RFK Jr. declares NY Times an 'instrument of the Democratic Party' during tense interview with paper

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. had a heated exchange with The New York Times, declaring the paper to be an “instrument of the Democratic Party” after repeatedly labeling him a “spoiler” in the 2024 election.

Appearing on Thursday’s installment of The Times’ “The Run-Up” podcast, the conversation between Kennedy and Times political reporter and host Astead Herndon began civilly, discussing his political family, and grew a bit more contentious when addressing topics like his views on vaccines.

But things escalated quickly when Herndon asked whether Kennedy did any polling that showed him pulling more supporters away from President Biden or former President Trump.


“That was not the purpose of our polling. Our polling we did was to see if I can win,” Kennedy responded. “And the polling indicated that I could win as an independent… My purpose is to win the election.”

“If there was any evidence that you would help one candidate or another win, would that cause you to drop out?” Herndon asked.

“No,” Kennedy firmly responded.

“Do you have any personal fears, even if you believe that you could win the election, you don’t have any personal fears about the possibility of playing a spoiler to either Biden or Trump?” Herndon followed.

“I fear about both of them winning the election,” Kennedy said.

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. clashed with a New York Times reporter who kept referring to him as a “spoiler” in the 2024 race. (Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)

Herndon asserted that Kennedy had “changed” his opinion on various issues like abortion and the border and was comfortable “playing the role of spoiler.”

Kennedy called the reporter’s recap of his record a “disinformation campaign” and “not accurate.”

“I’m not flip-flopping on issues. Now listen, if I learned something, I’m going to change my position. I think we want politicians to do that,” Kennedy said. “Don’t we want politicians who can respond in common sense ways when new information comes in front of them? I think we do.”


The Times reporter went on to say he was “still stuck” on Kennedy not having “thought” about whether he would take more voters away from Biden or Trump, something Kennedy denied.

“I did not say that I have not thought about it,” Kennedy said. “My intent was whether I could win this race. By the way, here’s what the polling is showing… My strongest supporters are independents, other people who don’t want to vote for Trump or Biden. And I beat Trump and Biden among independents. So in that sense, I’m not pulling from either. I’m also beating President Trump, President Biden among people under 35 nationally, people under 45 in battleground states. They’re people who probably would not vote for either Trump or Biden. They’re gonna vote because I’m in the race. People don’t want to choose between the lesser of two evils. They want somebody they can believe in, somebody they have faith in, somebody that they like, and my popularity is greater than any political figure right now according to every poll.”

“That’s not the question I’m asking you though,” Herndon replied.

“You’re asking the question everybody asked me!” Kennedy shot back.

Kennedy argued polls show him besting President Biden and former President Donald Trump among independents and young voters. (Getty Images)

As the pair kept clashing, Kennedy took aim at the Gray Lady after Herndon suggested the candidate was insulated by “privilege” and not seeing how his campaign is a longshot in the two-party system.

“Seventy percent of people in this country do not want a contest between Trump and Biden. Don’t you feel that those people should have an option?” Kennedy argued. “Isn’t that kind of a privileged position that you have, of taking the position that The New York Times is not gonna give those- allow those Americans who don’t want to see a rerun of this contest? Don’t you think they deserve something? Are you gonna sit there and say, ‘Nobody should do that because I’m scared of this guy or I’m scared of that guy?'”


“The reason that we have pressured Democrats about the way that they set up Biden and about Republicans about the way that they set up Trump is because of that very fact, because of the fact that most Americans do not want these two options,” Herndon responded.

“The New York Times… is essentially an instrument of the Democratic Party,” Kennedy snapped.

“I understand you’re making an institutional argument,” Herndon said.

“You’ve been making institutional arguments against me since this started,” Kennedy exclaimed. “You’re an instrument of the DNC… Your job- doing what you’re doing is to try to spin this some way that is gonna help Biden and hurt Trump and get rid of any threat to that narrow guardrail, in the guardrail contest that The New York Times approves of. And that’s just not right for our country, and I’m not gonna go along with it.”

Kennedy declared The New York Times “an instrument of the Democratic Party” during a tense interview with Times reporter Astead Herndon. (Getty Images)

Herndon wrapped up the podcast by doubling down on his “spoiler” assertions, suggesting Kennedy’s campaign was not footed in reality.

“While RFK Jr. says his message is one that calls back to a more populous version of the Democratic Party, that’s not quite what I heard,” Herndon told listeners. “I heard a man completely convinced of his convictions, no matter how unfounded. And I heard a candidate convinced of his own viability, no matter the evidence against it. In other words, the perfect recipe for a spoiler.”

The Times did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital‘s request for comment.

The RealClearPolitics average has Kennedy reaching 15% in national polls in a three-way race against Biden and Trump, with the former president ahead of his 2020 rival by 4 points. A five-way race including independent candidate Cornel West and Green Party candidate Jill Stein has Kennedy’s support at 11%, with Trump having a 2-point advantage over Biden.

Kennedy first launched his campaign as a Democratic challenger to Biden but switched as an independent candidate after repeatedly clashing with the DNC, specifically over its refusal to hold primary debates.

Joseph A. Wulfsohn is a media reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @JosephWulfsohn.

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