On the October 11 edition of his Spotify podcast, host Joe Rogan and former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) promoted the online hoax that students are using litter boxes in school restrooms, with Rogan claiming that one school “had to install a litter box in the girls' room because there is a girl who's a furry, who identifies as an animal.” Rogan and Gabbard framed the fabricated story as “bananas” and “absolutely insane,” respectively, and used the hoax to attack President Joe Biden’s administration.
Rogan was seemingly referencing the persistent but baseless hoax that schools are placing litter boxes in bathrooms to accommodate students who self-identify as cats. The litter box hoax has been wielded as an anti-trans cudgel by prominent right-wing figures including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Chaya Raichik , who runs the viral anti-LGBTQ hate account Libs of TikTok. According to PolitiFact, “School districts in Iowa, Michigan and Nebraska have debunked claims that they are providing litter boxes in bathrooms.”
During the episode, Rogan introduced the hoax as an anecdote from his “friend” whose wife “works at a school that had to install a litter box in the girls room because there is a girl who's a furry.” Rogan claimed that the child’s mother “badgered” the school into putting a litter box in the public bathroom.
Gabbard did not question the bogus anecdote, saying that Rogan's fabricated story was “absolutely insane."
Later in the episode, Rogan and Gabbard again pushed the litter box hoax to fearmonger that the growing acceptance of trans rights will cause society to normalize pedophilia. (For years, right-wing groups have tried to smear LGBTQ people by falsely associating them with pedophiles.)
The two pushed the hoax again while reading from a Guardian report about a university in the United Kingdom investigating a Ph.D. student who had “written a research paper about sexual attraction to young boys.” Gabbard connected the paper to the litter box hoax, claiming that both can happen since “there are no boundaries anymore.” Rogan agreed, adding that the fictitious child who uses a litter box in school bathrooms “is fucking crazy, and you're encouraging that."
Rogan has repeatedly used his podcast to spread right-wing misinformation to his millions of listeners
Rogan has faced widespread backlash for spreading bigotry, medical misinformation, and right-wing falsehoods on his Spotify podcast. But Spotify has determined that its platform rules do not prohibit the numerous dangerous and unfounded claims spread on The Joe Rogan Experience.
For example, Rogan has repeatedly suggested that social acceptance of trans people is a sign of “civilizations collapsing,” falsely asserted that mRNA coronavirus vaccines are “really gene therapy,” and baselessly suggested that a rally by the white nationalist group Patriot Front was “fake” and put on by “the feds.”
As The Washington Post noted in a May 2021 report, Rogan has “an estimated 11 million listeners per episode" and "reaches nearly four times as many people as prime-time cable hosts such as Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.”