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Joe Rogan con-troversy is about an envy deeper than money

By Matthew Delaney

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV. 

The hit job on Joe Rogan’s reputation over the past few weeks is as dirty as it gets. But while it’s viewed as financially motivated more than anything, I can’t help but get a whiff of desperation from the attack. It’s almost like our woke overlords are scared their cultural empire will fall. 

Rogan’s podcast had become a target for spreading “misinformation” about the Covid-19 pandemic for nearly a year. When Rogan slapped back at the evolving definition of misinformation, he seemed to have shooed away an antagonistic media and their impulse to cancel. That was until a compilation of him saying the N-word was allegedly released by a Democratic Super PAC. 

Rogan, being a decent guy, apologized for the language. Spotify, the streaming platform that distributes the podcast, stood by him. Life has largely moved on (much to some CNN anchors dismay) because we see this only through the lens of market competition. 

Rogan is infinitely more popular than corporate media and threatens their business model. They tried to throw Rogan off Spotify so people would have no choice but to tune back into them. 

That alone is enough reason to declare this a con-troversy — using the altruism of stopping “misinformation” as a big con to secure profits. But if we zoom out, we see Rogan as a trusted voice of dissent to the prevailing authority. Basically, he’s everything the media tells itself it is. Except he’s a parallel institution to journalism, and arguably more influential.  

Look at the ground Rogan’s made against the establishment driven Covid hysteria in the past 10 months.  

He said healthy 21-year-olds don’t need to get vaccinated last spring. By September, a UK study found that unvaccinated 20-somethings have the same death rate as vaccinated 40-somethings, both of which are 0.4 per 100,000 people

He hosted a guest who talked about the benefits of ivermectin for combatting symptomatic Covid cases. Then, he used the treatment effectively when he contracted Covid. 

He also gave a platform to doctors who spoke about under-reported side effects of the vaccine, and was the de facto PR guy for a (tame) anti-mandate march in Washington, D.C. 

Rogan might not have a team of health experts and scientists to fact check his claims like Brian Stelter wants him to, but the space he creates to talk authentically outweighs his own label as a “moron.” His show is an anchor to reality for those made to feel invisible by the pandemic’s accepted narrative. Often, Rogan ends up in the right direction while the corporate media merely follow the political mood of Democrats too much for any honest person’s liking.  

To use a favorite phrase of our media, Rogan has actually “spoken truth to power.” The media can’t help but be jealous of that because, deep down, they know they abandoned that principle for a paycheck. 

The envy has a third and final layer behind it as well: a philosophical envy. 

I don’t think Rogan has been some ideologue for populist dissent, but I do think he’s been a force in normalizing dissent. Much like how Donald Trump exposed how dramatized and manipulative PC culture is, or how Dave Portnoy exposed snaky journalists (like he did on Rogan’s behalf by confronting the PAC who made his N word compilation). 

They’ve all worked to show that the woke left running our institutions use anti-whatever’s-convenient to launder subservience into the public consciousness. These “emperor has no clothes” moments have caused the woke left — and the regular people who just treated wokeness as the way things are — to lose confidence in those beliefs.  

It’s nice to see there’s backbone in the symbols of our little coalition loosely made up of parents, working class Joe’s, disenchanted liberals, and Frogtwitter (to name very few). There is also danger with having Rogan — and Trump and Portnoy — as the symbols of this coalition. Their behaviors make the line between rebellious and juvenile thinner than it needs to be. It also lends them (and us) to be perceived as irresponsible. 

The woke envy our potential, especially because the pandemic revealed the limit on theirs. That’s why we need to take advantage of the current armistice and develop an idea that counters wokeness. Because I wouldn’t count on this as a death blow to their movement.  

An independent writer named N.S. Lyons penned a long essay laying out how the celebrations over beating back the Woke Revolution are premature. While many of us (myself included) felt that the victory lap began with Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial win in Virginia last November, Lyons cautions that the woke are here to stay for a variety of reasons. 

Civil Rights laws have broadened the definition of discrimination and made money-sensitive corporations obedient to diet-woke HR departments. An elite ecosystem of colleges and high-profile jobs have tied upward mobility to ideological loyalty while also creating cottage industries that embed that ideology in the workplace (Chief Diversity Officers, for instance). Nearly three generations of people have had such a gaping, God-shaped hole in their hearts that they’ve made a religion around exterminating America’s foundational sin of racism. 

Lyons is right to say that winning a few elections won’t change the fact that the woke run our society’s machinery. They also possess a moral vision about how the world should operate. This gives them a framework to discuss their ideas not matched by our core belief of “Just leave us alone.”   

However, the one thing Lyons’ analysis assumes is that the woke won’t go away as long as present trends continue. Present trends are already changing. Part of the intense reaction from truckers and others alike is that of scorn. The government was trusted to handle this pandemic, and the government aggressively betrayed that trust — whether it was allowing mass riots when businesses were shut down, keeping schools closed and kids masked long after both were known to be damaging, flouting their very own restrictions, or telling you there won’t be a vaccine mandate then trying to get you fired for not taking the shot. 

The betrayal has animated us much in the same way the Vietnam War, Civil Rights movement, and an overbearing conservative-Christian culture animated the woke ancestors of today in the early 1970s. They see in us what they once were, and they notice the seeds of a movement that could overtake their cultural hegemony.  

Media con-troversies are a spike trap to slow our growth while the woke regroup. However, the main obstacle to realizing our potential would be to not think about what we stand for. We know we want to honor the freedom of individuals, while also not letting that freedom run amok by reconfiguring hard truths on the differences in the sexes or the value of merit. 

Guys like Joe Rogan and others have created the refuge for us to have those conversations and workshop the ideas that can guide us beyond wokeness. We shouldn’t waste that. We know the woke wouldn’t.

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Matthew Delaney


Matthew Delaney is a local journalist based in Washington, D.C. When he’s not questioning why he joined the media, he’s doing his part to restore some of its credibility with quality work

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