Joe Rogan’s wildly popular podcast has garnered nationwide controversy for its continued willingness to platform controversial guests who spread misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic. The show’s most recent guest was no different.
Julianna Pena, the newly crowned UFC women’s bantamweight champion, revealed Thursday that she was a “massive conspiracy theorist” regarding the pandemic and shared her unfounded concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I listened to (your) podcast with the two doctors, back-to-back. I mean, that was eye-opening for me,” Pena said during her appearance on JRE. “I’m a massive conspiracy theorist on this whole thing, and I have been since the very beginning. I’m like, ‘This is just a money grab. They’re trying to kill us, and this is ridiculous.’”
Amidst her unhinged claims, Pena referenced a recent JRE episode with Dr. Robert Malone, a virologist who was involved in early mRNA technology research but is now known for spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine as well as an unfounded theory that government leaders have hypnotized the public. Malone was permanently suspended from Twitter, while the podcast episode was removed from YouTube.
The controversial episode with Dr. Malone also led to 270 doctors, scientists, and medical professionals penning an open letter to Spotify—the exclusive platform for the JRE show—to adopt a policy against misinformation. The letter explained that “by allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals.”
Beyond Dr. Malone’s appearance, Rogan has personally contributed to COVID-19 misinformation on numerous occasions, including in April 2021 when he told his millions of listeners that young, healthy people do not need the COVID-19 vaccine. However, he appeared to push back against Pena’s comments,
“I don’t think they’re trying to kill us. I think there’s a lot of confusion as far as what works and what doesn’t work,” Rogan replied.
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