Wildly popular podcaster Joe Rogan once again pushed the baseless conspiracy theory that the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection was a false flag orchestrated by the federal government, adding that pro-Trump rioter Ray Epps “clearly instigated” the attack.
Earlier this month, Epps sued Fox News for defaming him with the “fantastical story” that he was an undercover federal agent who incited the violence at the Capitol in an effort to take down former President Donald Trump and his supporters.
Rogan, who signed a $200 million contract with Spotify in 2020, has repeatedly embraced the unsubstantiated claim that federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies used “agent provocateurs” such as Epps to manipulate the crowd to attack the Capitol. In past episodes, Rogan said the intelligence community had a “vested interest in this going sideways,” adding that “if somebody wanted to disparage a political party or to maybe have some sort of a justification for getting some influential person like Donald Trump offline, that would be the way they would do it.”
While hosting comedian Jim Gaffigan on his July 28 broadcast, the conspiracy-peddling podcaster once again peddled the notion that the FBI and CIA had helped engineer the chaos on that fateful day, noting that the agencies have a history of disrupting “peaceful protests” in order to unsympathetically portray demonstrators as violent.
“The Jan. 6 thing is bad, but also, the intelligence agencies were involved in provoking people into the Capitol Building. That’s a fact,” Rogan proclaimed before invoking Epps’ supposed involvement in pushing rioters to attack the Capitol.
While calling it a “fact” that the federal government utilized “agent provocateurs” on Jan. 6 while citing Epps, he also asserted that he still doesn’t know if Epps was actually working with the FBI. Instead, he was merely asking questions and noting other people seemed to believe that Epps was an undercover agent.
“I don’t know, but I do know that every other, I think that every other person who was involved in Jan. 6, who was involved in coordinating a break-in into the Capitol and then instigating people, they were all arrested,” he insisted. “This guy wasn’t. Not only that, but they were defending him in The New York Times, The Washington Post, all these different things saying Fox News has unjustly accused him of instigating when he clearly instigated, he did it on camera. I don’t know if he was a fed. I know a lot of people think he was a fed.”
According to Rogan, the reason why the intelligence community was so determined to frame Trump during the Jan. 6 riots—a protest to stop the 2020 presidential election from being certified—was due to the ex-president’s hatred of the so-called “deep state.”
“Trump was very open about his disdain for the intelligence agencies,” Rogan said. “Throughout history, people of unchecked power and unchecked influence have enemies, and Trump was their enemy.”
He added that the intelligence agencies were “going to get him any way that they could,” claiming that Jan. 6 offered them the opportunity to portray him as “responsible for this insurrection attempt.”
In the months after the insurrection, Epps—a former Trump acolyte who believed the 2020 election was “stolen” from the ex-president—soon found himself the focus of a fictitious narrative relentlessly spun by ex-Fox News star Tucker Carlson night after night.
“Just as Fox had focused on voting machine companies when falsely claiming a rigged election, Fox knew it needed a scapegoat for January 6th,” Epps’ complaint against Fox News says. “It settled on Ray Epps and began promoting the lie that Epps was a federal agent who incited the attack on the Capitol.”
Eventually, Carlson’s repeated and unfounded claims that Epps had incited rioters to storm the Capitol made their way to Congress, prompting Republican lawmakers to link Epps with the planning of the attack. Epps, according to his lawsuit against Fox, began receiving countless death threats and had to move to a remote trailer park for safety.
Ironically, in Epps’ complaint, he says that he had been a devoted Fox News viewer. The network’s amplification of false claims that voting machines rigged the election against Trump helped convince him to go to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021. The network settled a defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million this spring.
Epps also says that since conservatives have accused him of being a federal agent, the Justice Department informed him in May that it will file criminal charges against him for his role in the riots. His lawsuit notes that the notion that he was protected from prosecution because of his supposed role as an inside provocateur was undermined by the pending charges.
A lawyer for Epps and a rep for Spotify did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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