It is impossible to defend the claim that Joe Rogan has a vested moral entitlement to a $100 million platform no matter what he says, or to defend the uncritical dissemination of anti-vaxx propaganda during a pandemic being made far worse than necessary by widespread vaccine opposition and reluctance. But lots of dudes like Joe Rogan, hence a felt need for a lot of handwaving and “but althoughs” and “look over theres.” This version of that may be both the most common and the most useless:
On its face, this is always a dumb argument, because there’s always something more important you can be writing about. It’s also silly because the more important an issue the less likely that you can personally do something about it — if you cancel your Spotify Premium membership it’s not like it’s a zero-sum game where you could have been using that time and $10 a month to end carbon emissions and upzone all of your city’s residential neighborhoods instead.
But it’s particularly ridiculous coming from the guy who has written countless stories about the “campus pc” moral panic, including a legendary screed in which with an assist from Rod Dreher’s comment section he turned all of his barrels on Oberlin students who destroyed free speech in America by expressing such sentiments as “a pulled pork sandwich should not be called a ‘banh mi'” and “chicken loaf on minute rice should not be called ‘sushi'” (and, in fairness, on Oberlin students berating cafeteria employees who, alas, only exist in Freddie deBoer’s fevered imagination.) If he didn’t decide to write a column about how Joe Rogan isn’t important enough for [anyone else] to be worth writing about [unless they share Conor’s views on the subject], presumably he’d be writing not about climate change or housing policy but about a sophomore at Bowdoin who said that a Gorton’s fish stick on a Saltine cracker shouldn’t be called ‘lox and bagels’ or something.
The other evasive two-step is to demand precise causal evidence about how many people Joe Rogan has personally and directly persuaded not to take the vaccine. This is, again, really dumb. It’s nearly impossible to isolate the impact of individuals who are part of a systematic propaganda campaign. He has an audience of more than 10 million people and spreads anti-vaxx disinfo during the worst pandemic in a century, which continues to kill huge numbers of people despite the existence of safe and effective vaccine. If you want to write about something else, fine! But this is certainly a subject worthy of discussion, and infinitely more important than anodyne and/or apocryphal anecdotes about wacky students at Oberlin.