Joe Rogan’s podcast has been around since 2009, and features long (two hours or more) interviews with personalities from every background and occupation. The long-ranging, free-flowing conversations (really, they’re more conversations than traditional interviews) make for great listening, and I suspect part of the key to Rogan’s success is that he offers something for everyone. For example, I ignore most of Rogan’s content, but I’ll never miss an interview he does with any of the various figures on the Right, from Ben Shapiro to Gavin McInnes (persona non grata from Rogan’s show these days, unfortunately).
McInnes describes Rogan as a man with a “blue-collar brain,” but who is generally open to learning. That is, he’s rather meat-headed and unsophisticated in his analysis, but he’s willing to discuss anything with anyone (Flat Earthers, for example, are regulars on his show). His only real sticking point, until the SJWs targeted him, was marijuana. He lost it on Steven Crowder for merely suggesting that copious consumption of marijuana isn’t completely benign. Yikes!
In a Telegram post about Rogan’s deal, the Z Man wrote that Rogan “is harmlessly edgy. He likes drugs, porn, and left-wing heretics like [Tulsi] Gabbard and [Bernie] Sanders. He’ll never question orthodoxy on the important stuff…. YouTube was letting him make a lot of money and now Spotify will pay him a lot of money, to be safely edgy.” Z’s contention is that Rogan is an example of controlled opposition, “of how the system insulates itself from challenges.”
I’d largely agree with that assessment. Joe Rogan experienced some heat a few months back from the SJWs, and stopped inviting some of his truly edgy guests (interesting conservatives who say True but unapproved things). He represents the kind of Left-learning libertarianism that glorifies in pot smoking (as evidenced by his rhetorically violent reaction to Crowder’s simple questioning) and immorality as expressions of freedom, which also pandering for socialists like Sanders (although, to be fair, I suspect that a section of Sanders supporters back The Bern not because they love socialism, but because Sanders serves as a symbol for iconoclasm on the cheap—a short-hand for signalling one’s hipster street cred).
But I don’t fault Rogan for trying to keep his show. He’s not a man of the Right, even though I sincerely respected his willingness to host controversial figures, and to engage them in honest and interesting conversations. Center-Left figures like Rogan and the oft-mocked Dave Rubin (“I agree with that”) who are intellectually open are the kinds of people I used to love to discuss politics and culture with—we might disagree, but we could learn something from one another.
That breed died out after 2016, which means that most of them only pretended to be tolerant of differing opinions while their guy was in power. Trump’s victory revealed their true natures as ferocious Leftists who would stop at nothing to destroy any vestiges of conservatism or Trumpian nationalism.
So Rogan and Rubin were refreshing characters (Rubin, in particularly, was blandly milquetoast enough to bring some normies over to our side). Further, Rogan has a lot at stake, and $100 million is nothing to sneeze at—and probably worth it to an acceptably edgy Leftist if it means not inviting Milo on his show.
But the real heroes are guys like Gavin McInnes. McInnes has built his own “pirate ship,” as he calls it, at Censored.TV (formerly FreeSpeech.TV). Instead of the inherently cucked, if lucrative, approach Rogan took, McInnes—whose motto is “Get Fired, Get in Trouble, Be Brave, and Never Stop Fighting”—created his own empire. His subscribers outnumber the combined audiences of Howard Stern and Tucker Carlson.
For so long, libertarians have supported corporate tyranny with the the slogan “build your own platform,” as if conservatives can just magically create payment processors, server farms, social media websites, website hosting, etc. It’s the equivalent of saying, “start your own power company” if progressives suddenly began shutting off power to houses with registered Republicans. The suggestion demonstrates the limitations of libertarianism, and the unreality of it—am I supposed to build my own power plant? But McInnes has done it, at least partially.
Again, I don’t begrudge Rogan his success or his wealth, or his decision to play it safe. Imagine, though, what he could have done for free speech and liberty if he’d fought against the SJWs and taken the McInnes route.