Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center is so dedicated to defending COVID misinformation that when podcaster Joe Rogan was busted for letting anti-vaxxers like Robert Malone and Peter McCullough, it rushed to shoehorn Rogan into its right-wing victim narrative. As criticism of Rogan continued, the MRC doubled down on its defense. When rock legend Neil Young demanded that Spotify either drop Rogan or stop streaming his music, Alexander Hall sneered on Jan. 25:
Neil Young has reportedly demanded that Spotify become a safe space for him. The Once-legendary Canadian-American singer delivered an ultimatum to Spotify, according to Rolling Stone: Get rid of the massively popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast or lose his music.
A questionably relevant singer demanding the removal of perhaps the world’s most popular podcast is a hard sell. “Neil Young posted a since-deleted letter to his management team and record label demanding that they remove his music from Spotify,” Rolling Stone reported Jan. 24. “‘I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,’” he wrote, according to Rolling Stone.“They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both.”
Young later accused Spotify of “spreading fake information about vaccines” and “potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation,” according to the magazine.
Hall didn't dispute Young's statement that Rogan spreads misinformation -- perhaps because he knows it's true. And insisting that misinformation not be spread is not the same thing as hiding in a "safe space."
The next day, Nicholas Fondacaro put "misinformation" in scare quotes when talking about what Rogan has done -= because the MRC will never unequivocally acknowledge any right-winger spreads misinformation -- but he seemed surprised that "The View" co-host Joy Behar came to Rogan's defense. On Jan. 27, Hall tried to feel superior over Young after Spotify chose Rogan over Young's music, claiming that "Young may have drastically overestimated his popularity and influence" and sneering again, "Old man, look at your life." The same day, Autumn Johnson joined the scare-quote brigade:
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called on Big Tech to remove Joe Rogan’s podcast because of so-called COVID-19 “misinformation,” on Tuesday.
Murthy was discussing what he considered to be COVID-19 “misinformation” on social media platforms with MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski. Brzezinski asked Murthy what he thought of Rogan’s podcast, which reached 11 million people per episode. Rogan has been criticized for promoting alternative treatments for COVID-19.
Murthy said that Big Tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter should do more to remove alleged “misinformation” online. He said, however, that change should be the responsibility of the platforms themselves, not the government.
Johnson made no effort to prove that Rogan wasn't spreading misinformation, making her scare quotes a lazy way out.
On Jan. 29, it was Jeffrey Lord's turn to lash out at Young for standing up for truth, falsely declaring of him, "Who knew rocker Neil Young was into censorship?" He claimed Rogan and other anti-vaxxers were spreading misinfomation but, rather, "different views on the vaccine," going on to huff: "Make no mistake. America is involved in a battle royal with leftist censors who are determined to silence any and all views on any and all subjects they don’t like."
Johnson returned on Jan. 30 to complain about "another aging lefty rocker" criticizing Rogan:
Spotify has faced more criticism for its decision to keep Joe Rogan’s podcast on the platform. Last week, artist Neil Young challenged the music streaming platform to remove the podcast or remove his music. Spotify removed his music.
And now, singer Joni Mitchell also asked that her music be removed from the platform.
“Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives,” Mitchell said of her decision. “I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.”
Johnson didn't dispute Mitchell's contention that Rogan was irresponsibly "spreading lies." But she waited until nearly the end of her post to admit that "Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said the company will now add a content advisory on podcasts that mentions COVID-19. The user will then be directed to information about the virus from physicians and other health officials.
The next day, Rogan issued a video addressing the controversy surrounding him. Hall was bizarrely gleeful that it could be considered a "non-apology" and seemed absolutely giddy about labeling him a "world-famous podcaster":
World-famous podcaster Joe Rogan stirred up controversy with Cancel Culture mobs by interviewing medical professionals who questioned shifting narratives of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, rocker Neil Young pulled his music from Spotify in protest, causing Spotify and Rogan himself to respond.
The Joe Rogan Experience host released a video that could be described as a “non-apology” to the people offended by so-called “misinformation” in his podcast interviews. “The problem I have with the term ‘misinformation,’ especially today, is that many of the things that we thought of as misinformation just a short while ago are now accepted as fact,” he explained in a video on his Instagram page.
He provided examples of claims that went from alleged “misinformation” to widely accepted facts after a few months. Then, he noted how he had discussed many of those exact, now acceptable, narratives with qualified professionals: “All of those theories that at one point in time were banned, were openly discussed by those two men that I had on my podcast that had been accused of dangerous misinformation.”
One example of this that Rogan cited, according to Hall, regarded the origin of COVID-19, which he "claims that were censored for being so-called “conspiracy theories,” but now are the predominant explanations for the course of the pandemic. Hall linked to an old NewsBusters post complaining that an article at the unreliable far-right site ZeroHedge claiming that COVID-19 was weaponized by China, citing another article claming the virus was a leak from the Wuhan lab as evidence that this is now the "predominant explanation" -- even though that wasn't exactly what ZeroHedge was claiming. Meanwhile, there's still plenty of evidence that discredit the lab-leak theory.
Hall also wrote:
“If you said, ‘I don't think cloth masks work, you would be banned from social media. Now, that’s openly and repeatedly stated on CNN. If you said ‘I think it's possible that COVID-19 came from a lab’ you’d be banned from many social media platforms, now that's on the cover of Newsweek.”
But cloth masks do have a level of effectiveness, though not as good as N95 or KN85 masks. Rogan is lying when he claims they don't work at all.
Hall seemed disappointed to report that Rogan said "he would accept disclaimers on his podcasts about COVID-19 'saying that you should speak with your physician and that these people and the opinions that they express are contrary to the opinions of the consensus of experts.'" And, curiously, he again repeated Young's contention that Spotify hosts like Rogan were "spreading fake information about vaccines" and "potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation" without making an effort to dispute the claim.