Throughout his thirty year career in entertainment, Joe Rogan has earned a legion of fans as the host of Fear Factor, the voice of the UFC, and through his appearance on MADtv. But despite these roles, he’s mostly known as the host of the highly successful Joe Rogan Experience podcast, which is the eighth most downloaded podcast of any category.
In the years since his podcast debuted, Rogan has become one of the most influential celebrities in the United States, with Rolling Stone going as far as naming him, “The 21st Century Timothy Leary.” While many would claim that Rogan’s podcast is pure entertainment, Rogan’s rhetoric and choices of whom to associate his podcast with are harmful to his listeners and promote hysteria among his audience.
Throughout his podcast’s history he, along with various guests, have constantly discussed and have given credence to various conspiracy theories. Rogan has proclaimed on his podcast that he believed that the Apollo astronauts did not land on the moon, that the United States government was behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and that the government found aliens in Roswell, New Mexico.
In addition, Rogan has spent countless hours dissecting the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, providing various theories to who was truly behind the attacks and even saying, “I’ve got to go with controlled demolition, if I had to, one way or the other. I absolutely don’t know. But I would not be surprised if it was proven that it was a controlled demolition.”
By giving legitimacy to these conspiracy theories amongst others, Rogan is encouraging the “fake news” movement and is essentially telling his audience not to trust anything that is generally accepted as true.
Rogan, whether he is aware of it or not, is promoting alt-right figures and their ideology through his podcast. His list of guests include Alex Jones, Milos Yiannopoulos and Steven Crowder, all of whom have espoused rhetoric that is factually inaccurate and who deliberately instill fear or hatred for their own benefit.
Rogan disclosed his fondness for Alex Jones in a discussion with Steven Crowder by saying he is an interesting and entertaining person. This description is a seal of approval to a man who actively promotes theories that tragedies such as Sandy Hook and the Las Vegas shooting are false flag operations by the United States government in order to hoodwink his audience into buying marked up products sold directly by Jones himself, as seen in John Oliver’s piece about his methods.
Rogan is playing right into the alt-right’s hands by providing a platform that humanizes them and instead of fact checking their ludicrous statements, he allows them to espouse their beliefs to his audience, thereby lending his guests credibility and an audience to preach to.
By doing this consistently he is pushing their vile messages closer and closer into the mainstream and contributing to their acceptance into the social media world. His viewers have become susceptible to illogical, xenophobic and hateful rhetoric because Rogan gives people like Jones and Yiannopoulos a platform where they will not be challenged and called out for their words and behavior.
In the wake of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s mass “fake news” message it is imperative that we call out organizations and people who repeatedly undermine the truth for their own benefits. Joe Rogan, inadvertent as it might be, is contributing to the narrative that all media is filled with gross misinformation and deceit. All this serves to do is further damage the public’s trust in institutions and the truth itself.