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Why The Joe Rogan-Spotify Fight Will Define Free Speech For Us All

Remind us again what it was that Joe Rogan said that got the left so apoplectic. Did he spew hate speech? Call for an insurrection? Say mean things about a protected minority?

No? The left wanted him canceled because he supposedly aired misinformation about COVID? Are you kidding? If this is the new standard for censorship, you can kiss free speech goodbye.  

After all, anything can be labeled “misinformation.”

Would you dare to say climate change hysteria is unfounded? Or government-provided daycare is a bad idea? Or Joe Biden’s massive welfare expansion is a bad idea? Election fraud is real? Dogs are better pets than cats? Misinformation! Misinformation!! Misinformation!!! Misinformation!!!!

What information did Rogan spread about COVID that has so alarmed the left? That masks are ineffective? That all we needed was a 15-day lockdown to “slow the spread”? That there was no way the virus resulted from Chinese lab experiments? That schools had to be shut down? That this was a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”?

Oh, wait, those were all uttered by people like Anthony Fauci.

No, the left claims that Rogan, by not being sufficiently panicked about COVID and not toeing the line on the vaccination mandates, is guilty of second-degree murder, with Spotify being an accessory. As Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan put it, “People are dying because of COVID misinformation that Spotify packages as glib podcast fodder.”

But wait a minute. Much of what Rogan has been cited for as COVID “misinformation,” for example, has turned out to be true, or is just one man’s opinion. Since when was expressing an opinion worth a murder rap?

Media Matters for America, the George Soros-funded team of miscreants who’ve appointed themselves guardians of liberal orthodoxy in the media, compiled a list of what it considers Rogan’s worst COVID transgressions last year. Here’s the catalog of transgressions:

  • It labeled as false a Rogan claim that lockdowns “makes things worse.” But a new “meta-study”– which looks at all the research to date on the effectiveness of lockdowns – published by the prestigious Johns Hopkins University concluded that … lockdowns made things worse. “Lockdowns have had little to no public health effects,” the study says, adding that “they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted. In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.”
  • Media Matters also complains that Rogan “dedicated an entire episode of his podcast to promoting ivermectin.” But there is evidence that it is safe and effective, unlike say, organic food or carbon taxes that the left is constantly pushing.
  • It says Rogan’s claim that the Biden administration was planning to monitor text messages for COVID misinformation is a “right-wing lie.” Really? It was Politico – a liberal-leaning news site – that reported last July that “Biden allied groups, including the Democratic National Committee, are also planning to engage fact-checkers more aggressively and work with SMS carriers to dispel misinformation about vaccines that is sent over social media and text messages.” 
  • Media Matters says Rogan “lied that getting the coronavirus vaccine is not effective in preventing the disease.” Lied, eh? The CDC itself says that “vaccine breakthrough infections are expected” and that, “like other vaccines, they are not 100% effective.” The Minnesota Department of Health says that by the end of 2021 there’d been more than a quarter-million “breakthrough” cases of COVID in that state alone.
  • The group complains that he encouraged “healthy” young people not to get a COVID-19 vaccine, saying, “If you’re like 21 years old, and you say to me, should I get vaccinated? I’ll go no.” As we’ve pointed out in this space earlier, the young are at an infinitesimal risk of suffering serious harm from COVID, and the vaccine has proved almost completely ineffective against the Omicron variant.
  • Media Matters called out Rogan for making the “baseless” claim that the Biden administration was “letting in thousands and thousands of people who are positive with COVID.” Baseless? ABC News reported in August that “18% of migrant families leaving Border Patrol custody tested positive for COVID.”

So why isn’t Media Matters being “deplatformed” for spreading COVID misinformation?

The big no-no, however, was the fact that Rogan let Dr. Robert Malone express his views on the COVID vaccine on his podcast. Malone, who helped develop the technology used in two of the vaccines, said that Americans are trapped in a “mass formation psychosis,” in which “anybody who questions” the prevailing narrative is attacked. Then, as if to prove him right, Twitter canceled his account and YouTube deleted videos of him talking to Rogan.

Is everything Malone has said about the vaccine 100% accurate? Maybe not. But almost nothing that public health “experts” have said about COVID has stood up to scrutiny. If Rogan shouldn’t be allowed to speak then neither should Anthony Fauci.

Rogan isn’t the first to be censored by the left’s “misinformation” police. And at least Spotify is standing by him, so far.

But this fight isn’t about COVID, or vaccines, or public health. This fight is about control. It’s about setting the bar low enough so the left can decide what is and isn’t allowed to be said – about any topic.

The censors cannot be allowed to succeed. Because trust us, once the COVID scare is over, the left will find a new target for its “misinformation” censorship campaign.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.

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About Issues & Insights

Issues & Insights is run by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our goal is to bring our decades of combined journalism experience to help readers understand the top issues of the day. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis, because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 




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