RFK Jr. Sues Media Over Censorship Claims

Major News Outlets Facing Antitrust Litigation from Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Group

Several major news outlets are facing litigation from Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s organization, Children’s Health Defense, for alleged violation of federal antitrust laws. According to media law expert Lyrissa Lidsky, media outlets are not exempt from antitrust laws under the First Amendment.

The lawsuit, filed on May 31 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, accuses news organizations of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act by censoring information. The news outlets named in the lawsuit are members of the Trusted News Initiative, a global coalition founded by the BBC in 2019 to combat “fake news.” The Associated Press, The Washington Post, Reuters, and the BBC are among the defendants.

Kennedy’s organization filed a similar lawsuit in January in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. However, after the news outlets petitioned to have the case moved to the U.S. Southern District of New York, Children’s Health Defense dropped the case on May 18. Days later, Kennedy’s group filed a new action in federal court in Louisiana.

Media Collusion and Alleged Censorship

The complaint argues that the defendants, who are competitors, agreed to censor certain content to maintain their economic interests. Children’s Health Defense claims that this amount to an impermissible restraint of commerce.

Jed Rubenfeld, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement that when social media companies collude with the government to censor critics of government policy, that violates the First Amendment.

[blockquote align=”none” author=”Rubenfeld”]When they collude with major mainstream news organizations to censor rival online news publishers, that violates antitrust law.[/blockquote]

See also  Gorsuch & Sotomayor Clash: Gay Weddings Spark Controversy!

The lawsuit alleges that the BBC admitted economic motivation behind founding the Trusted News Initiative. The news organization’s executive declared that it was crucial for trusted news providers to club together and combat unchecked reporting being piped out mainly through digital platforms.

Other co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit include several right-wing or right-leaning entities or individuals: Creative Destruction Media; Trial Site News; Ty and Charlene Bollinger, who founded The Truth About Cancer and The Truth About Vaccines; independent journalist Ben Swann; Erin Elizabeth Finn, the publisher of Health Nut News; Jim Hoft, founder of The Gateway Pundit; Dr. Joseph Mercola; Jeff Crouere, host of Louisiana-based radio and TV show “Ringside Politics;” and Ben Tapper, a chiropractor.

The Trusted News Initiative’s response to the lawsuit

The Trusted News Initiative is a partnership that includes organizations and media outfits from around the globe. It operates by alerting each other to high-risk disinformation to enable content review promptly by platforms. Publishers ensure they do not share dangerous falsehoods unwittingly. Platforms involved with the initiative include Meta, Microsoft, and Twitter.

“No comment” was the response from the press office of the BBC. The Associated Press, Reuters, and the Washington Post’s media relations offices did not respond to inquiries about the story.

According to Children’s Health Defense, people are losing faith in the legacy media and its shortcomings. The media doubled down to protect their economic interests, instead of making changes, through TNI.

The plaintiffs’ legal backing

A former senior lawyer at the U.S. Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, who requested anonymity, noted that the competitors reportedly agreed to some common conduct and took similar action to the detriment of information sources that, in some ways, compete with them. This case requires determining what precisely the competitors agreed to. They have a legitimate interest in combating misinformation, but an agreement that goes further and entails a commitment to censor some content might cross the line into an impermissible restraint of commerce, the lawyer added.

See also  Trump: 24-Hour Plan Ends Russia-Ukraine Conflict!

Kennedy, an anti-vaccine activist and environmental lawyer, announced his candidacy for President in April. He has gained some support challenging President Joe Biden, polling at 20% shortly after his campaign announcement. Although the viability of Kennedy’s lawsuit remains uncertain, the case provides an opportunity to shine light on the questionable conduct of media actors.

Conclusion

The latest lawsuit against the BBC, AP, Reuters, and The Washington Post is the second lawsuit filed against news outlets by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s organization. The lawsuit accuses the defendant of violating antitrust laws by censoring information, disclosing collusion between powerful actors in the media and the government to suppress information. The lawsuit aims to bring attention to the fact that media outlets do not receive First Amendment exemption from antitrust laws.