In what is quickly becoming a watershed moment for alternative media, Bernie Sanders’ appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience amassed over 8.5 million views in just 8 days. Making it the 8th most watched Joe Rogan Experience episode on YouTube, right behind Alex Jones & Eddie Bravo, who appeared on the show 2 years ago. On top of these YouTube plays, there are surely many more podcast downloads unaccounted for, meaning this hour-long interview has been listened to by potentially tens of millions of people.
To put that in perspective, the most recent Democratic Debate had 9 million viewers. Bernie’s episode with Joe Rogan reached almost as many people, and again, it’s just an hour of Bernie selling his agenda without the media spectacle that was the CNN debates.
The interview itself was simply Bernie being Bernie, unabated and aided by Joe Rogan’s very personable interview style. A style which has gotten him in trouble with some on the left when he seems to give Ben Shapiro and Alex Jones a freewheeling discussion on his platform. But that same style showed Bernie in his best light to millions of people who may never have gotten a chance to see Bernie in action.
From an in-depth discussion of Medicare for All and national healthcare as a goal various politicians have championed since Teddy Roosevelt. To Bernie’s perspective on the moneyed interests and how to best fight them, Joe Rogan brought out unabashed Bernie Sanders. And his audience responded, many seeing a different side of a man the media has painted as far more radical than he is for years.
These comments highlight two things in my mind. One, the media utterly fails at allowing candidates to communicate their message as they see it to the people.
As Bernie and Rogan discussed, the recent Democratic debates are a great example of just that. The entire thing was framed as a sporting eventesque battle between the left and the moderates. At most candidates were given a minute or two of speaking time, with the last thirty seconds being shouted down by a moderator.
Rogan on the other hand, just asked the simple questions, what do you think of the country, what are your goals for healthcare, how do you accomplish those goals, how do you handle the mass shooting problem, are pharmaceutical drugs connected, ect… And as an interview, it delivered more information on Bernie Sanders and his actual ideas than any of the major media outlets have in months.
The second thing these comments highlight is the power of speaking to an audience one might miss otherwise. Previously during the campaign Bernie Sanders spoke to a Fox News audience during a Fox Town Hall. And he took flak from some on the left for doing so, but the argument then is the same given to those who push back against appearing on the Joe Rogan Experience. Essentially, don’t legitimize these voices, Fox News for being Fox News and Joe Rogan for extending his platform to the likes of Alex Jones. However, Bernie Sanders showed both with his Fox News Town Hall and this Joe Rogan interview, that there are MILLIONS of people who get their commentary from these platforms, and using their platform to spread your message is a great way to reach people who may never hear it otherwise.
Like Lee J. Carter said, Bernie Sanders gets it. He knows how to reach people. And his appearance on Joe Rogan is just one more instance where his campaign has engaged and energized people politicians traditionally overlook.