Interesting, but not totally surprising, and also not totally smart to make this move.
Given that he's already talked to Libertarian Party chair Angela McArdle, his growing frustration with trying to top President Joe Biden in the Democratic Party primary process has become quite public.
So, aborting that, I get.
The "not totally smart" is running as an Independent. John Anderson is the last serious candidate to try that route. Ross is Boss Perot, even though he had no congressional candidates on his coattails, nonetheless got the Reform Party created as a platform and vehicle.
First, I don't think he gets the ballot access difficulties that face an independent, and that have only grown, perhaps exponentially, in the more than 40 years since Anderson did it.
Now, it's true that he's got Kennedy money (although that may not be quite as much as some of us think) to throw at paid petition signature gatherers in states that allow that. But, there's also getting official presidential electors in our American system and more.
And, unless he wanted to try to bigfoot Cornel West, the Libertarians are his best angle.
I also doubt that No Labels wants to nominate him, even if it opts to nominate somebody. No Labels also has the baggage from its own POV that, at least in states covered by law by the Ninth Circuit, it CANNOT be only a presidential party, barring a new lawsuit.
The duopoly-based political Horse Race angle.
And, going by polls this summer, RFK Jr. going independent could hurt Republicans more than Democrats.
Reuters' story on the announcement, without detailed polling numbers, agrees. So does a National Review piece from July, linked by Mediaite.
That said, those numbers will change, and they'll change more if he abandons the Independent line and joins a third party.
Now, some final analysis of this.
The flip side of all of this?
First, like West went from MPP first to the Greens second (actually, he's technically running both as a fusion candidate), RFK Jr's move to an independent run doesn't preclude eventually moving to the Libertarians.
Second, the flip side to that is? Beyond the NYT reporting, the meeting with McArdle must just not have gone that well, if we're going to read between some lines.
Third is, on the "horse race" angle, running under the LP banner would probably hurt Republicans even more.
Fourth, though, per that NR piece, Kennedy's fit as a Libertarian would be tough indeed. And, there's no guarantee he'd win the primary. Ditto on if he decided to bigfoot West.
Speaking of third parties? Anderson helped form the Justice Party not too many years before his death.
Now, media analysis.
Why Friday evening / late afternoon news dump time? (Contra any assumptions this was an accident, while this technically may be a "leak," not an "announcement," it seems to me to clearly have been a "planned leak," and on the semantics of that versus "announcement"? Per Spock in STTOS: "A difference that makes no difference IS no difference.")
So, why Friday dead zone time? Especially with shutdown news soaking up some of the media political oxygen? Could that be that RFK didn't want too big a trumpet blast?
As for "where"? Mediaite was certainly a chosen target. You don't have to worry about leaking to the NYT and pissing off the WaPost, or leaking to NR and pissing off TNR, etc.
Mediate is a media analysis site, but one that focuses on analysis of political news coverage. Perfect target.
And, on the timing, once more? The big announcement is Oct. 9, so, the campaign needed some sort of leak before then. And, Friday dead zone time? RFK's campaign, or the man himself, could have figured that all the shutdown coverage was to their advantage. News junkies wanted something else in national news, and many of RFK's vote targets are probably open to blaming both duopoly sides on the shutdown.