CNN devoted an entire segment attempting to understand why Joe Rogan is so massively popular, and was mocked severely for needing an expert to explain to the flailing cable news network as to why "The Joe Rogan Experience" has millions of loyal viewers.
The segment begins by rehashing the accusations that Rogan spread COVID-19 misinformation, which the prolific podcaster has refuted. The CNN segment also brought up the controversy swirling around a resurfaced video compilation of Rogan using a racial slur, which he has since apologized for.
A CNN narrator says during the video, "Even with these controversies, Rogan remains wildly popular. So the question is – why?"
The cable news network included commentary from Gabriel Wisnewski-Parks – a research fellow in the Department of Communication Studies at UNC Greensboro. Wisnewski-Parks claims to have "probably spent hundreds of hours listening to Joe Rogan."
"What makes him so magnetic to his audience is his very vocal resistance to tribalism," Wisnewski-Parks told CNN Business.
Wisnewski-Parks explained that Rogan welcomes a variety of guests from all over the political spectrum – from InfoWars founder Alex Jones to conservative commentator Ben Shapiro to democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to progressive activist Cornel West.
Wisnewski-Parks notes that Rogan's wide-ranging variety of guests "really resonates with people."
"One other connection we can make that I don't think should be overestimated is Joe Rogan's background as a stand-up comedian, this archetype of the comedian as the truth-teller," Wisnewski-Parks added.
Wisnewski-Parks said Rogan's apology likely makes him "even more credible" in the minds of his fans, who will see his current "learning" situation as "relatable."
"Joe Rogan's podcast absolutely has the potential to be dangerous, especially when we're talking about communication over a public health issue," Wisnewski-Parks said. "But it can be just as dangerous if we're going to start censoring because we need to figure out how to keep open those lines of communication in a way that is both critical and willing to question Joe Rogan's authority but at the same time recognizes that his appeal and his popularity are already entrenched in his audience. And that's not going anywhere."
Culture writer Kat Rosenfield attempted to explain Rogan's popularity to CNN, "Joe Rogan does have these off-the-cuff conversations, and I think that there's a reason why that format has become so popular."
Rosenfield points out that Rogan's "audience feels they're being trusted to draw their own conclusions, and that stands in really stark contrast the way that a lot of other outlets have sort of shifted in the direction of covering the news and analyzing the news in a way that feels that its really pushing the audience towards making the proper conclusions."
CNN was roasted online for needing an expert to explain why "The Joe Rogan Experience" is popular and has a loyal fanbase.
National Review senior writer Dan McLaughlin snarked, "CNN had to find an outside expert to explain how you would produce programming that attracts an audience."
Political commentator Drew Holden wrote on Twitter, "CNN requiring expert help to understand why anyone listens to the world’s most popular podcaster is painfully on-brand."
Daily Wire writer Virginia Kruta said, "Someone unironically researched 'Joe Rogan's appeal,' and someone at CNN greenlighted this segment. It's not possible to mock this any more than it mocks itself."
Washington Examiner writer Becket Adams tweeted, "I may or may not have laughed out loud at the fact CNN had to bring in a third party expert to explain ratings and consumer interests."
Radio station general manager and journalism lecturer Scot Bertram said Rogan is the new Rush Limbaugh in regards to "hate" from the legacy media and bewilderment of how anyone could listen to him.
Rogan garners an estimated 11 million viewers per episode. For the month of January, CNN averaged 633,000 primetime viewers, which is down a whopping 77% compared to January 2021. Meanwhile, Fox News averaged 2.24 million total primetime viewers last month, according to Deadline.