Biden admin wanted to place ‘trusted messenger’ on Joe Rogan podcast to promote Covid vaccines

The Biden administration considered embedding a “trusted messenger” on Joe Rogan’s podcast to promote Covid-19 vaccines. According to documents obtained by conservative watchdog Judicial…

By: Karim Zidan | 8 months ago
Biden admin wanted to place ‘trusted messenger’ on Joe Rogan podcast to promote Covid vaccines
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

The Biden administration considered embedding a “trusted messenger” on Joe Rogan’s podcast to promote Covid-19 vaccines.

According to documents obtained by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) planned to use various “earned media” sources to encourage hesitant demographics to get vaccinated. This included the UFC commentator’s popular show The Joe Rogan Experience.

A public education campaign plan dated April 19 to May 31, 2021 suggested the agency should consider placing a “trusted messenger on the Joe Rogan Show and Barstool Sports to promote vaccination (work with outside expert to identify who will be most effective).”

Other suggestions included requesting that “major live TV entertainment shows feature hosts being vaccinated on air” and “vaccination specials with BET. The Undefeated. Desus & Mero, Sneaker Shopper. Hot Ones.”

While both the Biden and Trump administrations have worked with celebrities and notable figures to spread awareness about Covid-19, the decision to consider Rogan is interesting given that the podcast contributed to COVID-19 misinformation on numerous occasions.

In April 2021, Rogan told his millions of listeners that young, healthy people do not need the COVID-19 vaccine. He walked back his comments the following week, insisting “I’m not a doctor, I’m a fucking moron and I’m a cage fighting commentator who’s a dirty standup comedian who just told you I’m drunk most of the time and I do testosterone and I smoke a lot of weed.”

Rogan also hosted the likes of Dr. Robert Malone, a virologist known for spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine as well as an unfounded theory that government leaders have hypnotized the public, on his show. The aforementioned appearance led to hundreds of doctors and medical professionals signed an open letter condemning Rogan for “spreading vaccine hesitancy” and calling on Spotify to take action against “mass misinformation” on his show.

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About the author
Karim Zidan
Karim Zidan

Karim Zidan is a investigative reporter and feature writer focusing on the intersection of sports and politics. He has written for BloodyElbow since 2014 and has served as an associate editor since 2016. He also writes for The New York Times and The Guardian. Karim has been invited to speak about his work at numerous universities, including Princeton, and was a panelist at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival and the Oslo Freedom Forum. He also participated in the United Nations counter-terrorism conference in 2021. His reporting on Ramzan Kadyrov’s involvement in MMA, much of which was done for Bloody Elbow, has led to numerous award nominations, and was the basis of an award-winning HBO Real Sports documentary.

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