Daniel Summers: Donald Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. just made pediatricians’ jobs a lot harder


Mike Schilling

Mike has been a software engineer far longer than he would like to admit. He has strong opinions on baseball, software, science fiction, comedy, contract bridge, and European history, any of which he's willing to share with almost no prompting whatsoever.

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24 Responses

  1. Avatar Aaron David says:

    Seriously, someone needs to take all the Clinton’s, the Bush’s and especially the Kennedy’s completely off the table for any policy, political or public position. Enough with this already.Report

  2. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    Apparently the only person who actually confirmed this was RFK Jr himself:

    “So without verification from the Trump transition team, The New York Times posted an ominous article about how anti-vaccine nuts will soon be taking over the West Wing. And they took the word of the one Kennedy people actually run away from…

    Had any of the news outlets waited just a few hours, here’s what the Trump transition team said about the RFK Jr. meeting: “The President-elect enjoyed his discussion with Robert Kennedy Jr. on a range of issues and appreciates his thoughts and ideas. The President-elect is exploring the possibility of forming a commission on Autism, which affects so many families; however no decisions have been made at this time. The President-elect looks forward to continuing the discussion about all aspects of Autism with many groups and individuals.”

    But hey, we go the hot take, so that’s something…right?Report

    • Avatar Gaelen says:

      The various media outlets that wrote stories on this should have called Trump to confirm first.

      But, even if Trump’s later statement is exactly what they would have said before the brouhaha (which it probably isn’t), it’s still very troubling to be bring in RFK jr. to discuss (let alone lead) a commission on autism.Report

      • The Federalist article MikeD links to makes the same point about RFK Jr. being toxic. It also speculates:

        Now, to be fair, there is a perfectly good chance Trump floated the idea to Kennedy and, once the Trump team saw the huge backlash on social media, walked it back.

        Which is a bit more plausible than Kennedy either lying or being delusional.Report

        • Avatar Gaelen says:

          Yeah, I saw that. Which makes the most plausible explanation for the delay in the Trump camps response coming up with some believable spin.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

          So, Trump has policy idea, manipulates a wacko into shooting his mouth off about it to gauge public opinion, then walks it back…

          Actually sounds kind of like a good idea to me.Report

          • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

            Leaked trial balloons are a pretty standard operating procedure in Washington.

            I get the impression that a lot of these issues aren’t even high on his priority list / agenda. He’s just pushing at various limits to see what he can and can’t get away with. Also pretty standard operating procedure.Report

          • Avatar Gaelen says:

            I wouldn’t even say manipulates a wacko. It seems more likely that he was talking to RFK on something they both agree on and Trump flatters/charms/over-promises like the business man he is without thinking through how the public will view it.Report

          • The policy idea is to increase the incidence of preventable diseases among children. But other than that, sure.Report

  3. I’m glad to hear that this is more a scare than a real problem (yet). Trump himself has tweeted “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!”. I suppose it’ll take us all time to learn to disregard 99% of what he says.

    Anyway, I thought Doc did a nice job of explaining why this kind of thing is pernicious.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

      This is also a good lesson in verifying stories before we post.Report

      • Avatar switters says:

        I haven’t been able to read all the initial reports, but I have definitely read some where the headline was admittedly a little to click-baity for my taste, but where the article itself included the facts that this is based on what kennedy said, and that the transition team had not responded to requests for comment. In other words, here is a quote from someone. Which right or wrong, seems to be SOP these days. With respect to those articles, do you still have a problem?

        Its kind of similar to the heat that buzzfeed is taking. As long as buzzfeed included with their publication of the dossier the fact that the underlying accusations had not been confirmed, I am not sure i have a real problem with them saying, this is the report that is the basis for the appendix to the Daily Intel Brief Trump and Obama received last week. This becomes even more true if i consider the current state of journalism (where relatively, this seems to me a pretty minor transgression) or the fact that Trump is the king of “Im not saying that, Im just saying what other people are saying.”Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


          When I saw this post I Googled ‘Robert F Kennedy Jr’ and the article I linked to above was in the first three hits with a headline that read, “No, Anti-Vaxxer Robert Kennedy Jr. Won’t Be Trump’s ‘Vaccine Czar”. So, basically 20 seconds of web search, 2 minutes worth of reading, and it now is clear that Kennedy made the statement on his own. Could it be true? Maybe. But instead of waiting to find out, this was rushed because everyone wants to find dirt on Trump.

