After Joe Rogan's podcasts vanished again from Spotify yesterday morning, Travis Chappell writes that podcasts such as Rogan's are entirely necessary as an antidote to today's television media.

Joe Rogan's fall from grace has been as swift as it has been brutal. Mainstream news outlets have smelled blood in the water, and are feasting on pseudo-controversy surrounding the podcaster. I do not condone the use of racial slurs or the promotion of misinformation. I equally do not condone the trashing of a man who has devoted much of his professional life to facilitating honest, open conversations between individuals across the political divide.

In today's hyper-polarised society, a podcaster that speaks to Bernie Sanders one week, and Ben Shapiro the next, is the breath of fresh air many need. When juxtaposed with partisan news outlets that only amplify the echo chambers of the United States, Rogan characterises the kind of conversation the US so desperately needs.

For decades, a handful of corporations have controlled the majority of conversation in the US, and it shows. Research shows that consumption of mainstream political news fuels misconceptions about those on the opposite political aisle.

A 2018 study found that consumption of mainstream political media bolsters prejudice. Democrats believed 44 per cent of Republicans earned more than $250,000 a year; the real figure is 2 per cent. Republicans believed that 38 per cent of Democrats were gay, lesbian, or bisexual, when in fact the real answer is about 6 per cent.

We have to ask what is really a more toxic form of media, new media podcasters like Joe Rogan, or old media stalwarts like Fox News or CNN.

A post by US singer-songwriter India Arie, featuring Rogan saying the N-word in multiple interviews indeed deserved an apology. No matter if he was quoting another comedian or a director, no white person, especially one with Joe Rogan's following, has a licence to utter that word.

However, Tucker Carlsen passes off opinions as facts frequently, and even referred to Alex Jones as a 'guide to reality.' We have yet to receive any apology from Tucker. CNN never uttered anything resembling an apology after demonising Joe Rogan for taking Ivermectin. The asymmetry borders on hypocrisy.

As the old adage goes, "if it bleeds, it leads", and in this case, they have done their best to bleed Rogan dry. Whilst this is partly a case of 'business as usual', these attacks could also be seen as the last kicks of a dying horse.

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Demographics are not on cable news's side. The median age for CNN viewers is 61. It's 63 for MSNBC and 67 for Fox News. On the other hand, 49 per cent of monthly podcast listeners were between 12 and 34, and 40 per cent were between 35 and 54.

The rise of new media is a good thing. Joe Rogan has given many a voice who may not have otherwise had one. Take the North Korean defector and human rights activist Yeonmi Park. She was given a full two hours to detail her journey on Joe Rogan's show. Joe Rogan's listenership clearly has an appetite for this type of long-form dialogue; a 5-minute segment on television is hardly comparable.

Fundamentally, Joe Rogan is only interested in honest and open debate on critical issues. Unlike most news outlets in the US, he isn't preoccupied with clickbait and shareholder returns. He seeks to serve his loyal and long-term listeners. Fundamentally, podcasters like Joe Rogan are offering a more authentic relationship between hosts and their audience.

Essentially, his followers are desperate for a genuine and impartial third-party source of information. They don't want some huge media corporation controlled by politicians with their own agenda that the US has such an abundance of. It shows because his audience is 15 to 20 times larger than the primetime CNN and Fox News shows.

Being able to provide a platform for free speech and open discussion is vital. If we want to cut through the shouting matches in today's culture wars, then long-form debates between diverse voices are essential.

It's clear that many who have criticised Rogan for spreading COVID misinformation have largely not listened to his shows. To prove that he's balanced and objective, he even invited CNN's very own chief medical correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta onto his show to talk about the COVID vaccines.

Indeed, unlike Fox News, CNN or MSNBC, Rogan has never claimed to be a news anchor or a journalist. While the media continue to perpetuate the myth they are covering the real news, they are really preoccupied with some podcasters and MMA enthusiasts who they perceive to have spoken out of term.

At the same time, there are far bigger fish to fry. Instead of obsessing over a podcaster, perhaps 'real news' should spend more time reporting on being on the brink of a potential world war between Russia and Ukraine.

Joe Rogan made a mistake. After facing the fire, he issued a sincere apology; that's how adulthood works. He still symbolises the need for real conversation and authentic conversation in real-time. We should hold everyone to account for the division they spread; that is yet to happen with those corporations who have dominated our televisions and brains for decades.

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