Scientist pressured by Musk and Rogan to debate RFK Jr over anti-vaccine misinformation says he won’t be part of ‘Jerry Springer’ show

Dr Peter Hotez says he refuses to bow to vicious harassment campaign to provide a platform for ‘whack-a-doodle’ vaccine conspiracists

Bevan Hurley
Monday 19 June 2023 17:36 BST
Scientist says he won’t debate anti-vaxxers with RFK Jr for ‘Jerry Springer show’

A scientist who was hounded by Elon Musk and Joe Rogan to debate anti-vaxx presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy says he refuses to take part in a Jerry Springer-style charade.

Dr Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan he had been the target of an “overwhelming” harassment campaign since the “tres hombres” ganged up to pressure him into a live debate over the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines.

Dr Hotez said the attacks from the anti-vaccine lobby included physical stalking and “incessant threatening emails”.

“The stuff online is just total whack-a-doodle. And let’s face it, when you have RFK Jr and Joe Rogan, and Elon Musk, all tag-teaming, those tres hombres at the same time,” he told MSNBC.

“That probably includes just about every follower on Twitter. So, it’s pretty overwhelming.”

Dr Hotez appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience in April 2020 to discuss Covid-19, and said he was prepared to do another one-on-one interview.

“I’ve offered to come and talk to Joe Rogan again, and have that discussion with him, but not to turn it into the Jerry Springer with having RFK Jr on,” he told MSNBC.

“In science, we don’t typically do debates. What we do is we write scientific papers … one doesn’t typically debate science.”

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