Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Joe Rogan apologizes for peddling false claim about antifa starting wildfires: "I fucked up"

Oopsie!
Oopsie!
Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice (Getty Images)

Every now and then I recall the bliss of watching NewsRadio as a pre-teen, laughing through Doritos and oblivious to the fact that I’d one day have to reckon with Phil Hartman’s horrible death, Dave Foley’s depressing marital struggles, and Joe Rogan being a chaotic neutral force in the most high-stakes presidential election of my lifetime. He was funny as the handyman. Now his presidential endorsement matters more than that of any newspaper. What world is this?

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As host of The Joe Rogan Experience, the actor and comic has amassed a massive, passionate fanbase by interviewing a wide range of celebrities, scientists, politicians, athletes, and deranged, racist lunatics. It’s the latter folks that stick in his critics’ craws, though their stink didn’t stop Spotify from spending a reported six figures on the exclusive rights to the podcast. The ensuing controversy did, however, stop them from migrating Rogan’s entire catalog onto their platform. As we previously reported, episodes featuring interviews with hate-filled goons like Alex Jones, Gavin McInnes, and Milo Yiannopoulos aren’t accessible via Spotify.

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Rogan, however, doesn’t explicitly align with any particular political party. He endorsed Bernie Sanders during the primaries (leading to heated arguments over Sanders’ embrace of the endorsement given Rogan’s spotty history). But, no matter how open-minded you purport to be, if you hang around enough misinformation peddlers, you’re probably going to start peddling some misinformation. And that’s exactly what happened during an episode released on Thursday, when he regurgitated the debunked theory that antifa protestors are responsible for the wildfires tearing up the West Coast, a favorite topic of Fox News ghoul Laura Ingraham.

“They’ve arrested left-wing people for lighting these forest fires,” he said. “You know, air-quote, ‘activists.’ This is also something that’s not widely being reported, you know, that people have actually been arrested for lighting fires up there.”

As the Washington Post reports, this claim has been debunked by both the FBI and local law enforcement in Oregon, who are begging these conspiracy dipshits to stop making their jobs harder with their sweaty vigilante tactics.

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Anyways, Rogan took to Twitter to apologize today, admitting that he “fucked up” and was “very irresponsible not looking into it before I repeated it.” See his full apology below.

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Good on him for apologizing, but it’ll mean a lot more if he doubles down on it on his next episode—a lot more people listen to his podcast than read his Twitter. Is this a depressing reality we’re living in? Absolutely, but, as a number of very smart people have asserted time and again, Rogan’s political influence is undeniably real. Let’s hope he stops getting his news from The Gorilla Patriot Times or whatever the hell he’s reading.

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Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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