- The Washington Times - Friday, September 18, 2020

Joe Rogan apologized Friday for boosting a debunked rumor blaming left-wing activists for wildfires ravaging Oregon during the most recent episode of his popular online podcast and video series.

The host of “The Joe Rogan Experience” said he made a mistake and acted irresponsibly when he spread the discredited conspiracy theory during his podcast Thursday.

“I need to make an apology and a retraction,” Mr. Rogan said in a video statement he shared on Instagram. “I made a mistake. I f–d up.”

Mr. Rogan, 53, ignited a firestorm after pushing the false claim during a podcast episode released the day before.

“They’ve arrested people for lighting forest fires up there. They’ve arrested left-wing people for lighting these forest fires,” asserted Mr. Rogan. “You know, air quote ‘activists.’ And this is something that’s also not widely being reported – that people have actually been arrested for lighting fires up there.”

Portland’s FBI office dismissed that rumor days earlier as dangerous misinformation, however.

“FBI Portland and local law enforcement agencies have been receiving reports that extremists are responsible for setting wildfires in Oregon,” it said last week. “With our state and local partners, the FBI has investigated several such reports and found them to be untrue. Conspiracy theories and misinformation take valuable resources away [from] local fire and police agencies working around the clock to bring these fires under control. Please help our entire community by only sharing validated information from official sources.”

Video of the podcast episode uploaded to Mr. Rogan’s channel on YouTube had been viewed more than one million times before he apologized Friday.

It was not clear what kind of reach his remarks found on other platforms like audio-streaming service Spotify, which recently began hosting his show under a deal reportedly worth $100 million.

But they quickly sparked a negative response on Twitter, where social media users lashed out at the podcast star for boosting the debunked claim. Claire McCaskill, the former Democratic senator from Missouri, called Mr. Rogan a lying jerk; and ESPN’s Keith Olbermann described the podcast host as horse excrement.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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