“On my podcast with Joe Rogan he offered to moderate a debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. It would be four hours with no live audience. Just the two candidates, cameras, and their vision of how to move this country forward. Who wants this?” tweeted MMA podcaster Tim Kennedy today. “I do!” replied the president, to much surprise and discussion. But Trump has posted content from Joe Rogan’s feeds and news-adjacent spaces several times in the past. His delighted response should, ultimately, surprise no one.
Tim Kennedy, Joe Rogan, and Trump share one very similar dark sentiment: they all happily and unapologetically embrace bro culture proclivities. Last year, Fox News interviewed Kennedy about toxic masculinity in America. Kennedy was defensive about it, even going so far as to suggest that masculinity itself is being “demonized”. Rogan echoed those sentiments on his show last year when confronted with discussion about toxic masculinity, calling it a “dumb phrase.” During the 2016 election cycle, President Trump defended his toxic comments then as simply “locker talk.” Four years later in this next election cycle, everyone watching can see that nothing has changed on the matter. If anything, it seems to just continue to pour in without care or accountability for those it reaches.
Joe Rogan is colloquially known as “Brogan” for a reason. And he’s said himself that he would “rather vote for Trump than Biden” in the past, right around the time that he officially endorsed Bernie Sanders. Rogan’s specific lines of attack on Biden — and there have been many — are extremely similar to Trump’s lines of attack, with claims that Biden is “mentally compromised” and doesn’t know where he is. In April, he referred to Biden as “old” and “stumbling” while at the same time saying on his podcast that “the pressure of being president of the United States is something no one has ever prepared for. The only one who seems to be fine with it is Trump, oddly enough. He doesn’t seem to be aging at all or in any sort of decline.” Gleeful Twitter followers responded that he was going to “make liberal heads explode”.
Little wonder, then, that Trump would rush to want to be “moderated” by Rogan. And given his long past of public commentary on the Democratic nominee, anybody who thinks Rogan has a chance of being an impartial moderator worthy of a serious political debate is downright foolish.
Recently, Trump retweeted a sobering comment from Joe Rogan’s show. In the retweeted segment, Rogan discussed pain with former champion Mike Tyson. Tyson commented about how the idea of being able to hurt someone was “orgasmic.” At a delicate and divisive time in our nation’s politics, this conversation being retweeted by the president should frighten folks. This is the atmosphere the president wants the debate to take place in.
It should go without saying that the current moment calls for diplomacy and care at best, and neutrality at worst. Putting Donald Trump in a room with a celebrated leader of “bro” culture and asking him to “debate” Joe Biden is self-evidently a recipe for disaster. The president knows it’s a rigged debate, and that’s the kind he’s most interested in — because proud bros have never been interested in a level playing field.
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