Kennedy is chairman of the World Mercury Project, a group that advocates for a global ban on mercury, a substance that is 100 times more toxic than lead.
Kennedy stated that the pharmaceutical industry is now the single biggest contributor to advertising revenue to network news divisions, to the tune of $5.4 billion per year.
"A network news broadcast these days ... is just a vehicle for selling pharmaceutical products," he said.
Kennedy reported that one of the country's biggest networks said that he was sympathetic to Kennedy's position on thimerosal, but could not allow that perspective to be aired on the network. The executive said that he would have to fire any host who interviewed Kennedy on the subject.
Kennedy noted that even smaller media outlets, including many online news sources, also take massive amounts of advertising money from Big Pharma.
At the same press conference, Kennedy announced the "World Mercury Project Challenge" for journalists and others who have publicly insisted on the safety of thimerosal-containing vaccines. The World Mercury Project will pay $100,000 to the first person who can provide a peer-reviewed scientific study showing that thimerosal is safe in the dosages found in vaccines currently being given to US children and pregnant women.
Although thimerosal was removed from all shots classified as "child" vaccines in the United States in 2001, it is still contained in "adult" shots given to pregnant women and adolescents, including flu, meningococcal and tetanus shots. It is also still used in very high doses in pediatric vaccines in poorer countries.
Kennedy has blasted the hypocrisy of the US government's mixed messages on mercury exposure.
"On one hand, the government is telling pregnant women which mercury-laced fish to avoid so that they don't harm their fetuses, and on the other, the CDC supports injecting mercury-containing vaccines into pregnant women, infants and children," said Kennedy, who spent decades litigating polluters who dumped mercury into water systems. "This defies all logic and common sense."
Last month, a large meta-analysis by two Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientists showed that contrary to the CDC's own longstanding claims, the ethylmercury found in thimerosal is just as toxic as the methylmercury found in fish. Additionally, the researchers found that thimerosal and ethylmercury are not flushed quickly from the body, as the CDC has also claimed.
">Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, has issued his own challenge to those who defend the safety of thimerosal-containing vaccines: prove the safety of mercury by drinking a liter of any form of the substance (ethyl-, methyl- or other).
Kennedy noted that despite accusations from the media and from vaccine defenders, he is not "anti-vaccine," and that he vaccinated all of his own children. Rather, he considers himself an advocate for vaccine safety.
"It's our hope that this challenge will elevate this important debate beyond name-calling and prompt a genuine examination of the relevant science," he wrote in a letter distributed at the press conference. "The American public is entitled to an honest, probing and vigorous discussion about this critical public health issue – a debate based on facts, not rooted in fear, or on blind faith in regulators and the pharmaceutical industry."
The name calling referenced by Kennedy was on display recently when Dr. Daniel Neides, a family doctor and the director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, published a blog post suggesting that exposure to toxic chemicals from sources including vaccines is likely contributing to an "epidemic" of chronic diseases -- including autism.
The media immediately tarred Neides with the "anti-vaccine" brush, while other doctors publicly maligned him, and harassed his employer until the clinic agreed to discipline him.