Vox asks us a truly strange question – “How do you solve a problem like Joe Rogan?” Apparently, the problem that must be solved is that Rogan is both popular and not entirely on message. So, how can he either be made less popular or more on message?
This is an extraordinary thing for a part of a notionally free media to ask or even worry about. But they do mean it. They’re also so extraordinarily arrogant it makes you want to gasp. “And without a background in journalism or seemingly any type of journalistic editorial oversight,” which does tempt the rejoinder that given modern journalism this might be what makes him so popular. Or perhaps it’s possible to say that recording a conversation with someone doesn’t in fact require a master’s in journalism? This though is the idea that Vox wants to shock us out of. If just anyone could talk as they wished then how can the public conversation be policed by the media?
“[H]is massive audience of primarily mainstream, middle-American men gets dosed with toxicity and extremism.”
To translate, “he says things we don’t like him saying and we don’t like that.”
“What we have, then, is a problem that is both unique to the internet and reflective of the giant problem of the internet as a whole: Like the internet itself, Rogan and whatever dangerous misinformation, conspiracy theories, jerky bigotry, or offensive views he wants to serve up today are all unstoppable and essentially answerable to no one. He has all of the audience, money, attention, and prestige of a traditional gatekeeper.”
The problem is that he’s not doing that gatekeeping. People hear things we, the journalistic classes, think that people shouldn’t hear and don’t tell them. So, Rogan’s a problem because he gets around our traditional gatekeeping. Oh, and he gets more money but that’s sotto voce rather than said outright.
“The public’s growing lack of trust in traditional journalism and legacy media outlets…”
How dare he be more popular than us?
“Instead of being canceled (he’s “too big to cancel”), Rogan has dragged us all in the opposite direction: He’s just respectable enough, and more than powerful enough, to have helped shift the Overton window of acceptable, respectable social views toward a messier, uglier roundtable.”
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this piece is that it’s all being said sop straight, they’re so upfront about it. Because Rogan talks about stuff that we don’t want folk talking about it’s such a pity that he hasn’t been canceled. And given that he hasn’t been then we’ve got this problem we have to solve. So, how?
Fortunately, Vox does not come to any useful conclusion but just the asking of the question itself is an absurdity. We really do now have the media in the United States wondering how possibly the most popular individual in that media can be silenced. All because they don’t like the people hearing some of the ideas.
Vox is not some student production out of a mother’s basement. It’s ranked 90 in news and media for the U.S. and the website gains some 23 million visits a month. There’s a substantial YouTube presence as well. Vox describes its own mission as to “explain the news.”