RFK Jr. accuses MSNBC host of ‘perpetuating vitriol’ in testy interview

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RFK Jr. accuses MSNBC host of ‘perpetuating vitriol’ in testy interview

MSNBC anchor Ari Melber clashed with independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in an interview on Wednesday, with the host challenging how the candidate has downplayed the “danger” of former President Trump and Kennedy hitting back that Melber is “perpetuating vitriol.

Melber compared Kennedy to the 2000 Green Party candidacy of Ralph Nader, pointing out that some have accused Kennedy of creating a “false equivalency” between President Biden and former President Trump.

“People are concerned not that this is Nader 2.0, but that you are using the platform and the following you have to suggest that they are both catastrophic, and they’re similar,” Melber said during the conversation on “The Beat.” “And that you, they say, are ignoring not only the policy difference, but the actual possible democracy and autocratic threat of Donald Trump if he wins again.”

Kennedy rejected the framing.

“I never said that,” he responded. “Like I said, I think both of them did bad things for our country.”

“Neither of them can end the vitriol that you are trying to prop up right now,” he continued, taking a jab back at Melber.

“You’re running for president, a big job, and I’m asking you-” Melber responded, being cut off. “You just said that I am perpetuating vitriol. I asked you to substantiate that.”

Asked again, Kennedy refused to answer Melber’s question responding to criticism that he has created a false equivalency between the two major candidates. Melber again challenged Kennedy, using the Jan. 6 Capitol riots as an example.

“They stormed the Capitol. They tried to overthrow the certification and the results of a lawful election,” Melber said of Trump’s supporters. “And Donald Trump is out here now saying he has, according to his lawyers, a ‘License to Kill,’ license to coup, he will pardon all those people. And so you seem to be saying discussing that is vitriolic?”

“No, it’s not,” Melber continued. “Having a clear position on the peaceful transfer of power is a very low bar, very low bar.”

Kennedy then dodged over whether he would offer pardons to those prosecuted for crimes related to the riots. His campaign previously labeled those who participated in the riots as “activists,” and Kennedy has repeatedly been vague about the topic in the past.

“I’m going to use the pardon. I don’t know who I’m going to use it on,” Kennedy said. “I’m an attorney. I’m going to look at every case that’s brought forth before me and make a decision on it.”

Melber also challenged Kennedy over the viability of his entire campaign, dubbing him a potential spoiler.

“If you’re not a spoiler, I would say respectfully, you haven’t yet proven it,” Melber told Kennedy, pointing out that the independent is only on the ballot in a few states.

The unorthodox ex-Democrat has attracted a support base from both parties, with an outsider, anti-vaccine campaign platform focused on reforming Washington. Kennedy rejected the “spoiler” label, insisting that he has a real chance at winning in November, while President Biden does not.

“A spoiler is somebody who can not win and whose continued participation in an election disrupts expectations of somebody who can win,” he said. “But under this criteria, President Biden is the spoiler because he cannot win. He can’t win if I stay in. He does worse if I leave.”

Kennedy has about eight percent support in three-way polls with the two major candidates, according to the DDHQ/The Hill average of polls. Both Trump and Biden have attacked Kennedy’s campaign, fearful that he could pull votes from their bases.