Joe Rogan is without question the biggest and most influential podcaster on the planet. So big that Spotify paid him $100 million dollars to distribute his show exclusively on their platform.

Despite this (or maybe because if it), the mainstream media and Twitter users at large seem to consistently hate and criticise him. You only need to look at replies on the below Bernie Sanders tweet – where Bernie shared a video of Joe Rogan endorsing him – to see people have disdain for Joe Rogan. Countless Bernie Sanders fans said they’d no longer support his campaign after the tweet.

To put Joe Rogan’s reach and influence in perspective, consider the interview he had with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden which gained over 21 million views on YouTube alone. Compare that to the top-rated cable news programs on Fox News shows, which average between 4 to 5 million viewers on any given night, or one-fourth the number of views Rogan’s discussion with Snowden generated.

Joe Rogan’s reach and influence is unmatched by traditional media, he gets the biggest names on the planet from all walks of life (Elon Musk, Kanye West, Tulsi Gabbard, Mike Tyson, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Miley Cyrus, Bernie Sanders and Alex Jones) and has the reach and numbers mainstream media would kill for.

One of Joe Rogan’s best qualities is that he understands that as an interviewer, you ask questions, you don’t force your ideology onto people. We’ve seen too many interviewers of late try and coax their interviewees into supporting their own opinions. Rogan runs with the best when it comes to holding incisive conversations and ensuring the spotlight is well and truly on the interviewee.

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Joe Rogan is first and foremost a left wing liberal

To quote Joe Rogan directly, “I’ve never voted right wing in my life.” He is by almost all measures politically left-leaning.

As outlined in the short video below, Joe Rogan is unwaveringly on most left wing issues; he is pro women’s rights, pro-LGBT rights and is very liberal when it comes to economic policy.

The narrative on social media that Joe Rogan is somehow alt right is a gross miss representation of who he is as a person.

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Why people hate Joe Rogan

The objections typically raised against Joe Rogan are the following;

  • Joe Rogan has been accused of transphobia for debating whether it is fair for trans women to compete against cis women in professional sports.
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  • In contrast to hosting inspiring liberal leaders like Bernie Sanders, he also has hosted far right personalities like Ben Shapiro and Alex Jones. These right wing guests in particular cause huge controversy for Spotify staff.

“If you’re like 21 years old and you say to me, ‘Should I get vaccinated?’ I’ll go, ‘No,'” said Rogan. “If you’re a healthy person and you’re exercising all the time and you’re young and you’re eating well, I don’t think you need to worry about this.”

I’m not going to attempt to defend some of Joe Rogan’s opinions or guests. There are a lot of views Joe Rogan holds which I disagree agree with, however defending and loving the podcast does not mean defending and loving all of Joe Rogan’s views.

Why I personally love the Joe Rogan podcast

I work in the music and media industry dominated by left ideology, and I go to church and play sport on the weekends with some folk that are firmly right wing conservatives.

It means whether I’m at work or play, I’m either too far left or too far right for whoever I’m talking to – and in a world where everyone is so charged emotionally, it could be unmanageable if I wasn’t blessed with such open minded friends on both sides of the political landscape. The truth is I sit to the left of centre, and when I vote (I didn’t for a long time) I almost always vote for left wing parties and policies.

I also change my views on things often, I don’t have a loyalty to any political party and so I dont care if a particular policy comes from the left or right, I’ll support things that to me seem the most reasonable.

This can indeed make it highly challenging when engaging in political discussions as I often don’t feel comfortable expressing a controversial view I may have at any one time which I’m not 100% sure I’ll stand by a year later when presented with new information, experience or perspective.

And I think my unique circumstance here is why I love Joe Rogan’s podcast so much. Joe Rogan has a similar left wing temperament, with friends on all sides of politics and he will often share his views even though they might be fucking stupid or unpopular at the time to his listeners.

Joe Rogan is “Learning in Public”

The show to me is a “learning in public” documentary of Joe Rogan’s life.

I’m not sure many people in the world could do a truly honest format like this. Imagine if you had to put every view you’ve ever held on the public record? Imagine having to speak to people of all different walks of life and process new information out loud and in real time?

That is the kind of public vulnerability that would kill most people.

As of writing this, Joe Rogan has published 1,648 episodes. Assuming each episode goes for an average of 2.5 hours, that’s 171 days of non stop talking, 24 hours a day.

Yes Joe Rogan can say some stupid things, but as Lew Later put it: “You come out here and talk, and talk, and talk, and talk, it’s only a matter of time…”

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And this is what Joe Rogan does, with every episode he puts a target on his back. A target to hit for everyone who wants to signal to their Twitter followers that they’re righteous and they’re right.

It’s very easy take a Joe Rogan quote and show your followers how bad he is (and by doing so, how good you are for pointing it out) in order to get a lot of re-tweets and likes.

The Status game on Twitter

Entrepreneur and investor Naval puts this status game of virtue-signally on Twitter quite elegantly;

“Status, on the other hand, is a zero-sum game. It’s a very old game. We’ve been playing it since monkey tribes. It’s hierarchical. Who’s number one? Who’s number two? Who’s number three? And for number three to move to number two, number two has to move out of that slot. So, status is a zero-sum game.

“When journalists attack rich people, or attack the technology industry, they’re really bidding for status. They’re saying, “No, the people are more important. And I, the journalist, represent the people, and therefore I am more important.”

“The problem is that to win at a status game, you have to put somebody else down. That’s why you should avoid status games in your life because they make you into an angry combative person. You’re always fighting to put other people down, to put yourself and the people you like up.”

If we truly want equality, we need empathy

As The Economist points out, increasing empathy in society will not only reduce status games on Twitter and the intense combative dialogue we have in society, but it may go some way towards helping societies to overcome political polarisation, racism, anti-immigrant anger and cultural divisions.

This is what I believe the Joe Rogan’s podcast does. It gives listeners insights into the minds of people you quite likely would never talk to, never want to talk to, and certainly not bother spending time to understand how they became the way they did.

Ask yourself, if all your political and social beliefs are perfectly aligned with your friendship circle, are they really your beliefs? Did you really come to your position on any one political issue independently? Are you really a free thinker? Or perhaps, are your views simply mirroring the bubble of your peers and closest friends.

How can you be sure you are a free thinker if your political and social views are completely matched with those you spend the most time with?

We need more dialogue in life with people from diverse cultural and political backgrounds, that is my defence (and admiration) of the Joe Rogan podcast.

Talking is good. Listening, even better. Joe Rogan does both. And he forces us to listen to the other side, like it or not. If everyone continues to hold their views militantly, stubbornly and aggressively, tensions and inequality can only worsen.

We will never break bipartisan bread with those who have different political or culture backgrounds. Rogan’s podcast lays out that bread and invites us to break it.