February 10, 2022

So, wait, let me get this right. Joe Rogan says a bunch of stuff — serious and wrong stuff — about COVID-19 on a podcast that reaches millions. And now he says, hey, why are you listening to me?

The embattled podcaster certainly isn’t shying away from his recent controversies. He met them straight on during a standup gig in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday night. He talked about the viral clip of him using the N-word multiple times over his podcast career, as well as the COVID-19 misinformation heard on his very popular “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter’s James Hibberd, Rogan told the audience, “I talk (expletive) for a living — that’s why this is so baffling to me. If you’re taking vaccine advice from me, is that really my fault? What dumb (expletive) were you about to do when my stupid idea sounded better? ‘You know that dude who made people eat animal (expletive) on TV? How does he feel about medicine?’ If you want my advice, don’t take my advice.”

If Rogan thought he was being funny, he wasn’t. And while it’s true that no one should be taking medical advice from someone who is not a doctor and clearly misinformed about COVID-19, this is also true: Rogan must realize he is incredibly influential among his devoted listeners. Thus, he has a responsibility to make sure that what is said on his podcast — by him and guests — is not harmful and dangerous.

Yes, the listeners can’t be so gullible to accept everything said on Rogan’s podcast as gospel, but that doesn’t mean Rogan and his guests can just throw anything out there.

And while Rogan has put out two videos in which he seemingly regretted many of the things said on his podcast, he said on his podcast Tuesday that the recent video of him using the N-word many times was a “political hit job.” But then he added, “It’s good because it makes me address some (expletive) that I really wish wasn’t out there.”

Let’s be clear, as CNN’s Brian Stelter pointed out on CNN’s “New Day,” it’s not as if the video was doctored. Rogan actually used the slur time and time again. Rogan has since apologized for using the word, said he hasn’t said it in years, and yet also said the examples of him using the N-word were taken out of context.

Rogan has been slammed by some on the right, including Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for apologizing at all. To which Rogan said, “You should apologize if you regret something. I do think you have to be careful not to apologize for nonsense.”

Rogan, during a Q&A portion during his Tuesday night stage act, told the crowd he would not accept the $100 million offer made on social media from Rumble’s CEO to join that right-wing platform. Rogan said, “No, Spotify has hung in with me, inexplicably. Let’s see what happens.”

He also was asked what makes him most nervous. Rogan said, “Being a bad person. For real. I try to do my best.”


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Palin v. The New York Times

In this courtroom sketch, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin testifies in her defamation lawsuit against The New York Times in federal court in New York on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)

The Sarah Palin defamation trial against The New York Times continued on Wednesday with Palin taking the witness stand briefly before court was adjourned for the day.

Palin told jurors that she’s a single mom and grandmother these days and “holds down the fort” for her family in Alaska.

Palin will take the stand again today and will get more into the heart of the case. She is suing the Times over a 2017 editorial that incorrectly linked the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords to a map circulated by Palin’s PAC that showed certain electoral districts under crosshairs. The Times corrected the editorial about 12 hours after it was published online.

Palin’s appearance on the stand Wednesday followed that of James Bennet, who was the editorial page editor of The Times when the editorial in question was published. Bennet was the one who inserted the item that needed to be corrected.

Testifying for the second consecutive day on Wednesday, Bennet admitted his mistake, but said it wasn’t done intentionally to harm Palin.

“I’ve regretted it pretty much every day since,” Bennet said. “That’s on me. That’s my failure.”

For more details from Wednesday’s trial, check out David Mack’s piece for BuzzFeed News.

The green light

The long-awaited merger between AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Discovery cleared a major hurdle Wednesday when U.S. regulators approved the deal. AT&T is planning to spin off CNN and WarnerMedia’s other properties in the next few months. Now what’s left is a final vote from Discovery’s shareholders — which is expected.

The timing for the merger seems to be pointing to around April. At that time, Discovery will look to name a new president for CNN to replace Jeff Zucker, who stepped down last week.

For more on Wednesday’s merger, check out stories from Deadline’s Jill Goldsmith and CNN’s Brian Stelter.

Grim news

Entertainment Weekly and InStyle are among six magazines owned by Barry Diller’s Dotdash Meredith group that will immediately cease publishing in print and move to online only. The other magazines include EatingWell, Health, Parents and People en Español. Because of the move, 200 jobs will be cut.

As The New York Times’ Tiffany Hsu and Katie Robertson pointed out, “The magazines were acquired last year by Dotdash, a subsidiary of Mr. Diller’s InterActiveCorp, when it bought the publishing giant Meredith Corporation for roughly $2.7 billion.”

