, “final solution,” in that it was used to mean eradicating the Jews.
I don't think the vaccines have anything to do with eradicating the Jews.
So, you talked about your family earlier and obviously some members of your family have written publicly that they disagree with some of your stances on vaccines. I was just wondering what you thought about that.
My family members are not experts on vaccines.
And what is your expertise?
My expertise is that I've been studying vaccines for 18 years. I've written two major books, including a runaway bestseller on vaccines [Thimerosal: Let The Science Speak (2015); Vaccine Villains: What the American Public Should Know About the Industry (2016)]. I've written hundreds and hundreds of articles about vaccines. I've litigated, in fact, on vaccines. So, I know a lot about vaccines and you know, my family is entitled to their opinions, but the opinions are not based upon a broad knowledge of the science that I have.
Okay, well, thank you so much. I am interested in having more of a more in-depth conversation, when I get the rest of the book.
Are you telling me, because you acted at the beginning of this conversation, as if you really thought that that one chapter was the entire book. Is that what you're trying to convince me of?
I'm not trying to convince you of anything.
So was that a lie? Or did you know that the book was longer than that?
What I said was I read what I was sent, but it seems like this is not —
You said you thought it might be the whole book.
No, I said —
So you're changing your story now.
I said I thought it was not the full book.
It's pretty easy to figure out that that was not the whole book. All you have to do is look on Amazon, the book is 480 pages. It says that right in the front.
Mr. Kennedy, do not get me wrong, I absolutely knew this was not the full book. I was confused why it had been sent to me as if it was.
I'm glad we're straight about that now. I'm glad you've come clean about that. Look back at the tape.
Oh, I will. I was just being polite, I understood that it was not the full book, but I did not want to blame your assistant for only sending me part of the book.
Yeah. How old are you, Tarleton?
Okay. I hope you do something good with your life.
Well, thank you so much.
An editorial note in this piece has been updated to clarify information about the VAERS database. A previous version inaccurately contrasted the number of adverse reaction reports following Covid vaccination to those following the H1N1 vaccine. The latter had drawn the highest number of reports until the Covid vaccine rollout.