John Oliver blasted Joe Rogan during a May 2021 segment about misinformation on his Last Week Tonight HBO show. The comedian and former Daily Show correspondent told those who listen to Rogan to take the podcast host and stand-up comic’s own advice: “Stop listening to what Joe Rogan tells you. He’s a f****** moron. And those are his words, not mine.”
Oliver was referencing a controversy over comments made by Rogan on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast a week earlier. While addressing those comments, Rogan said he doesn’t think he should be taken as a trusted information source. Rogan said, “I’m not a doctor, I’m a f****** moron. And I’m a cagefighting commentator who is a dirty standup comedian. … These are not planned statements. Let’s be real clear. When I say something stupid, I’m not thinking about what I’m going to say before I say it. I’m just saying it. I don’t have an off-air, an on-air voice, I have me. I got through the f****** net and I’m swimming in open waters. And that’s how I live.”
Oliver spent his entire half-hour show addressing misinformation that has led to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among many in the U.S. He included in the segment the fact Rogan had said during the April 24 episode of his podcast that he doesn’t think younger people should get the vaccine if they are healthy and not at high risk. Rogan said he thinks the vaccine is safe and those who are at risk, should get it. He also later said he was planning on getting the vaccine himself, through the UFC.
Rogan’s comments drew immediate backlash from medical experts and the Biden administration, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said on NBC’s Today show, “Well, that’s incorrect. And the reason why is that you’re talking about yourself in a vacuum then. You’re worried about yourself getting infected and the likelihood that you’re not gonna get any symptoms. But you can get infected and will get infected if you put yourself at risk. And even if you don’t have any symptoms, you’re propagating the outbreak because it is likely that you — even if you have no symptoms — that you may inadvertently and innocently then infect someone else who might infect someone who really could have a problem with a severe outcome.”
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Oliver Also Slammed Tucker Carlson & Others Who Are ‘Just Asking Questions’
During a conversation on April 29 clarifying his comments about the COVID-19 vaccine, Rogan said, “The thing about this whole thing, people being upset at me, I didn’t say, I’m not an anti-vax person. In fact, I said I believe they’re safe, and I encourage many people to take them. My parents were vaccinated. I just said I don’t think if you’re a young healthy person that you need it. Their argument was you need it for other people. … That makes more sense. But that’s a different argument. That’s a different conversation.”
Rogan added, “If you say you disagree with me, I probably disagree with me too. I disagree with me all the time. If someone said, ‘Yeah, young healthy 21-year-old people who eat well and exercise are not at high risk for coronavirus, but you should think about other people,’ I would say, ‘Well that’s a different argument, but yes. That makes sense.’ But I’d say, ‘Aren’t those people vaccinated and shouldn’t we vaccinate the vulnerable people?’ And then we’d have a different conversation.”
Oliver addressed that argument during his segment on Last Week Tonight as well, saying, “It is true, you might not get seriously sick from COVID or indeed sick at all. But you could still inadvertently pass it to someone who could then die. And before you say, ‘Well, vulnerable people should just get vaccinated then,’ the vaccines are only 95 percent effective … so they’ll probably be OK, but maybe not. Also, the more the virus circulates the likelier we’ll see mutations making it more dangerous, possibly helping it to evade the vaccine completely, putting us all the way back at square one.”
Oliver also attacked Fox News host Tucker Carlson, saying, “The problem is, when people like Tucker raise questions without bothering to answer them, there is a lot of misinformation out there for people to then stumble on. Anti-vaccine groups have been waiting for a moment like this to spread doubt. And the scary thing is, they don’t actually need to convince people they’re right, they just need to convince people that no one is.”
Carlson previously came to Rogan’s defense after his comments went viral. Carlson said on Tucker Carlson Tonight, “Yeah, so if you’re at risk, get the vaccine, protect yourself, be happy, be grateful we have the vaccine. And if you’re not at risk, maybe you don’t. Is that a crazy point?”
Rogan Addressed the Controversy on His Podcast, Saying ‘I’m Not a Respected Source of Information, Even for Me’
During the JRE #1642 episode of his Spotify-distributed podcast, Rogan talked to his guest, comedian Andrew Santino, about the controversy surrounding his vaccine comments and the comments from Fauci and the White House disagreeing with him.
Rogan said, “I’m not a doctor, I’m a f****** moron. And I’m a cagefighting commentator who is a dirty standup comedian. I just told you, I’m drunk most of the time. And I do testosterone and I smoke a lot of weed,” Rogan said. “I’m not a respected source of information, even for me. If I say things, I’m always going, ‘Check on that Jamie, I don’t know if that’s true,'” Rogan said, in a reference to his producer, Jamie Vernon. He added, “I do that all the time. But I at least try to be honest about what I’m saying.”
Rogan added, “The problem is today, everything is all headlines, and highlights and it’s all clickbait. Which is fine. That’s the business. Listen, I have a deep respect for real journalism. I love Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi and people who stick their neck out and do real journalism. But there’s a lot of people out there that have to make a f***** living. And what’s the best way to make a living? Here’s one way, take a jackass like me, go over their podcast. Go over this three-hour drunken, ridiculous podcast.’
He said, “Usually we’re drinking or we’re high. And I say stupid s***. I get it. And if you mine that and you make money off of that. More power to you. I don’t care. I’m happy for you. Just don’t lie. Get a little clickbaity, we’re good.”