Three Years Into the Pandemic, Joe Rogan Is Still Spreading COVID-19 Misinformation

Rogan was forced to apologize and remove a podcast segment centered around a fake tweet about the vaccine

Joe Rogan walks inside the Octagon during the UFC 282 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Joe Rogan walks inside the Octagon during the UFC 282 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Zuffa LLC

On Thursday, Joe Rogan was forced to pull part of an episode of his podcast and apologize after he spent 11 minutes of the show discussing a tweet about the COVID-19 vaccine that turned out to be fake.

The tweet, which was falsely attributed to Dr. Natalia Solenkova, an intensive care doctor based in Florida, read, “I will never regret the vaccine. Even if it turns out I injected actual poison and have only days to live. My heart was and is in the right place. I got vaccinated out of love, while antivaxxers did everything out of hate. If I have to die because of my love for the world, then so be it. But I will never regret or apologize for it.”

If you’re currently thinking to yourself, “Wait a minute, that’s definitely more than 280 characters and therefore too long to be a tweet,” congratulations! You’re smarter than literally everyone who works for Joe Rogan, apparently. Rogan and his guest Bret Weinstein — a biology professor turned COVID-19 vaccine skeptic — pounced on the fake tweet during Wednesday’s podcast.

“It’s also a fascinating perspective that this person claims to be about love, but has the most uncharitable view of people who didn’t get vaccinated,” Rogan said. “That everyone got anti-vaxx out of hate. The idea that I didn’t get vaccinated out of hate, I find so ridiculous. Like, I don’t hate anyone. I am a loving person. I do it on purpose. I go outta my way to be as charitable and as kind as possible.”

The next day, however, he was forced to change his tune, tweeting an apology and announcing the segment would be removed.

“I was informed last night that this tweet is fake,” he wrote. “The show was already out, so we initially decided to post a notice saying we got tricked, then later thought it best to just delete it from the episode. My sincere apologies to everyone, especially the person who got hoaxed.”

Weinstein also weighed in, tweeting, “JRE #1919 will be taken down temporarily by Joe’s team to address something we discovered after its release. A tweet we discussed turns out not to be authentic, and there’s no way to preserve that part while protecting the person who was being impersonated. #1919 will return soon.” (The episode is currently live on Spotify with the segment about the tweet removed.) 

It’s good that they eventually did the right thing and removed the segment, of course, but it never should have gone up in the first place. This wasn’t just an honest mistake; the tweet’s date was formatted incorrectly, and it was over the character limit allowed by Twitter. Anyone with a basic understanding of the social media app should have been able to look at it and instantly tell it was Photoshopped. It’s just the latest example of Rogan pushing his anti-vax agenda on his podcast with zero regards for the actual facts. Even if he genuinely believed the tweet to be legit, there needs to be some sort of fact-checking process in place to prevent mistakes like this from happening. And in this case, it has harmed an innocent person: According to Vice, Dr. Solenkova is still “facing a deluge of harassment” on social media about the tweet and has made her account private.

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