Saturday, January 25, 2020

Not So Consistent Any More

Zack Beauchamp of Vox explains

For about 10 years, Rogan has been the host of The Joe Rogan Experience, an internet talk show that’s become astonishingly popular both in podcast and video form on YouTube. It’s been the No. 1 or 2 show in the world on Apple Podcasts for the past few years; its YouTube channel, PowerfulJRE, has over 7 million subscribers.

It’s given a new relevancy to the 52-year-old media veteran. He started his career as a standup comedian, starred in the ’90s sitcom NewsRadio, and then worked as the host of the gross-out reality show Fear Factor from 2001 to 2006. He’s also a passionate mixed martial arts fan who has worked as an announcer at MMA fights.

Rogan’s show is a meandering interview series with a very strange panel of guests that reflect the host’s personal interests, ranging from MMA fighters to comedians to evolutionary biologists to Dr. Phil....

Rogan is an engaging host, one who lets conversations float freely on a range of diverse and often quite interesting topics. When you watch some of Rogan’s more thoughtful interviews, it’s easy to understand why he has such a big cult following.

But the show’s treatment of politics, a common topic in the interviews, is something else entirely. While Rogan claims to be left-wing, the show’s principal political enemy appears to be liberal identity politics. He’s a leading light of the “Intellectual Dark Web,” the loose confederation of anti-PC thinkers including Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson and right-wing gadfly Ben Shapiro. In fact, the question that led to his Sanders endorsement came from one of the IDW’s chief popularizers, New York Times columnist Bari Weiss.

Rogan’s contempt for political correctness comes through throughout the show. In a 2013 episode, for example, he “joked” that seeing a screening of Planet of the Apes in a mostly black neighborhood was “walk[ing] in to Planet of the Apes.” He described the experience of finding out that his comedy hero Richard Pryor had sex with men as “a spike to the heart.”

Not surprisingly, Rogan- who has a large number of Trump supporters among his listeners- responded to a question on Thursday by stating "I think I'll probably vote for Bernie... He’s been insanely consistent his entire life. He’s basically been saying the same thing, been for the same thing his whole life. And that in and of itself is a very powerful structure to operate from.”

And then Bernard Sanders tweeted out a video of Rogan endorsing him.

This sparked a controversy on Twitter as to whether the candidate should trumpet support from a very popular podcaster whose listeners might not otherwise cast a vote for any Democrat.  Many commenters viewed the issue as did Beauchamp, whether the Democratic Party should embrace a big tent-approach, welcome a thumbs up from popular figures despite their occasional lapses of bigotry to gain support from conservatives (especially male). The latter are believed to be the sort who often are believed to have cost Hillary Clinton election to the presidency, and whose inclusion many Berniecrats believe necessary to build a majority for progressive economic policies.

Please spare me.   On December 12, 2019 Bernard endorsed the candidacy of Cenk Uygur for election to the 25th congressional district in California, vacant since the abrupt resignation of Democrat Katie Hill.

Sanders was understandably proud that day to boast the endorsement by a genuine progressive, founder and host of The Young Turks, with a very popular podcast. Yet, within 24 hours, the Vermont senator had rescinded his endorsement of Uygur, notwithstanding the latter's impressive populist credentials.

It turns out that Uygur had posted misogynistic posts- long since deleted- on a blog 15 years ago. He has renounced those earlier remarks but not to the satisfaction of a few feminists and, evidently, the Sanders campaign.

A lot of people change in 15 years and Uygur, a Republican as a young man, is no exception. There is no indication that he presently harbors hostile views about any minorities, and every indication that Rogan does. Nonetheless, the man whom Joe Rogan says has been "insanely consistent his entire life" dropped Cenk Uygur in less time than a New York minute.

Trumpeting support from Rogan is notable not only because the campaign decided that Uygur is persona non grata. On October 19, 2019, shortly after Sanders had suffered, and recovered from, a heart attack, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced at a Sanders rally that she supported the Vermonter for president.

Ocasio-Cortez, generally considered the leader of "The Squad," is extraordinarily popular among progressives and almost from that moment (possibly no "almost"), Sanders' campaign began to soar.  He is now one of the two leading candidates for the Democratic Party's nomination, that due in no small measure to the tremendous boost he evidently received from the Queens, NY congresswoman.

And so it should have received more attention, then and arguably more now, that in early January Ocasio-Cortez told New York magazine

“Oh, God. In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America, we are.” But she didn’t stop there.

The freshman New Yorker took a shot at her party’s congressional leadership and then aimed her fire on the Congressional Progressive Caucus, arguing for the ouster of those without the proper liberal credentials. “They let anybody who the cat dragged in call themselves a progressive. There’s no standard,” she charged.

She capped off her critique with a decidedly undemocratic suggestion that maybe the Democratic Party “can be too big of a tent.”

So if not the most prominent, the most important supporter of Sanders for President believes that Joe Biden is not someone who should be in the Democratic Party, or at least a Democratic Party she's comfortable in. However, her man for President believes that Joe Rogan is a gosh darn fine guy to be in the tent of Sanders supporters.

It may not be bad strategy; Bernard is riding high currently and appears to have pushed almost all the right buttons.  As with the other presidential aspirants, whether a guy like this can win a general election depends less on him than it does with incumbent Donald Trump.  But it does raise a red flag for any Sanders administration.

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