Earlier this week, Joe Rogan was roundly criticized for telling healthy young people to not get vaccinated against COVID-19, remarking on an episode of his popular podcast, “If you’re like 21 years old, and you say to me, should I get vaccinated? I go no.” Now, via The Hollywood Reporter, he’s walking back those statements, saying on the latest edition of The Joe Rogan Experience that it “makes sense” to get vaccinated to protect other people.
It wasn’t quite an unequivocal apology; Rogan spent some time attacking the “click bait” instincts of the media, and questioned why anyone would listen to him in the first place. “I am not a doctor,” he said. “I am a fucking moron. I am a cage-fighting commentator … I am not a respected source of information even for me.”
But whether he likes it or not, Rogan is highly influential in certain circles. He has the most popular podcast on Spotify and one of the most listened-to broadcasts in the world, which is one of the reasons Spotify offered him a $100 million exclusive contract.
Members of the press aren’t the only ones who think Rogan’s words carry weight. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s foremost expert on infectious diseases, felt Rogan’s statement was worrisome enough to deserve a direct response. On Wednesday, he said, “So if you want to only worry about yourself and not society, then that’s OK,” Fauci said. “But if you’re saying to yourself, ‘Even if I get infected, I could do damage to someone else even if I don’t have any symptoms at all,’ that’s the reason you have to be careful and get vaccinated.”
Now, Rogan has updated his position. “I am not an anti-vaxx person,” he said. “In fact, I said I believe they are safe and I encourage many people to take them. I just said if you’re a young healthy person, you don’t need it. Their argument was you need it for other people. But that’s a different conversation. And yes, that makes sense.”
Not quite a ringing endorsement, but it’s better than nothing. For now, the rest of us can all go back to pretending he doesn’t exist — at least until the next time he uses his massive platform to say something harmful or stupid. This episode is a good example of why legendary producer Steve Albini referred to The Joe Rogan Experience as “trash garbage.”