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WaPo columnist connects Joe Rogan's podcast to COVID death of her former co-worker — even though she has 'no idea' if he even listened to Rogan

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Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

A Washington Post columnist has come under fire for her Sunday piece that connects Joe Rogan's podcast to the COVID-related death of her former colleague — even though writer Margaret Sullivan admitted in her column that she has "no idea" if her former co-worker even listened to Rogan.

What are the details?

Sullivan began her column slamming Rogan's video address late last month in the wake of musicians like Neil Young leaving Spotify in protest of Rogan's podcast being on the platform when they insist it's full of COVID-19 and vaccine "misinformation."

Then she said Rogan "offered the worst kind of non-apology: 'If I pissed you off, I’m sorry.'”

"What I didn’t hear from Rogan was any remorse that he might have done harm when he held forth about his own bogus belief that healthy young people don’t need to get vaccinated, or when he failed to challenge a guest who promised that the drug ivermectin would extinguish the virus altogether, or when he allowed another guest to spout theories about how Americans are essentially being hypnotized about covid by the media, and comparing the situation to Nazi Germany," she added.

With that, Sullivan soon shifted to last week's COVID-related death of her former colleague, Miguel Rodriguez, a 47-year-old sports reporter for the Buffalo News.

"He was overweight and asthmatic; in other words, very much at risk. And he was unvaccinated," Sullivan wrote.

Then she added this tidbit: "I don’t know for sure whether getting vaccination and booster shots would have saved Miggy’s life. And I have no idea whether he had ever listened to Joe Rogan’s podcast, or what his precise reasons were for not being vaccinated."

Sullivan then explained that her understanding is that Rodriguez was being pushed to get the shots but that he and his family were hesitant and skeptical. She finished off her piece imagining if Rogan "were to use his incredibly powerful voice" to "counter some of the destructive bilge" about COVID and vaccines "instead of adding to it."

"One thing that requires no imagination is that Miguel’s funeral is Tuesday morning," Sullivan concluded. "His younger sister misses him, her father told me, and doesn’t yet realize that her big brother is never coming back."

Backlash

As of late Monday afternoon, Sullivan's tweet about her piece was getting massively ratioed — nearly 7,000 comments compared to just over 2,000 likes — and notable individuals took to Twitter to rip the thrust of her column:

  • Ben Shapiro of the Daily Wire tweeted, "So her friend dies, and she immediately starts standing on his grave to smash Joe Rogan, who she has no evidence has anything to do with his death. Disgusting. And predictable."
  • Steve Krakauer, executive producer of "The Megyn Kelly Show," called Sullivan's column "morally bankrupt" and added, "co-opting the death of a 'beloved' colleague to spread pro-censorship misinformation — because if he HAD listened to Joe Rogan, he’[d] have been urged to get vaccinated, as Rogan has said many times for someone who is 'overweight and asthmatic.'"
  • Dana Loesch tweeted, "Blaming your friend’s death on a podcast you admit he may not have listened to doesn’t sound like grief, it sounds like convenient exploitation."
  • Reason associate editor Liz Wolfe added, "It's obviously incredibly disrespectful of Sullivan to trot out a colleague's death like this, but that grossness aside...at what point do we say: People have made their choices. They're not mindlessly manipulated by Rogan, they have access to ALL kinds of information out there."
  • Joe Borelli, New York City Council minority leader, ripped Sullivan for taking "8 paragraphs before even mentioning your former colleague, and only so you can tell us that you have no idea whether he listened to Rogan at all ... I’m glad I don’t have 'friends' like you in my life."
  • Javier E. David, a finance editor for Yahoo, offered a blunt observation: "Imagine thinking this was a good way to honor a colleague. Shameful."
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