Joe Rogan Fits in Perfectly With America's Toxic Political Establishment
Rogan is hardly an outlier or outsider in a system where racism, capitalism, and blatant propaganda rule.
Joe Rogan is the son of a police officer and an immensely popular podcaster whose audience exceeds virtually any other media figure in the United States. His “regular Joe just trying to figure shit out” approach appeals to millions of listeners across the country.
Rogan also has a history of making racist comments. For example:
Powerful. Powerful combination, genetic-wise, right? You get the body of the black man and then you get the mind of the white man all together in some strange combination. That doesn't, by the way, mean that black people don't have brains. It's a different brain, don't get me wrong.
So … we're going to go see Planet of the Apes. So I look on the iphone app, and it says okay take me to this one. And the guy goes, "okay." I go, "Is that in a good neighborhood?" He's like "Oh yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah." Guy barely speaks English. He takes us there, we get out and we're giggling, "oooh we're going to see Planet of the Apes." We walk into Planet of the Apes. We walked into Africa, dude. We walked in the door and there was no white people. There was no white people. Planet of the Apes didn't take place in Africa. That was a racist thing for me to say. You see what I'm saying?
Rogan is also slammed by his critics for platforming rightwing views, conspiracies, and disinformation.
Rogan has been called a menace to public health.
Doctors, healthcare workers, and scientists from around the world warned streaming company Spotify that its most listened-to podcast, "The Joe Rogan Experience," is endangering millions of people by giving a platform to guests who spread misinformation about Covid-19—without the company making an effort to correct false statements.
After an uproar over Rogan’s frequent use of the N-word, and an exodus of artists from Spotify, Rogan issued an apology.
So is Rogan an outlier, a rogue voice, an independent thinker? Not exactly. Rogan’s mindset fits in perfectly with America’s political establishment.
Consider these comments from Mitch McConnell and Joe Biden, which are more recent than Rogan’s:
"Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” — Joe Biden, 2019
"African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans." — Mitch McConnell, 2022
And then consider Biden praising McConnell (whose party is a haven for white supremacists): “You’re a man of word and a man of honor. Thank you for being my friend.”
How about the matter of racist policing? Both ruling parties are intent on militarizing the police:
Now let’s switch gears and discuss COVID-19 misinformation. Rogan is justifiably criticized for minimizing the virus and spreading conspiracies. But the political establishment has its own Rogan, planted firmly at the NY Times. David Leonhardt reaches an audience of 5 million readers, including Joe Biden.
As I wrote recently, Dr. Cecilia Tomori, Director of Global Public Health and Community Health at Johns Hopkins, took Leonhardt to task:
It's amazing that someone who has consistently minimized the impacts of COVID and has expressed little concern for those dying or suffering, or becoming disabled from COVID continues to have the opportunity to claim authority about this topic. To argue that we should just get on with life because boosted individuals (like himself) face relatively low personal risk of death from the virus misses so much. The entire framing is wrong. Infectious diseases are inherently about social interaction. And people do not exist as islands - they live in families, communities and interact with others. These interactions involve vaccinated (1, 2, or 3 doses) and unvaccinated people.
And speaking of misinformation and endangering public health, let’s look at what both ruling parties have said and done about COVID-19:
Lied about the how quickly the pandemic would end, multiple times.
Lied about whether masks are necessary, multiple times.
Lied about the virus being “mild” against the warnings of experts.
Forced workers to return to work with little help or protection.
Forces teachers and students into schools with little help or protection.
Bailed out the billionaire class while sending crumbs to the people.
Sacrificed vulnerable citizens by prioritizing capitalism over human lives.
Joe Rogan’s reach is massive, and his racist comments are repulsive and condemnable. But selective outrage at Rogan doesn’t solve the deeper problem: Our entire political establishment is rotten to its core. Until we address the root causes, nothing meaningful will change.