          If we don’t have the luxury of taking 3 minutes to check our facts anymore because smearing Trump is the #1 priority, then seriously, I’m ready for the American Experiment to come to a close and we can just drift into the dystopia that everyone is imagining this week.Report

          • Avatar switters says:

            But the article you linked wasn’t out when the initial story broke. So if the NYT reporter you are lambasting would have done a search on google, nothing would have come up, because nothing had been reported yet. Because the transition team hadn’t responded to requests for comment, and the only solid information was Kennedy’s quote. The transition team responded later that night. And while they did clarify their position, they didn’t claim Kennedy had misspoke.

            And after this, your ready for the america experiment to come to an end. Do you remember all the reports of Obama’s birth certificate. Was there ever any facts to lend credence to those reports. And how long did it take for that to be resolved? And THAT didn’t make you want to end the american experiment, but this does? Really?

            I mean I could provide example after example of this. And when it finally happens to Donald “Im not saying that, im just noticing other people saying that”, that’s when its just too much?Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


              The birth certificate thing was equally dumb. I’m just getting very close to final straw territory with the news cycle, the rush of both sides to publish half-ass stories that will make the President (or President-elect) look bad. But we live in the Twitterverse now so I’m not shocked it happens. I just wish it wasn’t happening more frequently on this site.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Given Donald Trump has tweeted about the link between vaccines and autism (he’s very suspicious about all those vaccines), clearly it’s just as reasonable Obama is a Kenyan as Kennedy teaming up with Trump for a board on autism and vaccines.

                Yes, equally as dumb. On the one hand, you have Birthers. On the other, you have a man who claimed autism and vaccines are related claiming he’s going to work with a man who thinks autism and vaccines might be related.

                Both strain at the fabric of the body politic, both so clearly unbelievable that only the most credulous or partisan could fall for them!

                Indeed, Both Sides Do It. If they didn’t, one might be forced to change teams.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                No no no… the birth certificate stuff was much, much dumber.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 says:

              Clearly you don’t have the luxury of a time machine, but our media should or else they’re failing at their jobs!

              How dare they believe Kennedy was telling the truth about an offer from a man who has, at minimum, claimed that link should be investigated and is prone to impulsive offers?

              It’s the same as birtherism! It’s all the same! If it’s not the same, then people might have to stop being single issue voters!

              The only difference must be in the one or two issues I really care about! Otherwise I might be forced to make tough choices!Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            “If we don’t have the luxury of taking 3 minutes to check our facts…”

            You’re right. Now, let’s convince Trump of that!Report

            • I guess that as someone who has posted things without verifying or thinking through the facts, I have a little more sympathy for the Good Doctor than Mike Dwyer does.

              But Mike isn’t wrong to point out (what appears to be) the fact that Mr. Trump is making no such commission. Mike is a little too quick on the draw in this case, but some of the accusations here that implicitly suggest he’s okay with birtherism seem to go overboard. Yes, birtherism is in my opinion worse, but one of the practices that enabled birtherism is the “he said, but he said” type of reporting. As someone here said, the final straw is rarely the worst.

              (As an aside, I think the oft-expressed criticism of the “he said, but he said” journalism is exaggerated and not as self-evident as journalism’s detractors think it is….or it just seems like a lot of posturing. But that’s an ill-formed thought and probably better served for another discussion.)Report

              • Avatar Hoosegow Flask says:

                Gabriel Conroy: the fact that Mr. Trump is making no such commission

                Neither Trump nor his team have said there will be not be a commission. Just that a final (public) decision hasn’t been made. I’d argue that the headline of the article Mike linked was click-baity in the opposite direction. There could still very well be a commission and Trump may have very well already told RFK that he would head it.Report

              • Quite possibly true, which (along with my being too lazy to google more information) is why I preceded that statement with “(what appears to be).”

                Not that my hedge gives me a pass for saying something lazy.Report

  4. Avatar Will H. says:

    The interesting part of the story is how persistently distrustful of government institutions many have become. It’s not fringe, but fashion.
    Until the issue of a government undeserving of citizens’ trust is solved, the same dynamic will repeat indefinitely.Report