Mark Cuban—Shark Tank star, billionaire entrepreneur, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Cost Plus Drugs—waded into a chaotic Twitter brawl about vaccines on Sunday involving some big names—including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the world’s richest man.
It centered around Spotify podcaster Joe Rogan challenging a medical expert—Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine—to enter a debate about vaccines on his show. That came in response to Hotez sharing a Vice article from Friday entitled “Spotify Has Stopped Even Sort of Trying to Stem Joe Rogan’s Vaccine Misinformation.”
The Vice article came after a Rogan episode the day prior featuring Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a long-shot Democratic presidential candidate, political scion, and—like Rogan—high-profile vaccine skeptic. Despite his political party, U.S. conservatives have taken a shine to Kennedy, who wrote a 2021 book entitled The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health. He’s also frequently deplored the war in Ukraine, calling it a ”money laundering racket for military contractors” on the podcast.
Rogan tweeted on Saturday evening, “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.”
“Joe, you have my cell, my email, I’m always willing to speak with you,” replied Hotez, who wrote the 2018 book Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism: My Journey as a Vaccine Scientist, Pediatrician, and Autism Dad.
Twitter owner Musk then tweeted, “He’s afraid of a public debate, because he knows he’s wrong.”
Hotez replied, “Seriously Elon? This is monstrous. 200,000 Americans needlessly perished (including 40,000 Texans, our neighbors) because they were victims of antivaccine disinformation during our awful Covid delta/BA.1 waves in 2021-22. Please don’t do this…”
Hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman unexpectedly joined in, tweeting, “I will add $150,000 to @joerogan’s wager so now $250,000 can go to charity and the public can hear an open debate on an important topic.”
Tom Nichols, a staff writer at The Atlantic, tweeted about the invitation: “No medical professional should ever agree to do this. Never. It elevates the conspiracy guy, demeans the medical professional, and will only convince the kooks out there that RFK is right because a real doctor took the time to debate him.”
Rogan replied, “That would be a great suggestion if you could assure that the industry you were representing wasn’t completely captured by heartless monsters who have a history of some of the biggest criminal fines in human history because their deception has cost hundreds of thousands of people their lives. It would be a great suggestion if the industry you were defending didn’t occasionally look at human beings as an opportunity to generate insane wealth regardless of the tragic consequences.”
At this point, Cuban weighed in:
“Way to talk in generalities Joe. Not saying there aren’t a lot of f***ed up things about pharma. That’s why we created Cost Plus Drugs. But to ignore that the same industry has saved who knows how many lives is bullshit and you know it. It’s also disrespectful to all the doctors, researchers and medical professionals that dedicate their lives to saving lives, like Dr Hotez and the 800k plus doctors in the country that believe vaccines save lives.”
He then laid into Musk as well, contending that Rogan and Twitter under Musk “are the mainstream online media and your platforms have become everything supposedly wrong with MSM [mainstream media].”
He added, “You are driven by self interest. Just like the MSM always has been accused of. And you both have earned that right. You busted your asses to be great at what you do and earned all you have accomplished. But don’t lie to yourselves and all of us and tell us you are different. You aren’t.”
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