Joe Rogan has sparked backlash for his recent comments about the COVID-19 vaccine. On the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, the stand-up comedian and longtime UFC commentator said he doesn’t think “healthy” people need to worry about getting the coronavirus vaccine.
During a conversation on the JRE episode #1639 with fellow comedian Dave Smith, Rogan said, “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’re a healthy person, and you’re exercising all the time, and you’re young, and you’re eating well, like, I don’t think you need to worry about this.” The conversation gained attention on social media after it was highlighted by Media Matters for America.
Rogan earlier said on the episode, posted April 23, 2021, “I think you should get vaccinated if you’re vulnerable. I think you should get vaccinated if you feel like. My parents are vaccinated. I’ve encouraged a lot of people to get (vaccinated) and people say, do you think it’s safe to get vaccinated? I’ve said, yeah, I think for the most part it’s safe to get vaccinated. I do. I do.”
Smith, a New York-based comic who hosts two podcasts of his own and often appears on Fox News, told Rogan, “Look, my daughter is a lot younger than your kids, but I’m like, yeah, I’m not injecting my daughter with something to fucking virtue signal. Like, I’m not doing that. If there’s something that she’s of no risk, statistically has no risk from, I’m sorry. I’m not taking any experiment on her. And that’s my attitude toward it.”
But it’s amazing that that’s controversial. That even saying that, I’m not going to inject my child with the vaccine, is controversial. It’s crazy. Because again, we are not talking about even the flu that we just found out killed 22,000 people last year. We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about something that is not statistically dangerous for children. But yet people still want you to get your child vaccinated, which is crazy to me. Like you should be vaccinated if you are vulnerable. You should.
Florida Atlantic University professor and FAU Medicine physician Joanna Drowos said medical experts believe younger people should get the vaccine, even if they believe they are healthy enough to survive coronavirus, “The complications of COVID-19 are serious and life-threatening and there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. Getting sick also means you could spread the disease to friends, family and others around you. The clinical trials conducted show these vaccines are safe and effective, which is required before their use is authorized. The known and potential benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the potential risks of disease, regardless of your age and health status.”
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Spotify Is Facing Calls to Address the Comments Made by Rogan & to Remove the Episode From the Platform
Those outraged by Rogan’s recent comments are calling for Spotify to respond and for the episode to be removed from the platform. Rogan signed an exclusive deal with the streaming service in 2020 that is worth more than $100 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. The deal has been controversial for both sides. Spotify has faced backlash over Rogan guests like InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and anti-trans writer Abigail Shrier. Rogan has faced criticism from his fans, who have said he sold out and have raised concerns about controversial episodes Spotify has removed from its platform.
After Rogan’s recent comments about COVID-19, several people on Twitter blasted Spotify. Mule Design co-founder Mike Monteiro tweeted an image showing he canceled his subscription to the streaming service and wrote on Twitter, “This felt good. F***
@Spotify. F*** giving Joe Rogan a platform.” University of Alberta health law and science law professor Timothy Caulfield tweeted, “Incredible that @JoeRogan coming out with this science-free rant during #WorldImmunizationWeek2021. He is an influential voice. Come on, @Spotify. Help the universe!”
CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan tweeted, “How it started // How it’s going. Spotify did PR *a few weeks ago* about “vaccine playlists” to encourage people to get their shot. Today, Spotify’s top star Joe Rogan told young people not to get vaccinated.”
Nicholas Cristakis, a Yale social and natural science professor, tweeted, “I admire
@joerogan. His conversational style & his reach are phenomenal. But I think his advice that young people not get vaccinated misses the mark. Young people are at low risk of death no matter what. COVID19 increases their risk by ~30%. Why not avoid this with a safe shot?? Cristakis added, “Furthermore, young people also need to do their part for benefit of our society. Rich people need to pay more taxes. Healthcare workers take a risk of death. So have essential workers. Many have suffered. It’s not a lot to ask to simply get a vaccine to help restore our society.”
Former Slate and Medium writer Will Oremus tweeted, “Do people like Joe Rogan who frame masking and vaccines as individual health choices really not understand that they’re as much about protecting *others* as protecting yourself? Or are they just pretending not to understand it because it’s easier than admitting they don’t care?”
Spotify has not commented about Rogan’s vaccine comments. According to The Verge, “A source close to the situation says Spotify reviewed this Rogan episode and left it live because he doesn’t come off as outwardly anti-vaccine. He also doesn’t make a call to action, this source says, noting that the company has taken down other, explicitly anti-vaccine podcasts and music.”
The Verge pointed out that previously Spotify removed songs that included anti-vax conspiracy theories messages and a podcast that included COVID-19 misinformation, and issued a statement at the time saying, “Spotify prohibits content on the platform which promotes dangerous false, deceptive, or misleading content about COVID-19 that may cause offline harm and/or pose a direct threat to public health. When content that violates this standard is identified it is removed from the platform.”
Rogan & Smith Also Blasted the Idea of COVID-19 Vaccine Passports During the JRE Podcast Episode
Smith defended Rogan on Twitter after the comments during his appearance on the JRE podcast went viral. Smith wrote, “Let’s get real, what Joe Rogan said in that clip was completely reasonable and there’s really no sound scientific argument against it. Also, whoever that other guy in that sweet a** bomber jacket was, he made some great points.”
During the episode, Rogan and Smith also spoke out against the idea of vaccine passports. Rogan told Smith, who has libertarian political views, one of the reasons he invited him on the podcast was to talk about the issue, saying they share a “deep concern” about it.
Rogan said, “This is not something they’re just going to keep with COVID vaccines. If there’s a way that they can get you to show your papers and to show whether you have an app on your phone or whatever it is that you have in order to freely travel around the United States, they’re going to keep that f****** thing.”
Smith, who hosts the Part of the Problem and The Legion of Skanks podcasts, added, “I think objectively, the country went totalitarian for about a year. Not every single part of it was as totalitarian as the rest. But according to governors, out of their own words, they suspended the bill of rights. We’ve been in a year under that. How long do you think we can go living in a totalitarian society before that’s just what our society is and there’s not really a memory of the old normal or that at least seems like the old times and that’s just not who we are anymore. We’re already dangerously close to that position.” Smith added:
We could go back to being a free country. Not as free as some of us would like, but at least the way we used to have it. Or, we could go to what is being proposed and talked about, which is a national caste system, where there is one group of people that have basic freedoms and rights and one group of people who do not. They don’t have the freedom to travel, they don’t have the freedom to go to events, maybe not to work. Ideas have been floated out about grocery stores, that’s a national caste system
And also just throwing away the idea that you have any type of medical privacy from the government. It’s being done in collusion between big businesses and the government. I don’t mean to be hyperbolic but I think this whole thing is f*****. I really think this whole country, we’re not going to come out of this. … You think they’re going to take that power and then this will only ever be used for the COVID vaccine? Why would it be?
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in April there are no plans for a federal vaccine passport program. Psaki told reporters, “Well, let me be very clear on this — I know there’s been lots of questions: The government is not now, nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential. There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”
Psaki added, “As these tools are being considered by the private and nonprofit sectors, our interest is very simple from the federal government, which is Americans’ privacy and rights should be protected, and so the — so that these systems are not used against people unfairly.”