Well that didn’t take long. Leftists are attacking Joe Rogan after President Trump agreed on Monday to do a fourth debate against former vice president Joe Biden if it is moderated by the comedian and podcast host.
The way they are doing it is totally corrupt: They are taking a joke from Rogan’s stand-up comedy routine and misrepresenting it as a sincere claim, and then using that to portray the comedian as transphobic.
Rogan’s joke called an “unfounded claim”
Media Matters (a self-described “progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media”) led the charge by posting a hit piece critical of Rogan on Monday, a few hours after Trump expressed his willingness to participate in an additional debate.
On Tuesday, Insider.com posted an article (that referenced the Media Matters piece) with a headline that reads: “Joe Rogan suggests Kardashian ‘b—-es” made Caitlyn Jenner trans, sparking criticism over unfounded claim.”
The first paragraph then repeats the “unfounded claim” characterization: “Joe Rogan made incendiary remarks about Caitlyn Jenner in an episode of his podcast on Friday, making the unfounded claim that living with the Kardashian women somehow contributed to her transgender identify.”
Here’s the thing: The “unfounded claim” the article refers to is a joke from a bit in his 2016 Netflix stand-up comedy special “Triggered.” It was not a sincere claim. It was a joke, and this should have been obvious to anyone who watched the special or listened to the recent podcast episode in which he discussed how he wrote the bit. (“The Joe Rogan Experience” episode #1535, which was released Friday, Sept. 11.)
The Insider.com article acknowledged that Rogan was explaining a stand-up bit on his podcast, yet a bullet point at the top of the article still referred to the joke as an “inflammatory and false claim.”
Here’s something the Insider.com article leaves out: In the joke set-up (as seen in the comedy special), Rogan specifically says that “Definitely there are people who were born in the wrong gender. Am I saying they should stay their gender? No, who gives a f—? You should do whatever you want to do. You should be happy; you should be free.” He then goes on to postulate that maybe the reason for Jenner’s transition from Bruce to Caitlyn was due to living with the Kardashians. It was clearly, and obviously, a joke.
On his podcast, Rogan was discussing the mechanics of the joke, which he has explained on the show several times before. (Loyal listeners of the show know that Rogan sometimes gets repetitive about certain topics, as demonstrated by this excellent parody.)
Listening to the conversation in context, it is abundantly clear that Rogan was discussing a joke, and not engaging in hate speech. Any loyal listener of his show likewise knows that Rogan favors long conversations precisely because you can explore topics with more nuance, instead of short soundbites. Which was his whole point in saying he would be willing to moderate a presidential debate in the first place.
Still, it seems Media Matters and the left have the knives out for Rogan to protect Biden from the possibility of having to debate Trump on Rogan’s podcast. (Nevermind that Rogan is a self-proclaimed liberal, and that 2020 Democratic presidential nominees Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang have all been guests on Rogan’s show.)
It seems that the left is scared because they know that Rogan has reach. (His podcast is downloaded about 200 million times per month.) And Rogan, who previously said he would probably vote for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, has frequently said he thinks that Biden is suffering from cognitive decline.
Rogan: Biden won’t debate
On a podcast episode released Wednesday, Sept. 16 (“The Joe Rogan Experience” episode #1537), Rogan reiterated his previous comments that he thought Biden would try to find a way to get out of the debates.
“I don’t think they’re gonna happen,” Rogan said to his guest, physicist Lex Friedman.
“He’s gonna have to get out of the debates,” Rogan said. “If I was a Democratic strategist, there is no fucking way I would let him debate.” Rogan then said that the only reason the Biden campaign is winning is because people want Trump out of office.
Rogan also criticized Biden’s running mate Sen. Kamala Harris in the same conversation:
“One of the things that’s weird about Kamala Harris being with Joe Biden is that, you know, she was talking like terrible things about him during the primaries. I mean when she was running against him in the primaries, she said horrible things about him, and then when they brought it up on the Colbert Show, she was like ‘It was a debate! It was a debate!’”
“Like, is that what a debate is? By any means necessary you’ll distort your own views of a person in order to diminish that person so you can succeed and they fail. Or, do you really mean that, and that’s why you said it in the debate and you’re willing to compromise whatever your ethics or your morals or whatever your perceptions of this person are because you want to be vice president? It’s one or the other. Either one’s not good,” Rogan said.