News Release

Roots of Joe Rogan Controversy: “A War on Public Health”


While podcast commentator Joe Rogan continues to ignite controversy as a source of false claims about the Covid pandemic, the roots of such widespread falsehoods are examined in a recent investigative report — shedding light on “a nearly two-year campaign by right-wing and big business interests to force a return to normalcy to boost corporate profits amid a pandemic that is now surging once again thanks to Omicron.”

Journalist Alex Kotch is co-author of the report — “How the Koch Network Hijacked the War on Covid” — telling “the story of how that corporate-bankrolled campaign originally started, and how it has continued to supplant public health experts and hijack the governmental response to the pandemic.”

Kotch said today: “To trace the origin of Covid-19 disinformation we have to go back to the very beginning of the pandemic in the U.S., when libertarian billionaire-funded interest groups attacked lockdowns and other basic public safety measures to preserve their corporate profits, even as dead bodies piled up in refrigerator trucks in cities such as New York.”

The report says: “The war on public health measures began on March 20, 2020, when Americans For Prosperity, the right-wing nonprofit founded by Charles and David Koch, issued a press release calling on states to remain open…. To fight its war, the Koch network also relied on the astroturf roadmap behind the anti-government Tea Party movement, using its dark money apparatus to coordinate anti-lockdown protests.”

The report was produced by a partnership of the Center for Media and Democracy and The Daily Poster.

ALEX KOTCH,, @alexkotch

Kotch is senior investigative reporter at the Center for Media and Democracy. He was previously a staff writer for Sludge, TYT Investigates, International Business Times and Facing South. His work has been published by dozens of outlets including The Nation, The American Prospect, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch, and Vice. He is co-founder and executive director of the OptOut Media Foundation.