As a big fan of Joe Rogan and his truly unique podcast, this is somewhat difficult for me to write. But given the massive influence his voice carries, particularly with young and somewhat impressionable men, I feel compelled to urge him to stop his egregious mischaracterization of Hillary Clinton.
Over the past few months, Rogan has repeatedly accused Hillary Clinton of being corrupt sociopath and equally as dangerous to America as Donald Trump. In his recent podcast with British documentary maker Louis Theroux, Rogan told his viewers that Clinton is "just as bad" as Donald Trump.
"What he's [Donald Trump] saying about 'crooked Hillary' -- I agree," said Rogan. "If you look at the Clinton foundation, if you look at what they've been unable to do, and the laws they've been able to skirt, and the amount of influence they've been able to have, and the amount of money they are able to generate, and where that money goes, and how ambiguous it is, and how that hasn't been investigated, he's right. He's right in a lot of ways."
"I hope that he loses, personally" said Theroux.
"What, you hope that Hillary wins!?" said Rogan. "Because I hope that she doesn't win either."
"Between Hillary and Trump, you would go Trump?" asked Theroux, looking a little perplexed.
"No. No. I would go asteroid," replied Rogan. "I hope an asteroid hits....I don't like either one of them....I think we're in a bad place with either one of them. Because either one of them are exposing the ridiculous aspects of our society and our political establishment, our political system. It's just not a good system."
This, for lack of a better term, is utter, utter bullshit, and someone as smart as Rogan should know better before promoting this type of lazy thinking. He is spreading this "false equivalence" meme usually propagated by those with a surface level understanding of politics who can't be bothered to do proper research before weighing in with an opinion.
Let's take the Clinton Foundation 'scandal' as an example. Like everything else thrown at Hillary Clinton over the years by the hard Right, it turns out to be largely unsubstantiated, or just complete bullshit. While there are certainly some slightly dubious connections between the Clintons and the donors to their non profit, as the LA Times notes, "There’s no evidence that any Clinton Foundation donors got tangible favors in exchange for their generosity."
The New York Times also weighed in on the so called scandal with the following assessment:
The Clinton Foundation revelations — what we know of them so far — hinge on appearances. There is (so far) no smoking gun email, no explicit evidence of pay-to-play or coordination between the State Department and the foundation.
The original AP report on the scandal was completely torn apart by Vox's Matt Yglesias who extensively detailed the article’s egregious exaggerations, and outright falsehoods.
"The nut fact that the AP uses to lead its coverage is wrong," wrote Yglesias. "And Braun and Sullivan’s reporting reveals absolutely no unethical conduct. In fact, they found so little unethical conduct that an enormous amount of space is taken up by a detailed recounting of the time Clinton tried to help a former Nobel Peace Prize winner who’s also the recipient of a Congressional Gold Medal and a Presidential Medal of Freedom."
The fact is, the Clintons have never personally taken money from the foundation, and as far as anyone who has actually taken the time to research it will tell you, there is no hard evidence they have done anything wrong. To the contrary, their foundation has a truly amazing record of saving thousands, if not millions of lives through its initiatives, and has an exemplary record of transparency and efficiency. When compared to Trump's virtually non-existent record of charity giving, complete lack of transparency over his own taxes, and extraordinarily shady business practices, it is abhorrent to draw any comparisons between the two candidates whatsoever.
It goes without saying that Rogan neglected to mention any of the above while regurgitating the right wing conspiracy theories he seems to believe without evidence. As to why this is the case, I really don't know, but it has to stop.
Rogan and others like him seem to believe that because Hillary Clinton has been investigated so many times she must be guilty of something. But the truth is, each time Clinton has been investigated by law enforcement or Republican led committees, she has been exonerated every single time -- even by the Republicans making the claims in the first place.
But no matter how many times Clinton has been found innocent, Republicans continue to insist she is a corrupt liar and dedicate themselves to taking her down for transgressions no other politician -- particularly Republicans -- are ever called on.
It is true that Clinton is a politician and she has been caught making several contradictory and dubious statements about a variety of topics in past. I have never really been a fan of Clinton myself (mostly based on her more right wing foreign policy positions) but it's not like she is worse than every other politician in America. If anything, the enormous scrutiny she has been placed under has revealed she is anything but the evil sociopath many on the hard left and hard right have portrayed her to be. As former Hillary hater and editor of the popular liberal site 'Crooks and Liars' found after reading through the hacked emails from her home server, the public perception of Clinton couldn't be further from the truth:
In those emails, I discovered a Hillary Clinton I didn’t even know existed.
I found a woman who cared about employees who lost loved ones. I found a woman who, without exception, took time to write notes of condolence and notes of congratulations, no matter how busy she was. I found a woman who could be a tough negotiator and firm in her expectations, but still had a moment to write a friend with encouragement in tough times. She worried over people she didn’t know, and she worried over those she did.
And everywhere she went, her concern for women and children was clearly the first and foremost thing on her mind.
In those emails, I also found a woman who seemed to understand power and how to use it wisely. A woman of formidable intellect who actually understood the nuances of a thing, and how to strike a tough bargain.
I read every single one of the emails released in August, and what I found was someone who actually gave a damn about the country, the Democratic party, and all of our futures.
Of course skimming the headlines of right wing websites or watching selectively edited Youtube clips wouldn't reveal any of this, but then that would require doing some actual work.
I am genuinely not trying to attack Joe Rogan personally here -- I have great, great regard for the man and the enormous good he does with his truly unique podcast -- but on this particular topic he is emblematic of a much larger problem with our media. If you are going to take a strong position on something, it is a good idea to know what you are talking about before going live with your audience of millions of people.
Having spent a great deal of time around typical Joe Rogan podcast listeners in the Jiu Jitsu/Martial Arts community over the years, I can say without doubt that many of them are particularly susceptible to these types of conspiracy theories. Your typical listener -- white, male, intelligent yet uneducated and into all sorts of fringe activities (psychedelics, bowhunting, extreme nutrition etc) -- is likely to latch onto much of what he says as gospel and act accordingly. This is generally harmless, but when it comes to an election of such grave importance, it becomes actively dangerous.
To repeat: there is no equivalency between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. None whatsoever. And to say otherwise is deeply irresponsible.
One candidate is a left of center Democrat who would protect vital social programs that prevent the most vulnerable people in society, invest in education, health care, the environment and the country's infrastructure, ensure America is internationally respected, cooperate on fighting climate change on a global level, protect women's rights, and ensure minorities were treated equally under the law.
The other is a far right lunatic who lies on a minute by minute basis, denies climate change, openly advocates torture, wants to deport 11 million immigrants, has a history of grotesque sexism, knows close to nothing about the function of government, foreign policy, or diplomacy, and is advocating truly idiotic economic policies that would almost certainly ensure financial ruin.
In no rational world do Clinton and Trump have anything in common, and in no rational world would electing Hillary Clinton be anywhere near as bad as electing Donald Trump. Spreading this "both sides" nonsense just encourages hundreds of thousands of potential voters to sit by as a bonafide fascist attempts to take control of the most powerful government in human history. Even if you don't like Hillary Clinton, to not vote for her this election is unconscionable given the truly enormous stakes for humanity. As Andrew Sullivan wrote earlier this year, Donald Trump is "an extinction level event" that poses a threat to not only all human life, but all life on planet earth.
I love you Joe, but please stop this nonsense.
PS: If you're reading this Joe, I'd be happy to debate this topic with you on your podcast. Just let me know when and I'll do my best to make it happen.