The Biden administration considered embedding a “trusted messenger” on Joe Rogan’s podcast to promote Covid-19 vaccines.
According to documents obtained by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) planned to use various “earned media” sources to encourage hesitant demographics to get vaccinated. This included the UFC commentator’s popular show The Joe Rogan Experience.
A public education campaign plan dated April 19 to May 31, 2021 suggested the agency should consider placing a “trusted messenger on the Joe Rogan Show and Barstool Sports to promote vaccination (work with outside expert to identify who will be most effective).”
Other suggestions included requesting that “major live TV entertainment shows feature hosts being vaccinated on air” and “vaccination specials with BET. The Undefeated. Desus & Mero, Sneaker Shopper. Hot Ones.”
While both the Biden and Trump administrations have worked with celebrities and notable figures to spread awareness about Covid-19, the decision to consider Rogan is interesting given that the podcast contributed to COVID-19 misinformation on numerous occasions.
In April 2021, Rogan told his millions of listeners that young, healthy people do not need the COVID-19 vaccine. He walked back his comments the following week, insisting “I’m not a doctor, I’m a fucking moron and I’m a cage fighting commentator who’s a dirty standup comedian who just told you I’m drunk most of the time and I do testosterone and I smoke a lot of weed.”
Rogan also hosted the likes of Dr. Robert Malone, a virologist known for spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine as well as an unfounded theory that government leaders have hypnotized the public, on his show. The aforementioned appearance led to hundreds of doctors and medical professionals signed an open letter condemning Rogan for “spreading vaccine hesitancy” and calling on Spotify to take action against “mass misinformation” on his show.