CNN highlights Joe Rogan's peddling of debunked conspiracy theories about wildfires

Miguel Marquez: The authorities “are begging people [to] stop posting and spreading false information.”

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Citation From the September 18, 2020, edition of CNN Newsroom

BRIANNA KEILAR (ANCHOR): The tragic development in these California wildfires. A firefighter who went missing while battling the El Dorado fire east of Los Angeles has been found dead. That fire in the San Bernardino National Forest was sparked by a smoke device that was used at a gender reveal party on Labor Day weekend. The firefighter at this point has not yet been identified. Law enforcement and fire crews had been searching for a missing person who was part of one of the hot shot crews, we know that. The cause of death is under investigation. This El Dorado fire has burned more than 19,000 acres. It's one of about 59 large uncontained fires that is burning on the West Coast right now. In Oregon, nearly a million acres have burned and there are 27 active fires. Yet some are making it a political issue. Joe Rogan taking aim at what he called the madness of protesters in Portland, even claiming that left wing activists have been arrested for starting the fires. Let's listen. 


JOE ROGAN (HOST, THE JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE):  There's a madness going on there. You want to talk about madness of crowds. That is -- that exemplifies that right now and it's to me -- they have arrested people for lighting forest fires up there. They've arrested left-wing people for lighting these forest fires. You know, air quote “activists" and this is something that's also not widely being reported.


KEILAR: It's not being widely reported because it's not true. What has been reported is that there are local and state officials all through that region who have been coming out and refuting these conspiracy theories. I'm joined now by Miguel Marquez to break this down. These are claims that have been circling, Miguel, that antifa members are responsible for the fires. But like I said, you have law enforcement officials who have been coming out publicly and saying that's not -- that is not what's happening. They have been trying to dismiss these allegations. What more are you learning?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ (CNN CORRESPONDENT): Well look, and this is happening at every level, it's just not true. And whether it's Douglas County or Jackson County or Clackamas County, the sheriffs there -- the FBI has investigated some of these things. They are begging people, stop posting and spreading false information. If you hear it from a friend who heard it from a friend, and then you stick it on Facebook, that's not good information, that's not helpful. A lot of these agencies, not only are they fighting fires, the sort of destruction that you see come through here, but they're also protecting large swaths of the area throughout the fire-burned areas in Oregon. That's National Guard down there. They have police and sheriff's offices in other areas. But they are begging people to stop spreading this stuff because it's just not true. There was one report of six people being taken into custody in one county. It never happened. They said they were antifa individuals. Never happened.

They've had about 30 major fires burning in Oregon right now. Most of them are lightning caused that they have determined what caused them. Two are under investigation for human cause, but it's not clear whether those are even arson at this point. There was even a rumor at one point that there were people stashing gas in, and this was in Clackamas County, stashing gas in the forest and they were afraid they were going to start fires with it. It turned out it was good samaritans who were helping others keep their generators running.

So, sheriffs across Oregon and certainly in the counties that are affected are just begging people to stop sharing bad information, stop calling in with bad information, and just know what you're talking about if you are going to report something. They want to hear it, but you have to have seen something and you have to actually know what it is you're talking about because it's a sign of the times. There are just -- you know, people are angry, people are upset. Emotions are running high. A lot of people have lost their homes so you can understand the anger to some degree. They want somebody to blame. But they're asking people to stop with the rumors, stop repeating them, stop posting them to social media, and let officials investigate these fires. Every single one of them is under investigation.