Joe Rogan would like you to know that he’s an idiot (a “fucking moron,” in fact) and nobody should listen to his vaccine misinformation. Can he keep his podcast? Yes. Okay.
On an April 23rd episode of the Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan told what is potentially tens of millions of listeners that he would advise young people not to get vaccinated. Rogan didn’t cite medical evidence in brushing off the breakthrough scientific miracle that could save us from resistant strains. His response was more like: eh.
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.
If you’ve gotten this far in the blog and are wondering what meaningful impact a comedian’s offhand comments have on your life, great! Hopefully, you’re vaccinated. The problem, for Earth, is that many are not and don’t plan on it. The United States is currently hoarding excess vaccines just in case hesitant Americans decide to make the appointment while Kenyans are hoping that the country gets enough supply in time for a second dose while deaths surge. A March poll by NPR and the PBS Newshour found that 33 percent of adult Americans either don’t plan to get the vaccine or are on the fence. (Anecdotally, just listen to drivetime radio call-ins right now.) Depending on their decision, the pandemic could end, or it could not.
In response to Rogan’s comment, Dr. Anthony Fauci repeated that fact to Savannah Guthrie on the Today show.
“If you wanna only worry about yourself, and not society, then that’s okay,” Fauci said. “But if you’re saying to yourself, even if I get infected, I could do damage to somebody else—even if I have no symptoms at all. And that’s the reason why you’ve got to be careful and get vaccinated.”
On a subsequent podcast posted yesterday, Rogan shrugged off his influence. “I’m not a doctor, I’m a fucking moron, and I’m a cage fighting commentator who’s a dirty stand-up comedian,” he said. “I just told you, I’m drunk most of the time.” He added that he’s also stoned all the time and jacked up on testosterone.
Blood alcohol content aside, anything that comes out of Rogan’s mouth could hold more weight than the CDC’s advice. A survey of 1.9 million Americans by the Delphi Group at Carnegie Mellon University found that people are far more likely to listen to friends and family than the World Health Organization, with practically zero confidence in government officials and politicians. Local healthcare workers were the most influential, but they don’t claim to get hundreds of millions of monthly listens.
He added that “clickbaity” sites blow his comments out of proportion for traffic. For the record, the first outlet to pick up the story was Media Matters, a 501(c)(3) watchdog devoted to tracking influential misinformation spreaders. (If you’re wondering, yes, traffic is the poison I crave, but I certainly would rather be thinking about anything but Joe Rogan on a Friday.)
Rogan did admit that “there’s some legitimate science” behind mass vaccination and added that thinking about other people is “a different argument, and yes, that makes sense.” It was not, in fact, a different argument.
Earlier this week, when asked by Bloomberg, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek declined to comment on Rogan’s vaccine solipsism. Last year, Rogan signed a $100 million licensing deal with the company.