Jason Cote has a simple mission at Manchester Public TV. “Proudly bringing MANCHESTER to your television: open government, free expression, education, arts, activities,” as it says on the station’s website.
For Cote, the station’s executive director, achieving that goal often involves broadcasting political speeches from the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. For example, MPTS shared New Hampshire Journal’s GOP candidate debates with viewers last year.
But when the station tried to post its video of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr’s NHIOP speech on its YouTube channel, something happened Cote had never experienced before.
“YouTube will not allow us to post the video because of controversial vaccination content,” Cote told NHJournal. “MPTS has recorded more than 100 wonderful NHIOP events, and I cannot recall this happening before.
“First time for everything, I guess,” he added.
According to a message from YouTube sent to Cote, the media platform declared RFK, Jr.’s speech “medical misinformation” and would not allow it to be posted.
“YouTube doesn’t allow content that poses a serious risk of egregious harm by spreading medical misinformation about currently administered vaccines that are approved and confirmed to be safe and effective by local health authorities and by the World Health Organization,” the YouTube message read.
A spokesperson for YouTube responded to NHJournal’s requests with assurances a statement would be forthcoming, but it failed to respond by late Monday night.
NHIOP Executive Director Neil Levesque was puzzled by YouTube’s decision.
“This was a political and public policy speech that YouTube has censored.”
RFK, Jr. is well known for advocating views often labeled “conspiracy theories,” including his suggestion that childhood diseases like autism are linked to vaccines. He also spread the debunked conspiracy that the 2004 presidential election was stolen from John Kerry.
His views on vaccines have gotten him banned from social media in the past. In 2021, he was blocked from Instagram and Facebook over his conspiracy theories involving mRNA vaccines and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
“We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” a spokesperson for Facebook said at the time.
On Friday, RFK, Jr. mentioned being censored by Facebook, claiming it was the Biden White House that ordered his removal.
However unorthodox his views, RFK, Jr. was still welcomed by some of the biggest names in the New Hampshire Democratic Party, including state party chair Ray Buckley and Senate Minority Leader Donna Soucy (D-Manchester). If they could sit and hear what the possible 2024 presidential candidate had to say, why not voters across the state, Cote asked.
“We only try to help the Manchester citizens be the most educated about all views and opinions that we can.”