The intelligentsia have commenced a campaign of defamation targeting Joe Rogan, who has dared to question the urgency and the necessity of coronavirus vaccination for the young and the healthy. The response from the establishment media has been predictably indignant, and we may, too, have expected the universality of that response: in the course of the past week, almost every mainstream media outlet has condemned him. Any time we witness this coordinated, synchronized assault on an individual, we should feel some measure of obligation to condemn it, if only for its unnatural nature. This was true when Suzie Dawson and Action 4 Assange slandered me, and it is every bit as true in this case, because Rogan said nothing factually mistaken or morally misguided to justify this intensity of opprobrium.
I had been planning to write in defense of Rogan since Thursday, the twenty-ninth of April, when three random doctors co-wrote a massive op-ed for NBC News in which, of course, they accused Rogan of peddling “misinformation”. This perfectly meaningless and ambiguous term has become in recent years a fashionable charge weaponized by the autocrats and the pseudointellectuals who do their bidding. In short, anything that challenges the dogmatic propaganda of the neoliberal elite can and must be denigrated as misinformation, whether it be criticism of the Democratic National Committee’s indisputable corruption or honest questions about the efficacy of an authoritarian and totalitarian response to a viral outbreak. While the ruling class formerly tolerated mere differences of opinion, they have been waging war on intellectual independence for the past several years, as the instability of their empire has become quite apparent to anyone who has been paying attention.
Consider the aforementioned NBC News piece. We might ask ourselves how this media company found three doctors employed by three different institutions who were prepared to collaborate on an extensive article within a few hours of the release of Rogan’s podcast; this details the unnatural element of these interinstitutional campaigns, and the delivery of propaganda in general. Another recent example of this would be the artificial controversy surrounding Michael Che’s purportedly antisemitic comments on Saturday Night Live. In the case of this article, the unanimity is intended to coerce the reader’s submission: if not one, not two, but three doctors express literally the same contemptuous opinion of Joe Rogan, then they must have the facts on their side. Of course, this is nothing more than the classic logical fallacy of appealing to the majority, which has been posited as a virtue in the modern day. We pursue homogeneity of thought because we have been taught to fear something untrustworthy in the realm of intellectual independence.
In this instance, intellectual independence is depicted as an affrontery not only to the masses, but to the “experts”. An appeal to authority, be it intellectual or legal, is a classic logical fallacy, too, but this has been reinterpreted as a public safety measure in the time of the pandemic. We are told to trust the authors of this article because they are doctors and professors employed by prestigious hospitals and universities—and, of course, because they are writing for NBC News, which is one of the most powerful media companies in the entire world. None of this redounds to the credibility, much less the integrity, of anyone involved in the production of the piece, yet we have become so inundated with the propaganda of the establishment in the course of the past several years that we may well accept this untenable proposition as if it were incontestable fact.
Conversely, they disparage Rogan because he is not a member of the omnipresent establishment. Note this condescending statement from the beginning of the doctors’ article: “Enter comedian and self-styled thought leader Joe Rogan, who, honestly, nobody asked but has nonetheless weighed in with harmful and misinformed opinions about whether young people should be vaccinated against Covid-19.” The demonstrably false and patently irrelevant claim that “nobody asked” Rogan for his perspective suggests the snide snobbery of the schoolyard: the posh and the highfalutin reassure themselves that none of the cool kids care about what Rogan has to say. If the inverted implication is that somebody asked these three doctors for their informed and unharmful opinions, then we must be meant to conclude that NBC News—a legitimate “thought leader”, as opposed to one merely “self-styled”—must have made the request, thereby making it legitimate, too.
An interesting contradiction emerges: if Rogan is, in fact, an insignificant cultural afterthought, as the suggestion that “nobody asked” for his judgement implies, then why does his judgement merit such exhaustive scrutiny from each of the world’s most influential media conglomerates? I did not search the Internet for commentary on this so-called controversy, but quite incidentally came upon three separate maledictions against Mr. Rogan, one in CNN and one on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver in addition to the NBC News piece currently under discussion. The bourgeois masses, undiscriminating in their consumption of digital media, receive this information and arrive at the inchoate but impassioned conclusion that Joe Rogan presents a serious danger to public welfare—which, if true, means that somebody certainly did ask Rogan for his opinion, and that his opinion resonates with a critical percentage of the population.
If we pursue this train of thought even further, then we realize that there must be some danger that Rogan’s opinion surpasses the opinion of the doctors who wrote this article for NBC News, or that of the writers for CNN, or that of the writers for Last Week Tonight. In what regard does it surpass each of them? In regard to its impact upon popular thought, which is very different from what the establishment media presents as “mainstream opinion”. For myriad reasons, a considerable number of people refuse to accept mass media conglomerates like NBC News and CNN as trustworthy and well-intended intellectual authorities, and some of that number of people prefer commentators like Joe Rogan. Ergo, he is a business competitor to these larger outlets, and he must be treated as such, even if he wasn’t questioning the official narrative of the establishment press.
He is questioning the official narrative, though, and his iconoclasm feeds the flames of fury rising from the screen of the NBC homepage. The establishment has become so intolerant of intellectual independence that it believes it must embark on a fully spirited crusade against every independent pundit, even if the spectacle is completely undignified, as it is in the present instance. Fortunately, the absurd and impractical reach of this gesture provides us with an opportunity, for there are some bourgeois consumers who enjoy Rogan’s podcast, and some of them will be puzzled by the drastic measures that the mainstream media is taking to demonize his program in the mind of the masses. Some of them will accept the push and cancel their subscriptions to Rogan’s channel, but some of them will push back and turn away from the establishment in favor of more skeptical content. This is the beginning of the process of unplugging from the Matrix, and if the establishment continues its pursuit of ruthless control, then eventually even the slightest deviation from the official narrative will obtain revolutionary potential.