Up until this point, Bernie Sanders has been considered one of the forerunners for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination, keeping up with Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg in almost every measure of the race so far. Following his 2016 defeat in the party’s primary, the Independent Senator from Vermont and his policies have remained extremely popular.
Sanders has also had a lot to overcome as of late, with plenty the mud being slung his way. He just received a lukewarm, unsolicited “endorsement” from someone that compared homosexuality to pedophilia, spoken out against trans youth, and used hate speech while hosting hate group leaders on his podcast.
This wraps up a whirlwind week for Senator Sanders. First, the New York Times completely shunned him in announcing their endorsement for the primary race. The newspaper railed against Sanders’ “rigid, untested and divisive” platform, and also wrote that he’s just another “over-promising, divisive figure,” which led them to instead get behind women Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar.
Then, 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton went on the offensive against Sanders in an interview that was released this week, claiming that “nobody likes him,” and that she “feels so bad that people got sucked into” his politics. Clinton later toned down her comments, claiming that she “will do whatever I can to support our nominee” against Donald Trump. Sanders is also under scrutiny for his part in non-profits that appears to be funding anti-Buttigieg advertising campaigns.
Sanders’ latest move may be even more damaging than all of that. Media personality and comedian Joe Rogan said on his latest episode of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast that he “will probably” vote for Sanders as the party’s nominee, and Sanders shared a video of the clip on his Twitter.
“I think I'll probably vote for Bernie… He’s been insanely consistent his entire life. He’s basically been saying the same thing, been for the same thing his whole life. And that in and of itself is a very powerful structure to operate from.” -Joe Rogan pic.twitter.com/fuQP0KwGGI
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 23, 2020
Rogan is known for previously making disparaging remarks that intentionally misgendered MMA athlete Fallon Fox in 2013. He doubted her gender identity, referring to her as “a fucking man”, and arguing that trans women shouldn’t compete in sports with cisgender people.
Unfortunately, that was not Rogan’s only alleged transphobic – or anti-LGBTQ, or discriminatory, or prejudicial – remark. It gets worse from here:
- Rogan has defended his repeated use of the word ‘f***ot’, while maintaining that he would retire it since 2010.
- He tweeted in 2014 that while he is “100% in favor” of trans people, it is “insane” for people “to pretend that a male frame and a female frame are the same.“
- That year, he also claimed that there was a study indicating that transgender athletes in high school were ‘dominating’ their peers, and that “they” only mattered to him when they compete in sports. “Just stop with that. Just stop with that and we’re going to be fine,” he’s recorded as saying.
- Rogan said in 2019 that trans youth should not be allowed to decide their gender, and he supports banning puberty blockers for them.
- Rogan previously sat with hate group founder Gavin McInnes and conflated homosexuality with child molestation – “I wonder how much of homosexual behavior could be, uh, induced by molestation at an early age though…it seems to be a real factor…” the podcaster said. “There’s most certainly gay acts that are committed on young people, and horrifically, those people tend to, on a pretty frequent basis, do the same thing…”
- He also shared his platform with Milo Yiannopoulos several times, then took credit for his “downfall” along with “The Amazing Athiest” TJ Kirk after Yiannopoulos lost his book deal – among other things – for comments made on both of their podcast. Both Rogan and Kirk have previously given a platform to Alex Jones as well.
- Kirk himself “has become heavily involved in anti-feminism,” previously suggesting that a victim of sexual assault should be ‘raped again’ and criticizing actress Alicia Vikander of having “too small” breasts.
- Rogan’s also misinterpreted a study on trans youth, citing a conflation by conservative outlets such as The Blaze, twisting it to fit the narrative that transgender people regret transitioning as children. Cecilia Dhejne, the author of the study, refuted their claims.
- Rogan sat with right-wing writer Ben Shapiro and referred to the push for transgender equality as “compulsory” and “rabid.” He’s also mocked gender pronouns in segments of his podcast.
- Rogan also received criticism for racist and sexist remarks, such as saying that Hillary Clinton would perform oral sex for money, women that want to be President are “f**kng greedy bitches.”
- He’s also said racial slurs such as the ‘N’ word, and in 2013 Rogan compared a Black-dominant area to the movie Planet of the Apes in an episode of the show. He then impersonates them, followed by saying that he’s fine with the stereotype that Black people talk throughout movie showings, all while acknowledging his behavior was ‘racist’.
In response to The Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson’s request, the Sanders campaign issued a comment on the issue saying that the Senator is not compromising his values, but is open to “sharing a big tent” with people that will help them “defeat Donald Trump and the powerful special interests.”
I just got this comment from the Sanders campaign over the LGBTQ backlash for accepting Joe Rogan's endorsement.
"Sharing a big tent requires including those who do not share every one of our beliefs, while always making clear that we will never compromise our values." pic.twitter.com/jpZv98ZzOF
— Chris Johnson (@chrisjohnson82) January 24, 2020
This comes just under two months after Sanders had to revoke his own endorsement of Cenk Uygur, the founder of The Young Turks Network and a candidate for a U.S. Representative seat in California, over his past homophobic and sexist comments. Trans actress Angelica Ross had to leave social media late last year following intense harassment from self-distinguished Bernie Sanders supporters.
Sanders does have a pro-LGBTQ record that dates back to the 1970s, including voting against the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) in the 1990s and co-sponsoring the current edition of the Equality Act. Sanders’ embrace of Rogan’s endorsement however, coupled with his now-fired organizer who openly used gay slurs on Twitter, and the several LGBTQ+ events that the candidate has failed to make throughout the campaign, does not give confidence that the LGBTQ+ community is of high importance to his platform.
The Human Rights Campaign has harsh words for the Sanders campaign as well. Their President Alphonso David said in a statement that “Given Rogan’s comments, it is disappointing that the Sanders campaign has accepted and promoted the endorsement.”
“The Sanders campaign must reconsider this endorsement and the decision to publicize the views of someone who has consistently attacked and dehumanized marginalized people,” the statement concluded.