Advertisement

RFK Jr.’s VP prospect Aaron Rodgers has shared false Sandy Hook conspiracy theories in private conversations

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has confirmed that among his potential vice-presidential prospects is New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who in private conversations shared deranged conspiracy theories about the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting not being real.

CNN knows of two people with whom Rodgers has enthusiastically shared these stories, including with Pamela Brown, one of the journalists writing this piece.

Brown was covering the Kentucky Derby for CNN in 2013 when she was introduced to Rodgers, then with the Green Bay Packers, at a post-Derby party. Hearing that she was a journalist with CNN, Rodgers immediately began attacking the news media for covering up important stories. Rodgers brought up the tragic killing of 20 children and 6 adults by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School, claiming it was actually a government inside job and the media was intentionally ignoring it.

When Brown questioned him on the evidence to show this very real shooting was staged, Rodgers began sharing various theories that have been disproven numerous times. Such conspiracy theories were also later at the center of lawsuits brought by victims’ families when they sued conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on the matter.

Jones baselessly repeating lies that the 2012 mass shooting was staged, and that the families and first responders were “crisis actors,” spawned multiple lawsuits and a trial was held in 2022 over lawsuits that were filed in Connecticut.

Family members throughout that trial described in poignant terms how the lies had prompted unrelenting harassment against them and compounded the emotional agony of losing their loved ones.

Brown recalls Rodgers asking her if she thought it was off that there were men in black in the woods by the school, falsely claiming those men were actually government operatives. Brown found the encounter disturbing.

CNN has spoken to another person with a similar story. This person, to whom CNN has granted anonymity so as to avoid harassment, recalled that several years ago, Rodgers claimed, “Sandy Hook never happened…All those children never existed. They were all actors.”

When asked about the grieving parents, the source recalled Rodgers saying, “They’re all making it up. They’re all actors.”

Rodgers went on to delve into some of the darker caverns of the false conspiracy theory. This person found the encounter disturbing.

On Thursday, Rodgers did not deny the comments he made to Brown or the other source, but said on X, “As I’m on the record saying in the past, what happened in Sandy Hook was an absolute tragedy. I am not and have never been of the opinion that the events did not take place. Again, I hope that we learn from this and other tragedies to identify the signs that will allow us to prevent unnecessary loss of life. My thoughts and prayers continue to remain with the families affected along with the entire Sandy Hook community.”

Kennedy’s campaign announced Wednesday that the candidate will name his running mate on March 26 in Oakland, California. Kennedy told CNN in an interview on Tuesday that he had recently met with Rodgers, as well as former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, about the possibility of joining his campaign.

Following CNN’s reporting, a campaign spokesperson said Kennedy believes the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a “horrific tragedy.”

“Mr. Kennedy believes the Sandy Hook shooting was a horrific tragedy. The 20 children and 6 adults that died December 14, 2012 brought the entire country together in grief. Let us honor their memory,” Kennedy spokesperson Stefanie Spear told CNN.

This story has been updated with a comment from the Kennedy campaign and a comment from Aaron Rodgers on X.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com