Everyone can share an opinion, but Joe Rogan doesn’t deserve to be heard

Michael Sicoli, Editor-in-Chief

Illustration by Xavier Cullen

It is remarkable how easy it is to turn the truth off like the faucet in your bathroom. Election results and vaccine science are easy examples of topics where this happens. But nowhere is this concept more centralized than in the political talk show realm.

The last few years have been turbulent for a number of reasons, but the spread of misinformation is front and center. The growth of social media has allowed everyone to have a platform to share their opinion. While that might sound like an ideal democracy, in truth, not everyone deserves to speak their mind.

When the wrong people are handed the microphone, horrific events tend to follow. The rallying cry of Donald Trump contributed to right-wing extremists sieging the U.S. Capitol a year ago. Meanwhile, more people died of COVID-19 in 2021 than in 2020, exemplifying the embarrassing handling of a pandemic that still persists today.

Children are still being killed in our schools, America’s national debt has hit an all-time high and people are flooding the border at record numbers. Regardless of how you view immigration, it represents a huge systemic flaw of the current process.

This great country is yet again facing a number of issues, with solutions stuck in political gridlock. What hurts most of all is that the public has absolutely no idea how to properly view these issues.

Well, maybe you, reader, have a clue. But everyone else has as much sense as giving a monkey a chainsaw.

That’s how it feels for each of us as we scroll through Twitter timelines and Google searches. A big reason for that is the power someone with large platforms can hold.

Podcaster Joe Rogan is just a guy with a microphone. He has plenty of basis to talk about MMA, and his Netflix comedy specials can be pretty funny. But when it comes to vaccines, political commentary, or anything that remotely impacts peoples’ daily lives, his words should carry no weight.

But that’s not the world we live in. Cult followers run rampant for these talk show hosts. Rogan said racial slurs dozens of times on his podcasts before Spotify removed them. He shared and spread misinformation on COVID-19, such as supporting ivermectin as a treatment option, a drug used to treat parasitic diseases, not a virus.

Rogan defended his points by clarifying that he’s not a doctor and that he’s just asking the questions. But those questions have answers, easily found with Google, that Rogan is simply too lazy to search. If he doesn’t feel like researching it, the average listener cannot be expected to.

It goes beyond funny podcast moments when those same points are utilized in an argument. The average person loves to hate on the national media — which deserves criticism for the partisan ways news is covered — but these independent airheads are no better.

You can just as easily swap Rogan with Dave Portnoy. Or Rachel Maddow. Or Alex Jones. Each sprinkles fake and speculative storylines like pieces of cheese leading to a mousetrap. People eat it up with little thought of the consequences.

Portnoy has been slapped with numerous rape allegations, but Barstool’s culture of macho-misogyny laughs it off. Jones is ridiculed and laughed at for spreading Sandy Hook conspiracies, but there are still plenty who take his word as gospel. Maddow, despite her prominent news-desk platform, is not a journalist.

Maddow’s late night show isn’t an extension of the news team despite appearances. A 2021 court decision ruled in a defamation lawsuit against Maddow that her show is built upon “exaggeration” that is not meant to inform.

However, she spent night after night hyperbolizing the Muller investigation of Trump. She continued to bolster her sky-high ratings with sensationalism on a show that, according to those court documents, should not be taken seriously. But not everyone knows that, there is no obvious marker that Maddow is a talking head.

Problems persist in America for too many reasons to count. You can’t throw all the blame on political commentators. But those figures hold ridiculous power over the masses, particularly when you consider how much trust news organizations have lost over the last decade.

The Trump presidential campaign that spewed “fake news” at everything helped create the world we live in today. A world where people like Rogan have the power they do because conventional outlets have failed or appear too corporate. In reality, these people are just as crooked as the bunch, they only avoid the blame because they’re commentators and not journalists.

However, they do the same job. People like Rogan fill the same void people like myself are trying to fill, except they plug it with irresponsible content. It is common in news organizations to double and triple-check sources — something Rogan never did and contributed to his downfall. His lack of training makes his platform a cesspool for the same fake news he says he wants to counter.

Quinnipiac University professors preach journalistic integrity upon their students in every class. There’s even a senior seminar that revolves around journalism ethics. Understanding how to report in a responsible way is something that takes time and effort. It prioritizes the process of doing the right thing while walking the tightrope of external and internal pressure.

But money talks louder than principles. People tune in to hear political talk from an everyday person who is raking in millions of dollars to continue clowning the airwaves.

It’s a tough trend to break because of how much faith the people have lost in journalistic pillars. You might even be reading this thinking, “Ugh, The Quinnipiac Chronicle. Time to add another one to the ‘do-not-read’ list.”

Do what you want. But I urge you to read and consume different types of media from each side of the aisle from people who are journalists, not commentators. Appreciate the diligence and fact-checking that goes into reporting, and avoid those who have no training to say the things they say.

It’s like high school. The popular clique isn’t always the one you should be around. Go find one of the millions of reporters who are striving to rebuild journalism’s image while outside forces strive to tear it down.