The pair are looking for proof that vaccines are safe and teamed up to offer $100,000 to anyone who can provide such information.
The actor participated in the panel, which showcased discredited claims surrounding vaccination, including the notion that they cause autism and that high levels of mercury in immunizations can make kids sick.
“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,” Kennedy said at the joint press conference Wednesday.
Kennedy, the son of the late U.S. attorney general and senator, insisted that journalists and the government have been colluding to cover up the truth about vaccine safety and that the “shots have caused the autism epidemic.”
De Niro, whose son has autism, and Kennedy called out the use of thimerosal, which is a mercury-based preservative.
READ MORE: 6 vaccination myths debunked
The cash challenge is offered through Kennedy’s World Mercury Project for anyone “who can find a peer-reviewed scientific study demonstrating that thimerosal is safe in the amounts contained in vaccines currently being administered to American children and pregnant women.”
A FDA study in 1999 found that thimerosal used as a vaccine preservative posed no harm except for hypersensitivity.
The FDA phased the preservative out of vaccines for children and it hasn’t been used since 2001, with the exception of an inactivated flu vaccine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also provided research that shows there’s no link between thimerosal and autism.
Shortly after meeting with U.S.President Trump in January, Kennedy claimed he was invited to head a vaccine commission. Trump’s spokespeople later clarified that the U.S president was instead looking at “the possibility of forming a committee on autism” but that no decisions had been made at that point.
Kennedy has a long history of speaking about vaccines.
In 2005, he published an article titled “Deadly Immunity,” in both Rolling Stone and Salon, alleging that the mercury-based chemical thimerosal causes mercury poisoning and in turn autism, according to Vox.
There was no evidence to support Kennedy’s view and the article was retracted at Salon.
WATCH BELOW: Robert De Niro sounds off on anti-vaccine film controversy and wants answers in Today show interview
In 2016, De Niro pulled his anti-vaccination movie Vaxxed from the Tribeca Film Festival lineup. The actor appeared on the Today show shortly after and spoke about the film and what his intentions are.
“I think the movie is something that people should see,” he said. “There’s a lot of information about things that are happening with the CDC, the pharmaceutical companies, there’s a lot of things that are not said. I, as a parent of a child who has autism, I’m concerned. And I want to know the truth. I’m not anti-vaccine. I want safe vaccines.”
When Today host Willie Geist pointed out that there’s plenty of scientific evidence proving that vaccines don’t cause autism, De Niro replied that he thinks everyone should see Vaxxed and decide for themselves.
With files from Chris Jancelewicz