Joe Rogan issued a rare public apology on Friday for sharing misinformation about the wildfires in California on his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan had reiterated a false report from Fox News, which stated that Black Lives Matter protesters were intentionally setting the wildfires. Answering for this misstep on Friday, Rogan tweeted: "I f—ed up."
"They've arrested left-wing people for lighting these forest fires," Rogan said incorrectly on Thursday's podcast. "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." This narrative was promoted most notably by Fox News host Laura Ingraham, but it has now been reliably debunked by both local law enforcement and the FBI, according to a report by The Washington Post.
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"That turns out to not be true. I was very irresponsible not looking into it before I repeated it," Rogan tweeted. "I read one story about a guy getting arrested for lighting fires turned out to be true, but the others — i read about people getting arrested for lighting fires in Portland was not true. I repeated it without looking into it and it was a really f—ing stupid mistake that won't happen again. I'm sorry."
This is just the latest in a growing number of cases where Rogan's influence stretches beyond the purview of his mission as a podcast host. A comedian and actor, Rogan is best-known to many for TV shows like New Radio and Fear Factor, but these days he has legions of die-hard followers on his podcast. There, he dispenses news, political commentary and philosophical musings with no formal checks and balances.
Countless think-pieces have now been dedicated to dissecting Rogan's growing influence over the last few years, and his listeners are becoming a demographic of their own. Rogan famously endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders early in the 2020 presidential election, but then shocked followers not long afterward by saying that his second choice to Sanders would be current President Donald Trump.
Joe Rogan lies to his millions of listeners that left-wing activists are starting forest fires in Oregon. This dangerous claim has been completely debunked. pic.twitter.com/qbNK9GQB9h— Alex Paterson (@AlexPattyy) September 17, 2020
Rogan has continued to speak out against Democratic nominee Joe Biden since then, and Trump has taken note. In recent weeks, Trump has posted clips from Rogan's podcast out of context, making them look like endorsements when in fact Rogan attacks Trump as much as he attacks Biden.
For every fan that discovers this context, there are others that will not. More and more people are calling on Rogan to change his approach to podcasting in recognition of his immense influence on the American political arena.