In a memo acquired by The Wall Street Journal’s Alexandra Bruell, Neil Vogel, the chief executive of Dotdash Meredith, wrote, “We have said from the beginning, buying Meredith was about buying brands, not magazines or websites. It is not news to anyone that there has been a pronounced shift in readership and advertising from print to digital, and as a result, for a few important brands, print is no longer serving the brand’s core purpose.”

Dotdash’s other print publications — including the very popular People, Better Homes and Gardens and Southern Living — will remain in print. Vogel said the company will invest more into improving the quality of those publications. In addition, Vogel said that the company has more than 100 open positions in editorial and other departments, and he hopes to fill some of those positions with those whose jobs have been eliminated.

Still, it’s the end of an era, most notably for the print version of Entertainment Weekly, which debuted in 1990.

Vogel wrote in his memo, “Naysayers will interpret this as another nail in print’s coffin. They couldn’t be more wrong.”

Another impact of the pandemic

My Poynter colleague Kristen Hare has a new must-read piece out: “What did the pandemic do to the careers of journalists of color?”

I asked Kristen about it, and here’s what she told me:

“By the summer of 2020, Poynter had been tracking layoffs caused by the pandemic for months. When two journalists (Mazin Sidahmed and Moiz Syed) reached out to see if we could work together to dig deeper, I was very willing. We wanted to find data to better understand how the pandemic impacted the careers of journalists of color. What we found, instead, were several reasons why we weren’t able to get that information at all. Mostly, they get down to transparency, which I don’t have to tell you is one of our industry’s highest values. In short — we have a problem.”

Read Hare’s important story.

Ward’s response

In Wednesday’s newsletter, I linked to a story in The New Yorker from Isaac Chotiner with the headline: “Why Didn’t Vanity Fair Break the Jeffrey Epstein Story?”

The story centered around journalist Vicky Ward, who claims that Vanity Fair prevented her from publishing the story of two sisters, Annie and Maria Farmer — who said that they had been sexually abused by Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

But Chotiner also wrote, “Ward and I spoke on the phone, and I asked her to forward emails that could verify some of her claims about Vanity Fair. Many of the things that she told me — and had told her podcast listeners — turned out to be untrue. All publications, including this one, at times look back on stories and regret not pursuing them further. But Ward’s claim that Vanity Fair prevented her from exposing Epstein misrepresents a more complicated reality.”

There was much more to Chotiner’s story, so read it if you haven’t already.

On Wednesday, Ward responded with a Substack headlined, “What The New Yorker Got Wrong.”

Ward wrote that The New Yorker’s story “quickly abandons any attempt at exploring how Vanity Fair buried my 2003 reporting on Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of the Farmer sisters in favor of smearing my reputation as a journalist.”

She adds, “The events of what happened leading up to the removal of the Farmers’ allegations from the Vanity Fair story are a large part of what the New Yorker story gets wrong.”

Ward then goes into a rather lengthy and detailed account of her version of events. It includes what she claims is an excerpt from the call she had with Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter just prior to a conference call she had with Epstein in October 2002, in which she tells Carter about the Farmers and their allegations. Then there are excerpts from a conference call with Ward, Carter and Epstein and other conversations she had with Epstein and Carter.

She closes her Substack by writing, “​​My only objective in releasing all this is to be completely transparent, because so much harmful misinformation is now in the ether. And, in reading this, I ask you: Is Chotiner’s piece fair or not fair? Representative of what the New Yorker should be? You decide.”

Obviously, if interested, you should check out Ward’s Substack.

Exceptional work

A couple of days old now, but please check out this superb work here from CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh, Sandi Sidhu, Julia Hollingsworth, Masoud Popalzai, Sitara Zamani, Abdul Basir Bina, Katie Polglase and Gianluca Mezzofiore:

“Horror at Kabul’s gate to freedom. Inside the final deadly moments of the US’ longest-running war.”

Question of the day

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a news conference Wednesday in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

NFL reporter Jim Trotter asked an excellent question of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about the league’s (and teams’) alarming lack of diversity in executive and head coaching positions. What’s especially notable is Trotter works for the league — he’s with NFL Media, which includes NFL Network and and is owned by the league.

Goodell was meeting with the media ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl. The link above has Trotter’s question and Goodell’s answer.

And speaking of the NFL and serious problems, the Washington organization remains under much-needed scrutiny for allegations of a toxic work environment.

Check out the latest as The Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala, Mark Maske and Sam Fortier write, “In sharp rebuke, NFL plans independent probe of sexual misconduct allegations against Daniel Snyder.”

And the Post also looked at coach Brian Flores, who is suing the league and individual teams over their hiring practices. It’s the Post’s Michael Lee with “Before he fought for Black coaches, Brian Flores fought for his own place in football.”

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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