Kennedy Supporters Protest Outside CNN Office in Burbank After He Is Excluded From Debate

Kennedy Supporters Protest Outside CNN Office in Burbank After He Is Excluded From Debate

Supporters of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. rally outside the corporate offices of CNN and Warner Bros. Discovery in Burbank, Calif., on June 21, 2024. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin

6/22/2024

Updated: 6/23/2024

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BURBANK, Calif.—Dozens of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. supporters protested outside CNN’s western U.S. bureau in Burbank, California, June 21 after the news network announced that the independent candidate failed to meet the entry criteria for the upcoming presidential debate.
“Let Bobby speak!” the group chanted outside the main office of Warner Bros. Discovery, the company that owns CNN.
CNN announced Thursday that Mr. Kennedy fell short of benchmarks for state ballot qualification and necessary polling. The news network set criteria to include candidates only if they secured enough spots on state ballots to be eligible for at least 270 Electoral College votes, the minimum needed to win the presidency.
Candidates also needed to get at least 15 percent of voters in four separate national polls of registered or likely voters to meet CNN’s standards.
The decision means presumptive nominees Republican former President Donald Trump and Democrat President Joe Biden will duel on the debate stage on June 27 in Atlanta.
The major party candidates have cleared CNN’s threshold but won’t be certified for the ballot until they are formally nominated by their party conventions later this summer.
Mr. Kennedy, who lives in Malibu with his actress wife Cheryl Hines, thanked his supporters for rallying behind him at locations across the country and in California, including Burbank, San Francisco, and Sacramento.
“Americans nationwide are protesting the channel’s undemocratic decision to exclude me from the first presidential debate next week,” Mr. Kennedy wrote on X. “Thank you to everyone who has come out or plans to come out today!”
One campaign volunteer called the Kennedy exclusion "an insult to democracy." Above, supporters rally in Burbank, Calif., on June 21, 2024. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

One campaign volunteer called the Kennedy exclusion "an insult to democracy." Above, supporters rally in Burbank, Calif., on June 21, 2024. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Kennedy, who chose California attorney and entrepreneur Nicole Shanahan as his running mate, said June 20 the major party candidates didn’t want him on the debate stage.
“Americans want an independent leader who will break apart the two-party duopoly. They want a President who will heal the divide, restore the middle class, unwind the war machine, and end the chronic disease epidemic,” he posted on X.
Mr. Kennedy’s son Bobby Kennedy III, a writer and director who lives in the Los Angeles area, came out to support Friday’s rally in Burbank, saying the debate decision won’t affect the campaign. Mr. Kennedy planned to join the debate on X, instead.
“We’re going to have our own debate,” his son told The Epoch Times. “Thanks to social media, and thanks to the internet, I wouldn’t be surprised if our version gets significantly more viewers … We have an army that backs us on the internet.”
Several volunteers at the Burbank rally were disappointed by CNN’s decision, including campaign volunteer Ronnie Kroell, who held up a campaign sign and waved at cars passing by on South California Street.
“It’s an insult to democracy. It’s an insult to the American people,” Mr. Kroell told The Epoch Times. “We need to take back our country. It’s the only way we’re going to solve any of our problems is to put the power back into the people.”
Mr. Kennedy filed an election complaint May 28 with the Federal Election Commission, claiming the news network collaborated with the major party candidates to exclude him from the debate. He also claimed the network’s requirements were designed to ensure only President Biden and former President Trump were included.
CNN released a statement saying that “the law in virtually every state provides that the nominee of a state-recognized political party will be allowed ballot access without petition.”
“As the presumptive nominees of their parties, both Biden and Trump will satisfy this requirement,” the network added. “As an independent candidate, under applicable laws, RFK Jr. does not. The mere application for ballot access does not guarantee that he will appear on the ballot in any state. In addition, RFK Jr. does not currently meet our polling criteria, which, like other objective criteria, were set before issuing invitations to the debate.”
Warner Bros. Discovery did not return a request for comment about Friday’s protests.
Rancho Santa Fe resident Suzanne Finder came to the Burbank rally Friday, saying Mr. Kennedy’s background in environmental law and his record of fighting to solve chronic disease issues is what brought her there.
The country needs clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean food, and clean medicine, she told The Epoch Times.
The group planned to deliver a petition to CNN asserting Mr. Kennedy should be allowed to debate. Above, supporters rally in Burbank, Calif., on June 21, 2024. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

The group planned to deliver a petition to CNN asserting Mr. Kennedy should be allowed to debate. Above, supporters rally in Burbank, Calif., on June 21, 2024. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

“Mr. Kennedy has spent 40 years in his role as an environmental attorney to achieving those goals, and Americans deserve to hear his message,” she said. “I don’t know a single parent who doesn’t want their child to be healthy and well, and that’s what he stands for, for me.”
Campaign volunteer Laura Jones was thrilled by the support of the Southern California residents who protested.
“We’re absolutely thrilled that everyone has shown up to say to CNN, we want more voices, more choices in this election and in the debates,” Ms. Jones told The Epoch Times.
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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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