CNN issued a bizarre statement last week responding to Rogan’s accusations that the liberal network had “lied” about his use of ivermectin amid his recovery from COVID, something its anchors and pundits repeatedly referred to as a “horse dewormer” and a “livestock drug” even though Rogan had been prescribed the human form by a doctor.
“The heart of this debate has been purposely confused and ultimately lost,” CNN told Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple on Thursday. “It’s never been about livestock versus human dosage of Ivermectin. The issue is that a powerful voice in the media, who by example and through his platform, sowed doubt in the proven and approved science of vaccines while promoting the use of an unproven treatment for covid-19 — a drug developed to ward off parasites in farm animals.”
“The only thing CNN did wrong here was bruise the ego of a popular podcaster who pushed dangerous conspiracy theories and risked the lives of millions of people in doing so,” the network added.
In his piece titled, “The media slant on Joe Rogan and covid has been wrong. Journalists must do better,” Von Drehle argued “what makes a good reporter” is “the hunger for knowledge: curiosity, open-mindedness, independence and a willingness to think anew” but that political reporters “rarely know much of anything.”
“In my experience, a journalist who admits uncertainty and owns up to mistakes is ultimately more trusted, not less so,” Von Drehle wrote Friday. “For this reason, CNN is wrong to double down on its smug reports that vaccine-skeptic podcaster Joe Rogan treated his coronavirus with ‘horse dewormer.’ He did not, as nearly as I can determine. Rogan’s covid-19 was treated, he said, with a number of medicines, including the anti-parasite drug ivermectin — the same medication that former president Jimmy Carter’s foundation has used to fight the scourge of river blindness in Africa and Latin America. Like many drugs, ivermectin also has veterinary applications.”
Von Drehle acknowledged “there isn’t a lot of evidence” that ivermectin is an effective treatment against COVID “but that doesn’t mean Rogan ate horse dewormer.”
“You don’t fight disinformation with disinformation. Not if you’re a good reporter,” Von Drehle wrote. CNN’s pundits might not have sneered at Rogan if he had toed the line on coronavirus vaccines — even if it is a line that is underinformed and overconfident… The vaccines are new. There are unanswered questions about long-term effectiveness and potentially unforeseen effects. And even vaccinated people keep dying — albeit at much lower rates. It’s understandable that some — such as Rogan — will air doubts. CNN shouldn’t be stigmatizing their natural skepticism.”
“It is not the journalist’s job to tell people what to think. The job is to question, to learn and to share those learnings — as well as their limits. In weighing the credibility of sources, we must first examine ourselves,” Von Drehle added.
Earlier this month, Rogan sat down with CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and grilled him over how his network portrayed the medicine he took amid his coronavirus recovery.
“Does it bother you that the network you work for out and out lied, just outright lied about me taking horse dewormer?” Rogan grilled Gupta.
“They shouldn’t have said that,” Gupta admitted.
“Why did they do that?” Rogan asked.
“I don’t know,” Gupta responded.
“You didn’t ask? You’re the medical guy over there!” Rogan exclaimed.
“I didn’t ask,” Gupta said. “I should’ve asked before coming on this podcast.”
That exchange reached over 6.6 million views on Twitter.
Notably, CNN’s fiery statement defending its coverage of Rogan did not acknowledge Gupta’s stunning admission.
CNN was torched by critics for remaining defiant. Washington Post’s Erik Wemple said CNN’s statement “sounds more like the work of an advocacy group than a journalism outfit.”
Fourth Watch media critic Steve Krakauer reacted, “CNN has been on a path away from truth for a while. This statement is the nail in the coffin. They got it wrong. They got caught. And they have chosen to dig their heels in rather than seek to correct the record, for their audience and their integrity.”
Politico reporter Alex Thompson tweeted, “Rogan should be called out for his bulls— but CNN should be too cause they said banana but it was an apple.”