Earlier this week when his campaign swung through Los Angeles, Sen. Bernie Sanders sat down for an interview with Joe Rogan, the podcast host, standup comic and MMA commentator. His show, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” is known for its huge following (nearly 6 million YouTube subscribers), eclectic guest list and long conversations that can sometimes reach three hours. Published Tuesday, the Sanders interview outlining his platform has already reached 6.1 million views and spent part of the week as the No. 1 trending video on YouTube.
Sanders is the third Democratic candidate to go on Rogan’s show this cycle, joining entrepreneur Andrew Yang (who credited the appearance with boosting his campaign in its early days) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. The Sanders video already has far more views than the Yang (3.4 million) and Gabbard (2.2 million) interviews.
Rogan has been criticized for opening his large platform and noncombative interview style to individuals who push “alt-right” ideologies, including conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has appeared on the show multiple times. However, many progressives have lauded Sanders for reaching out to an audience that likely has not heard his policies before. As Luke Savage writes in the leftist magazine Jacobin, “By appearing on the show, Sanders successfully exposed Rogan’s audience to left-wing ideas many have probably never encountered before, without the compromising filter usually applied to them by the mainstream media or the typical bad-faith actors on the right.”
The reviews for Sanders’s appearance, both in the YouTube comments and on Reddit, are overwhelmingly positive, citing Sanders’s answers about money in politics, health care reform, mental health and legalizing marijuana. Although perhaps the main takeaway came from the interview’s final question and the senator’s promise that he would go back on Rogan’s show to tell the truth about aliens were he elected president.
“One last question: If you got into the office and found out something about aliens, if you found out something about UFOs, would you let us know?” asked Rogan.
Laughing, Sanders said that his wife would demand he let the public know but that he didn’t have any access to records in his current position.
“You don’t have any access?” said Rogan.
“Honestly, I don’t,” replied Sanders.
“But you’ll let us know?” asked Rogan one more time.
“We’ll announce it on this show, how’s that?” concluded Sanders.
This isn’t the first time aliens have been in the headlines this summer, as a viral (and farcical) Facebook event planning to storm Area 51 — a U.S. military facility in Nevada where some conspiracy theorists say alien technology is being kept — grew so big that the Pentagon actually issued a statement warning against it. Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta have also expressed interest in aliens, with Reid funding the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which from 2007 to 2012 investigated unexplained aerial sightings.
The Sanders campaign didn’t respond to a question from Yahoo News about whether the Vermont lawmaker had seen any noticeable boost in new donors after his interview with Rogan.
It is not the first time during this campaign Sanders has attempted to reach a different audience. He received positive reviews for his Fox News town hall in which he rallied the crowd in support of his Medicare for All plan. The event drew the ire of President Trump, an avid viewer of the network who counts many of its hosts as counselors.
“What’s with @FoxNews?” Trump tweeted at the time.
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