Joe Rogan and Sanjay Gupta
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Joe Rogan and Sanjay Gupta
'You don't have to endorse Rogan to abhor CNN's coverage of this topic,' WaPo media critic Erik Wemple wrote

CNN has renewed criticism of its journalistic ethics after issuing a blistering statement in response to podcast giant Joe Rogan.

Last week, CNN remained silent as Rogan accused the liberal network of "lying" over its coverage of his use of ivermectin after he announced he tested positive for COVID, a treatment its anchors repeatedly characterized as "horse dewormer" and a "livestock drug" despite the common human form of ivermectin having been prescribed to Rogan by a doctor.

Rogan intensely grilled CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta during his appearance on The Joe Rogan Podcast. Rogan forced Gupta to admit his colleagues should not have said such claims about his use of ivermectin.

CNN was widely panned for pushing its false narrative about Rogan and Gupta was also criticized for his attempt to spin the disastrous interview.

However, more than a week after Rogan's exchange with Gupta went viral, Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple obtained a statement from CNN, which attacked the influential podcast host instead of responding to the criticism that plagued the network in recent days.

"The heart of this debate has been purposely confused and ultimately lost," CNN told 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.

Notably, the statement did not acknowledge Gupta's stunning admission.

Wemple called out CNN's coverage of Rogan, citing its anchors and commentators pushing the "horse dewormer" narrative.

"They turn up a consistent formulation from multiple CNN voices that surely wasn't a sober recitation of the facts," Wemple wrote. "By highlighting that ivermectin is a horse dewormer, and downplaying that ivermectin has important uses for people, CNN facilitates a certain assumption among its viewers. Namely, that Rogan had been haunting the aisles of Tractor Supply."

While the Washington Post media critic acknowledged CNN made "some good points" regarding Rogan's rhetoric on COVID, he concluded that its statement "sounds more like the work of an advocacy group than a journalism outfit."

"The 'issue,' actually, begins and ends with the integrity of CNN's content. If we take Rogan's prescription claim at face value — and CNN hasn't challenged it — then the network's coverage was slanted in some cases and straight-up incorrect in others," Wemple wrote.

"So in this instance, you don't have to endorse Rogan to abhor CNN's coverage of this topic. Here's a network, after all, that prides itself on impeccable factual hygiene, a place where there's no conceptual hair too fine to split, no political statement too sprawling to flyspeck. It's tough living by your own standards."

Substack journalist Glenn Greenwald reacted,
"Without saying it explicitly, this WashPost column by their media reporter documents that (a) CNN lied about Joe Rogan yet (b) defended its lies and refused to retract them or even correct them, which (c) conflicts with CNN's professed role as warriors against disinformation."
Greenwald echoed Wemple's comment that "CNN's statement sounds more like the work of an advocacy group than a journalism outfit," writing "That same phrase describes what CNN does every single day."

Fourth Watch media critic Steve Krakauer offered a blistering reaction.

"CNN has been on a path away from truth for a while. This statement is the nail in the coffin," Krakauer wrote. "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."

Krakauer, a former CNN producer, later added, "It's a slap in the face to the good journalists there, many of whom have personally told me how embarrassed they are by these unnecessary PR credibility-destroying own goals."

"This CNN statement is the ultimate encapsulation of Narrative over Facts. CNN is unbothered by the reality they put false information about Joe Rogan out there because they think they're on the right side of history, or something," independent journalist Zaid Jilani tweeted.

Politico reporter Alex Thompson called out CNN, tweeting "Rogan should be called out for his bulls--- but CNN should be too cause they said banana but it was an apple."

Reason Magazine editor at large Matt Welch reacted, "Gross work from CNN here."

"CNN's position is that, because Joe Rogan dispensed irresponsible advice, they don't have an obligation to cover him accurately. That's pretty embarrassing," Insider columnist Josh Barro wrote.

"CNN has officially ceased being a news organization," RealClearPolitics co-founder and president Tom Bevan declared.

During the three-hour interview, Rogan took Gupta to task over how his network portrayed the medicine he took that was prescribed by a doctor.

"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 6.5 million views on Twitter.

Rogan offered kind words to Gupta following the tense sit-down, writing on Instagram, "The reality is that disagreement was a very small part of what was overall a very enjoyable conversation. Sanjay is a really nice person and I like him a lot. After our time together I consider him a friend."