President Trump appears to be trying to goad former vice-president Joe Biden into a debate moderated by podcast host Joe Rogan.
Biden should do it.
Rogan’s JRE podcast The Joe Rogan Experience is the most popular in the world – the show was downloaded 2.5 billion times in 2019. Episodes usually run more than three hours, but unlike traditionally structured interviews, they almost always take the form of wide-ranging conversations – giving guests plenty of time to explore ideas and explain their positions without relying on short soundbites.
Rogan started the podcast in 2009 by doing live USTREAM videos, and back then it was just him hanging out with friends. The show hasn’t changed a lot since. His fight companion episodes are literally him sitting around with friends watching fights and discussing wherever the conversation takes them.
The only thing that has really changed is that the show now has a huge audience and is massively influential. It features guests ranging from other stand-up comics to professional athletes, authors, journalists, scientists, MMA fighters, and tech billionaires (Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey have both made repeat appearances), as well as guests from across the political spectrum.
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Rogan is a self-described liberal who previously said that he would probably vote for Bernie Sanders. Sanders has been on the program, as have other contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination, including Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang. But he’s also friends with conservative commentators like Ben Shapiro, and a member of the Intellectual Dark Web that includes Jordan Peterson and Eric Weinstein. He’s willing to talk with anyone – and capable of being friends with people from across the political divide.
Despite his liberal leanings, Rogan has also said that he would likely vote for Trump over Biden due to concern over Biden’s cognitive decline. Rogan said while talking with Rep. Dan Crenshaw that Biden is “clearly in the throws of dementia.” And that’s exactly why Biden should agree to the debate. It’s a good opportunity to demonstrate his mental acuity and put speculation about his mental abilities to rest.
“He’s suffering medically. This is a real issue. And the Democrats want to sweep that under the rug,” Rogan said about Biden. “The guy’s struggling.”
In November 2019, Rogan said that, “Biden, to me, is like having a flashlight with a dying battery and going for a long hike in the woods.”
Trump throws down the gauntlet
The topic of possibly moderating a presidential debate came up on the Friday episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” when Rogan was talking with guest Tim Kennedy, a Special Forces operator and UFC fighter. Rogan said that if he were to moderate a debate, he would want to do it live, unedited, just him and the two presidential candidates, with a camera at his studio in Austin.
Rogan recently moved to Austin, TX after repeatedly complaining about the deteriorating conditions in his former home of California.
“I want no one else in the room, just the three of us, and you’d have to stream it live so no one can edit it, and I would want them in there for hours,” Rogan said while discussing the hypothetical. He said that if the candidates agreed to that, he would do it.
Kennedy on Sunday asked his followers who on Twitter would want to see a presidential debate moderated by Rogan. President Trump responded, “I do!”
As of this writing, Trump’s tweet had more than a quarter-million likes and more than 50,000 retweets.
There are three traditional debates already scheduled. The first is set for September 29 in Cleveland, the second October 15 in Miami, and the third October 22 in Nashville. This means two of the debates are scheduled to take place after many people will have already cast their vote by mail. The debates will be moderated by Kristen Welker of NBC News, C-Span’s political editor Steve Scully, and Chris Wallace of Fox News.
A debate moderated by Rogan would be different. No soundbites. No short clips. It would be a chance to fully explain positions. Which gives both Biden an opportunity to demonstrate his command of issues, and an opportunity to challenge things the president says.
This is a high-risk, high-reward maneuver for Biden. Which almost certainly guarantees he will not take the offer. Biden is safely running ahead in most polls and has chosen to run a campaign of strategic silence to avoid media scrutiny. He’s playing a prevent defense. But if he is truly up to the task, he should accept the challenge.
“The Portal” host Eric Weinstein (frequent JRE guest and member of the Intellectual Dark Web) said on Twitter that it’s an opportunity for Biden to change Rogan’s mind:
“I *guarantee* you as his friend that Rogan would graciously eat his own words if Biden put in a solid 4hr performance. I promise.”
In addition to his podcast, Rogan is known as a stand-up comic and UFC commentator. He also hosted NBC’s “Fear Factor” and had a starring role on the ensemble sitcom “NewsRadio.”
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