The Joe Rogan Experience is one of the most popular podcasts in the world. However, the UFC commentator’s willingness to talk to anyone has seen him in hot water over the last decade. Here are Rogan’s most controversial moments.
The JRE podcast has come a long way since its humble origins in 2009. The program has hosted guests such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. In 2021, streaming giant Spotify reportedly shelled out $100 million to make it exclusive to their platform.
Despite its massive popularity, host Joe Rogan has found himself embroiled in backlash over the years. From his viral vaccine rant to his infamous Jack Dorsey interview, we are going to break down five of the show’s most controversial moments that did not sit well with viewers and critics.
Top 5 most controversial Joe Rogan Experience moments
#5: Elon Musk – Episode #1169
After years of anticipation, Elon Musk finally visited Rogan’s podcast for a nearly three-hour conversation that did not disappoint. The interview covered topics from aliens to the tech-billionaire’s future Neuralink.
The show went completely off the rails in the last hour when the UFC commentator offered Musk a joint to loosen up. Without hesitation, he lit up and quickly became the year’s biggest meme.
While viewers loved the moment, Tesla shareholders were not amused. Immediately after the episode, the electric company’s stocks reportedly plummeted. Even though the moment would go down in JRE history, Elon’s actions received criticism from the media.
#4: Jack Dorsey – Episode #1236
Rogan’s interview with the Twitter CEO in 2019 is notoriously hated by fans of the podcast. Many viewers at the time accused him of asking Dorsey ‘softball’ questions.
In particular, many wanted the JRE host to ask the tech giant to explain how the platform decides to ban accounts and to address accusations of the company having bias when enforcing rules.
The backlash was so big that Rogan offered up a rare apology to his audience a few episodes later. The comedian even had Dorsey and Twitter policy leader Vijaya Gadde come back on the show for a second interview to discuss topics fans originally wanted to be covered.
#3: Joe Rogan misreports wildfire story – Episode #1538
For episode #1538, Joe Rogan sat down with British author Douglas Murray to discuss social issues and modern politics. During the conversation, the 53-year-old host gave an example of activists in the United States going too far and starting wildfires in Portland, Oregon.
The only problem is, this was quickly debunked by the FBI and major news outlets. The moment quickly exploded on social media and was even picked up by mainstream media. Critics accused him of irresponsibly spreading fake news.
Rogan addressed the situation quickly by apologizing on Twitter and privatizing the JRE episode on YouTube. “I f**ked up on the podcast with Douglas Murray and said that people got arrested lighting fires in Portland. That turns out to not be true. I was very irresponsible not looking into it before I repeated it,” he wrote.
I fucked up on the podcast with Douglas Murray and said that people got arrested lighting fires in Portland. That turns out to not be true. I was very irresponsible not looking into it before I repeated it. I read one story about a guy getting arrested for lighting fires…
— Joe Rogan (@joerogan) September 18, 2020
#02: Alex Jones – Episode #1555
While Alex Jones has been a featured guest on the Joe Rogan Experience several times throughout its 11-year run, the highly controversial conspiracy theorist was banned by YouTube, Facebook, and Apple in 2018.
So his surprise appearance in a 2020 episode immediately sparked backlash. Because Rogan had just signed a $100 million contract with Spotify a few months earlier, this caused critics to put intense scrutiny on the deal.
According to several reports, employees at the streaming company demanded that the episode be deleted. The episode would end up staying up and Spotify ultimately decided to give Rogan freedom to choose who he invites on his show.
#01: Joe Rogan’s take on vaccines – Episode #1639
During the April 2021 interview with radio personality Dave Smith, Rogan kicked off a firestorm when he told viewers that he didn’t think a young healthy person needed to get a vaccine.
The viral moment spread to mainstream outlets such as CNN and MSNBC. Even the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases condemned the commentator’s take and called it “incorrect.”
The backlash became so widespread that the United States White House released a statement criticizing Rogan. In a later episode, the comedian clarified his stance and argued that he was pro-vaccination, but felt that people took his nuanced position out of context.