“Pod Save America” hosts Jon Favreau and Jon Lovett discussed how Americans are flocking to podcaster Joe Rogan because of a severe distrust in mainstream media outlets.
During Tuesday’s episode, titled “Fine, we’ll talk about Joe Rogan,” the liberal hosts broke down the latest on Rogan’s relationship with Spotify. Rogan’s critics have called for Spotify to remove Rogan’s podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” from the platform, because they say he has been guilty of spreading COVID-19 misinformation. A recently surfaced video of Rogan using the “n-word” has only bolstered those demands. In a letter to employees this week, Spotify CEO apologized for Rogan’s behavior, but said the company would not be “silencing” him.
NPR journalist Sam Sanders said the reason for Rogan’s success and huge fan base was because “so many Americans increasingly don’t trust actual news outlets.”
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Sanders cited a Pew Research Center poll that found trust in media was declining. “In that context, of course, a Joe Rogan succeeds,” he said.
“Instead of national news organizations like mine and others having a conversation about how we rebuild trust, we got to talk about the saga of Jeff Zucker,” Sanders continued. He also said that Rogan, with the large platform that he has, needs to “do better.”
“F–k Joe Rogan, forget about Joe Rogan. It’s not about him, it’s not about Spotify,” Favreau said. “It is about who is that misinformation reaching, and how do we fight that? We are in a fight to persuade people.”
Lovett said that the studies finding that Americans don’t trust national news outlets is “absolutely true.”
“By definition if you have 70% of people saying they mistrust mainstream news, a lot of those people are distrusting something they are not consuming,” he continued. “The biggest divide in this country is between people who are engaged and following and paying attention to the news and the tens of millions of people, the majority of the country, who are not.”
Lovett said Joe Rogan has likely captured a lot of people in the majority.
Sanders noted that he wants Rogan to do “a little bit better” and said national news outlets need to do a better job of appealing to people.
“I know that for a long time, especially during the pandemic, it became hard to listen to or watch or read most mainstream national news,” he said.
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Many critics of the mainstream media have argued that prevailing liberal bias is what has largely turned off consumers. But Sanders first suggested it was the “depressing” nature of the news that has done the most damage.
“Because the spirit behind every headline and every story was like ‘aren’t you panicked, aren’t you worried, you’re going to die, this is bad,” he said, adding that most coverage nowadays is “anxiety inducing and negative.”
“So much of the media…it feeds you anxiety and it’s treating politics like a game and a sport,” Favreau said.
“It makes you nervous,” Sanders agreed. Both Favreau and Sanders suggested Rogan wasn’t similarly scaring off his audiences.
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“If there is a way to make national news appeal to more people and depress them less, I think we should do that,” Sanders continued.
Singer India Arie compiled a video that showed Rogan saying the “n-word” several times in past episodes that aired between 2009 and 2018. Seventy episodes of the podcast were taken down and Rogan apologized for his actions on Instagram Friday.