A Doctor Was Deluged in Harassment After Joe Rogan Discussed an Obviously Fake Tweet on Air

Rogan later offered his “sincere apologies” on Twitter.
Joe Rogan wears a black sweatshirt and sits in front of a microphone.
Rogan during the episode of his show discussing the tweet. Screenshot via PowerfulJRE/YouTube.

Joe Rogan has belatedly apologized after doing an entire segment about a clearly fake and  intentionally absurd tweet about vaccines which was attributed to a doctor. Rogan ultimately pulled the segment from the episode where it appeared, but Dr. Natalia Solenkova, an intensive care doctor based in Florida, is still facing a deluge of harassment over the faked tweet and has made her account private.  


Rogan’s platforming of the fake tweet—and the backlash that followed—was outlined in a Twitter thread on Wednesday by Washington Post tech reporter Taylor Lorenz. Lorenz also pointed out that the fake tweet was amplified by other large right-wing accounts as well as other doctors. A tweet from a small right-wing account sharing a video of the segment has been viewed over two million times. The tweeted falsely attributed to Solenkova read, “I will never regret the vaccine. Even if it turns out I injected actual poison and have only days to live. My heart and is was [sic] in the right place. I got vaccinated out of love, while anti-vaxxers did everything out of hate. If I have to die because of my love for the world, then so be it. But I will never regret or apologize for it.” 

Even if the absurd sentiments in the tweet weren’t enough of a red flag, the tweet’s date was formatted incorrectly, and its character count was 100 over the limit allowed by the app. None of that, of course, was a deterrent for Rogan, who has played a major role in spreading COVID misinformation to more mainstream audiences; among other things, he has been an enthusiastic cheerleader for ivermectin, a purported treatment for the disease that (still) shows no signs of being remotely effective. Rogan has hosted Bret Weinstein, a former Evergreen professor turned COVID vaccine skeptic and ivermectin cheerleader, several times; Weinstein was his guest when he discussed the fake tweet attributed to Solenkova. 


“It’s a fascinating perspective,” Rogan said. He accused her of “having the most uncharitable view of people who didn’t get vaccinated,” including himself. “The idea that you wouldn’t be upset that you were duped into injecting actual poison… is so insane.” 

Rogan and Weinstein discussed the tweet for about 11 minutes, with it displayed in a corner. (Among other things, Rogan claimed that Solenkova clearly doesn’t “know about the VAERS system,” a vaccine injury database often misused and misunderstood by the anti-vax world.) Elsewhere in the episode, the pair gave credence to the still unproven and increasingly politicized lab leak theory, and agreed that, referring to COVID as a whole, they would forgive those who “had it wrong,” in Weinstein’s words. 

Rogan tweeted this morning that he had been “informed” the tweet was fake; it’s unclear who informed him. His tweet read, in full, “I was informed last night that this tweet is fake.  The show was already out, so we initially decided to post a notice saying we got tricked, then later thought it best to just delete it from the episode. My sincere apologies to everyone, especially the person who got hoaxed.” 

Weinstein also got involved, tweeting, “JRE #1919 will be taken down temporarily by Joe's team to address something we discovered after its release. A tweet we discussed turns out not to be authentic, and there's no way to preserve that part while protecting the person who was being impersonated. #1919 will return soon.” (The version of the episode currently live on Spotify seems to have this segment removed.) 

All of this is an interesting commentary, so to speak, on the level of fact-checking and due diligence that went into this particular episode. The apology also seems to not have been particularly effective; the tweet is still widely circulating on anti-vaccine Twitter. 

Solenkova could not immediately be reached for comment; Rogan did not immediately reply to a request for comment sent through his website.