Podcast host Joe Rogan has faced criticism in recent weeks for his show, “Joe Rogan Experience,” and its amplification of COVID-19 misinformation, first from an open letter signed by doctors and then from musicians including Neil Young who pulled his music from Spotify in protest of the platform’s agreement with Rogan.
Rogan is under fire for interviewing guests who have voiced skepticism toward COVID-19 vaccines and promoted unfounded conspiracy theories or unproven medical treatments discouraged by doctors.
But a video shared more than 25,000 times on TikTok that also circulated widely on Twitter claims Joe Rogan expressed support for the use of vaccines at the beginning of the pandemic in terms that seem to contradict his current stance on the issue.
Did Joe Rogan make pro-vaccine comments in a 2020 episode of his podcast?
Yes, Joe Rogan made pro-vaccine comments in a 2020 episode of his podcast.
WHAT WE FOUND
By comparing clips in the viral TikTok video to video and audio from the official “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, we found that Joe Rogan did express support for the “value of vaccines” in a 2020 episode of his show.
The episode in question, labeled show 1439, aired on March 10, 2020 and featured guest Michael Osterholm, PhD.
The viral TikTok shows this quote from Rogan:
“I hope this wakes people up to the value of vaccines, too. There are so many whackos out there that think that vaccines are a scam, or they’re dangerous. There’s so many people out there that won’t vaccinate their children.”
The TikTok shows a second quote from Rogan, who says:
“So many people are paranoid and delusional and they want it all to be a conspiracy. There’s been an amazing medical innovation in human culture and that’s vaccines. It’s amazing what it’s done and have there been adverse effects on people? Of course. Everything that people do there’s some people that are going to react in a bad way. It doesn’t mean it’s not a positive thing.”
That matches audio and video from the full episodes at time codes 57:50-58:13.
The original poster of the TikTok who goes by the username @mdg650hawk4.0 said the footage he used for the clip was from Twitter, but told VERIFY the clips match the “entire 90 minute video” posted on YouTube.
Rogan’s comments shown in the clip are in response to statements made by Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota and a former COVID-19 advisor to President Joe Biden.
A spokesperson for CIDRAP confirmed to VERIFY that Osterholm appeared on the March 10, 2020 show.
Rogan promoted Osterholm’s “Joe Rogan Experience” appearance in a Facebook post shared the same day. Osterholm was discussing his book, “Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs” and highlighted the lifesaving capabilities of vaccines in his interview.
Throughout the episode, Rogan expresses additional support for vaccination, saying, “When [illness] can be prevented and the reason why people don't do it is because they're paranoid of vaccines and they get that information from some whacko website or some person who really has no business talking to about it.”
He later responded to that criticism saying he’s “not an anti-vax person,” but repeated his claim that “young, healthy people” don’t need the vaccine for their own health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone ages 5 and older get vaccinated against COVID-19. COVID vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective at preventing illness and death, according to medical institutions like the World Health Organization and the CDC.
VERIFY reached out to Joe Rogan for comment but did not receive a response.