A vaccine scientist said he was “stalked” after podcast host Joe Rogan called for him to debate Democratic presidential candidate and anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
“Ugh I just was stalked in front of my home by a couple of antivaxers taunting me to debate RFKJr. … What is it with people?” Peter Hotez, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine, wrote on Twitter Sunday.
Hotez had shared a Vice article on vaccine misinformation in a conversation between Rogan and Kennedy on “The Joe Rogan Experience,” writing that “from all the online attacks I’m receiving after this absurd podcast, it’s clear many actually believe this nonsense.”
Rogan replied to Hotez’s post, calling for the scientist to debate the White House hopeful on his podcast.
“Peter, if you claim what RFKjr is saying is ‘misinformation’ I am offering you $100,000.00 to the charity of your choice if you’re willing to debate him on my show with no time limit,” Rogan said on Twitter.
“Joe, you have my cell, my email, I’m always willing to speak with you,” Hotez responded, but Rogan argued it was a “non answer.”
Twitter owner Elon Musk stepped in to contend that “he’s afraid of public debate, because he knows he’s wrong.” Kennedy told Peter “let’s finally have the respectful,congenial,informative debate that the American people deserve.”
But others piled on to defend Hotez.
Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding said on Twitter “the threat to Dr Hotez’s life is real,” and explained that “a hoard of anti-vaxxers sponsored by RFK Jr’s org swarmed” him and Hotez at a convention in Washington, D.C. He said Rogan “needs to not incite stalking/violence!”
Businessman Mark Cuban said “trying to bully Dr Hotez is ridiculous.”
Cuban said Rogan and Kennedy have producers and staff that would prepare them for any debate, and argued the podcast host would “get to control the conversation.”
Kennedy, who kicked off a Democratic presidential bid in April and is vying for the White House in a challenge to President Biden, has previously come under scrutiny for his claims about vaccines. YouTube recently removed an interview between Kennedy and commentator Jordan Peterson for violating its guidelines against vaccine misinformation.