Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) campaign released a statement on Friday after receiving backlash for touting Joe Rogan’s endorsement, telling supporters, “sharing a big tent requires including those who do not share every one of our beliefs.”
The socialist senator sparked outrage after tweeting a quote from the Joe Rogan Experience host, who said, “I think I’ll probably vote for Bernie… He’s been insanely consistent his entire life”:
“I think I'll probably vote for Bernie… He’s been insanely consistent his entire life. He’s basically been saying the same thing, been for the same thing his whole life. And that in and of itself is a very powerful structure to operate from.” -Joe Rogan pic.twitter.com/fuQP0KwGGI
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 23, 2020
His campaign faced backlash from some on the left, who claim that Rogan has made “racist” and “transphobic” remarks over the years.
CNN, which has been accused of exhibiting bias against Sanders particularly following the last Democrat debate in Des Moines, Iowa, detailed why some perceive Rogan’s support as problematic:
Rogan, a libertarian-leaning broadcaster with a public persona in the mold of Howard Stern, is a divisive figure who has said the N-word on his show and in 2013 questioned — using offensive language — whether a transgender MMA fighter should be able to compete against other women.
“If you want to be a woman in the bedroom and, you know, you want to play house and all of that other sh-t and you feel like you have, your body is really a woman’s body trapped inside a man’s frame and so you got a operation, that’s all good in the hood,” Rogan said. “But you can’t fight chicks.”
Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David was just one of many who called on Sanders to reject Rogan’s support.
“We should always be willing to educate individuals who operate from a place of bias but we should not directly or indirectly validate or celebrate them,” David stated, adding that it was “disappointing that the Sanders campaign has accepted and promoted the endorsement.”
“The Sanders campaign must reconsider this endorsement and the decision to publicize the views of someone who has consistently attacked and dehumanized marginalized people,” David claimed.
— Jodi Jacobson (@jljacobson) January 24, 2020
Let's be clear : By promoting Joe Rogan Sanders is dog whistling that his campaign is a safe space for aggrieved white bigots because he'll keep those radical blacks and their 'identity politics' in check. He's been dancing around the message for years.
— Jason Johnson (@DrJasonJohnson) January 24, 2020
I really hope (white) women learned the lesson in 2016 that misogyny embedded in campaigns and among candidates’ supporters won’t stop when they win. It only gets worse.
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) January 25, 2020
People who are the core of the Democratic Party, ie black people, reasonably do not to be in a coalition that includes Joe Rogan. And reasonably are suspicious of anyone who does.
— jelani cobb (@jelani9) January 25, 2020
— Bradley Whitford (@BradleyWhitford) January 25, 2020
However, the Sanders campaign is defending its decision to embrace support from Rogan.
Sanders’ national press secretary Briahna Joy Gray said in a statement:
The goal of our campaign is to build a multi-racial, multi-generational movement that is large enough to defeat Donald Trump and the powerful special interests whose greed and corruption is the root cause of the outrageous inequality in America. Sharing a big tent requires including those who do not share every one of our beliefs, while always making clear that we will never compromise our values. The truth is that standing together in solidarity, we share the values of love and respect that will move us in the direction of a more humane, more equal world.
In addition to Sanders, Andrew Yang (D) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, (D-HI) have appeared on Rogan’s show. According to the New York Post’s Jon Levine, former Vice President Joe Biden (D), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) also requested appearances but were ultimately denied:
So anyone who thinks Warren is on some mythical plane of wokeness that might preclude her from embracing Joe Rogan — she's not
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) January 24, 2020