Comedian and podcast host Joe Rogan reaches 7.3 million people via his YouTube channel alone. But is his messaging one that Bernie Sanders’ supporters can get behind?
Rogan, whose podcast The Joe Rogan Experience is among the top-downloaded each week on Apple Podcasts, has been criticized as deeply divisive. On Thursday, the Sanders campaign got a taste of just how radioactive Rogan might be when it cut a video of him endorsing Sanders and released it across the Vermont senator’s social media accounts.
“I think I'll probably vote for Bernie… He’s been insanely consistent his entire life. He’s basically been saying the same thing, been for the same thing his whole life. And that in and of itself is a very powerful structure to operate from.” -Joe Rogan pic.twitter.com/fuQP0KwGGI
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 23, 2020
“I think I’ll probably vote for Bernie,” Rogan says. “Him as a human being … I believe in him, I like him a lot. … He’s been insanely consistent his entire life. He’s basically been saying the same thing, been for the same thing his whole life.”
For LGBTQ people, the endorsement may prove particularly troublesome. Rogan went on a series of deeply transphobic tears in the past, repeatedly calling transgender women men.
I'm 100% in favor of transgender people, but to pretend that a male frame and a female frame are the same is insane. If a woman knows (2)
— Joe Rogan (@joerogan) November 9, 2014
In 2013, Bleacher Report noted that Rogan did not believe that transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox was a woman.
“And, uh, she, um…she used to be a man but now she has had, she’s a transgender which is [the] official term that means you’ve gone through it, right? And she wants to be able to fight women in MMA. I say no f*cking way.
I say if you had a dick at one point in time, you also have all the bone structure that comes with having a dick. You have bigger hands, you have bigger shoulder joints. You’re a f*cking man. That’s a man, okay? You can’t have…that’s…I don’t care if you don’t have a dick anymore.”
He reiterated in 2014 that transgender people should not participate in sports, citing an unnamed study in which trans high schoolers who were participating in athletics were dominating.
“The only time it matters with me is with sports,” Rogan said. “Just stop with that. Just stop with that and we’re going to be fine.”
More recently, in 2017, Rogan again weighed in on trans people with Daily Wire editor and fierce conservative Ben Shapiro, who’s widely shared his anti-trans sentiments.
When talking about Caitlyn Jenner, Rogan said, “Notice I’m saying ‘she.’ I’m being politically correct.”
Rogan then went on to refer to the push for transgender equality as “compulsory” and “rabid.” He has also mocked gender-neutral pronouns.
Those comments stand in stark contrast to Sanders’ record on LGBTQ rights, and his early support of the queer movement.
Sanders called for abolishing anti-homosexuality laws just few years after Stonewall. Always part of his discourse. pic.twitter.com/TxfP0xSi7T
— Taniel (@Taniel) October 5, 2015
Sanders’ platform calls for an end to anti-trans discrimination in employment and the military. For that reason alone, many Sanders supporters were left wondering why the senator was touting Rogan’s endorsement.
Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David blasted the endorsement in a statement to media and called on Sanders to distance himself from Rogan.
“In 2019, 25 transgender people were killed because of the type of transphobia that Rogan stokes,” David said.
Bernie’s campaign cutting a campaign ad with Joe Rogan fucking sucks. Rogan is an incredibly influential bigot and Democrats should be marginalizing him.
— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) January 24, 2020
The Sanders campaign did not respond to NewNowNext’s request for comment.
This story has been updated with a statement from the Human Rights Campaign.