Joe Rogan‘s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, has catapulted the American comedian and UFC enthusiast to international fame. Interviewing everyone from Bernie Sanders to Elon Musk to the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, Rogan’s libertarian brand has pulled in fans from across the aisle; his popular podcast draws nearly 200 million Spotify downloads per month. But last week Rogan faced harsh criticism over his fringe views regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Now he’s spoken out, again, to clarify his commentary.
“I Say Stupid Sh*t”
Speaking to his friend comedian Andrew Santino late last week, Joe Rogan again delved into the topic of Covid-19 vaccination. By then, he’d already been under fire for his commentary suggesting that young and healthy people need not get vaccinated. In this newer segment, Rogan insisted that he’s not “anti-vax” and himself had an appointment to get the Johnson & Johnson shot before that roll-out was halted. That revelation is at odds with previous remarks from Rogan, last February, stating that he did not plan to get vaccinated. Also, it’s still unclear whether he will reschedule that cancelled appointment.
Additionally, Rogan admitted he says “stupid sh*t.” He explained that whether or not a young person wants to get vaccinated to halt the spread of Covid-19 is separate conversation from whether they personally need the vaccine. While that’s technically true, discussions surrounding vaccination as a step to reach herd immunity have always been on the table. Most young people recognize their choice to get vaccinated is a step toward community safety; that aspect of the vaccine is inextricable from simply lowering your own chances of getting sick. Perhaps now Rogan realizes this. Reiterating his own ignorance, the podcast host said quite directly: “I’m not a doctor, I’m a f***ing moron.”
Joe Rogan on the Vaccine
On Joe Rogan’s show last week, the 53-year-old podcast host spoke candidly about his personal views regarding the coronavirus vaccine. Speaking on-air with comedian Dave Smith, Rogan said:
“For the most part [the vaccine] is safe. But If you’re like 21 years old, and you say to me, should I get vaccinated? I’ll go no. Are you healthy? Are you a healthy person? Like, look, don’t do anything stupid, but you should take care of yourself. You should — if you’re a healthy person, and you’re exercising all the time, and you’re young, and you’re eating well, like, I don’t think you need to worry about this.”
Rambling hypothetically, Rogan’s views represent the extent of circulating misinformation regarding vaccines. The shot has been proven safe for young people to take. Plus despite youth, many otherwise healthy people with Covid have been shown to develop long-haul symptoms which persist long after the virus has left your system. Not to mention, it will take roughly 80% of adults to get vaccinated to reach herd immunity.
Regardless of those facts, this is not the first time Rogan has expressed suspicion of the vaccine; in an episode this past February, he announced he did not plan on getting vaccinated. But considering Rogan’s wide reach, his comments targeted toward young, healthy people are something of a public health concern during this deadly pandemic. His fanbase of subscribers, which stretches across age demographics, is intensely devoted.
When Rogan semi-endorsed Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary last year, Sanders happily promoted the relationship realizing a lot of people take Rogan’s word seriously. And even though Sanders faced criticism over Rogan’s blemished track record, his numbers did rise. Another time, Elon Musk (infamously) smoked weed live on The Joe Rogan Experience, causing Tesla’s stock to plummet 6%. For these traceable reasons, Rogan is under constant scrutiny over what people and ideas he’s willing to platform. With great power comes great responsibility — so you’d think. But not for Rogan. He takes an easy-listening, laissez-faire approach to both interviews and political commentary.
And now his baseless opinions on vaccines fall into that indeterminable centrism.
“I’m a F***ing Moron.”
Following the controversy over Rogan’s support of Bernie Sanders, the podcast host was quick to point out that he himself is “a f***ing moron.” Watch that key clip above. His frank response encapsulates the perceived authenticity that makes The Joe Rogan Experience so popular. Which is completely understandable. But his recognition that the public should take his endorsements, Republican or Democrat, with a grain of salt becomes especially vital when discussing a life-saving practice like vaccination. For the same reason that Joe Rogan’s opinion on Sanders overshadowed official endorsements from, say, labor unions and elected officials, his apparent distaste for the Covid vaccines will receive more publicity than the word of any real scientist or CDC rep.
“I’m not gonna sit here with no medical degree listening to you with no medical degree.”
In this clip from June 2020, Bill Burr — another comedian with an “everyman” reputation — calls Joe Rogan out directly for his ignorance regarding the field of medicine. It’s a swift and accurate burn.
The Internet Reacts
Rogan’s comments about vaccination quickly became a whole thing with video footage of his show shared widely on social media. In response, most Twitter users were not shy about putting the host in his place and reminding others about the safe reality of the vaccine. Now fans and critics alike are left to wonder what repercussions, if any, his Spotify show might suffer.
Joe Rogan has caught flack before, for his own comments and for the comments of inflammatory guest that he chooses to host. But the trollish Rogan usually flouts that contention, boasting an ability to hear out different sides of a conversation — and the lucrative pattern continues. So in the spirit of his own brand, perhaps Rogan should consider having Dr. Fauci on to balance the scales. And we’ll see who convinces who about the benefits of a Moderna jab.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published Apr 27, 2021.