Billionaire Mark Cuban has come to the defense of a vaccine scientist at the center of a heated social media debate over vaccine misinformation involving comedian Joe Rogan and Twitter CEO Elon Musk.

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, trended on Twitter Saturday and Sunday after he got into an online fight with Rogan. The social media spat went viral after Rogan offered the vaccine expert $100,000 to debate the Democratic presidential nominee and singled out anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on his podcast.

Rogan challenged Hotez after the doctor criticized his recent interview with Kennedy Jr. During an episode of youThe Joe Rogan Experiencenephew of former President John F. Kennedy and son of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy Sr. reiterated unsubstantiated claims that vaccines cause autism, a notion that has been repeatedly refuted.

Cuban attacks Rogan
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban reacts during a timeout in the game against the Golden State Warriors at the American Airlines Center on March 22, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. Joe Rogan looks on during the UFC 273 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 9, 2022 in Jacksonville, Florida. On Sunday, Cuban attacked Rogan over the comedian’s recent “bullying” of a vaccine scientist.
Tim Heitman, James Gilbert/Getty

Hotez criticized Rogan and Spotify for the interview, saying the podcaster was promoting “vaccine misinformation.”

In response to the doctor’s criticism, Rogan called Hotez to debate Kennedy Jr., who seconded the idea On twitter.

“Peter, if you claim that what RFKjr is saying is ‘misinformation’, I’m offering you $100,000.00 to the charity of your choice if you’re willing to discuss it on my show with no time limit.” Rogan tweeted.

news week He reached out to Hotez by email for comment.

The dispute, instantly heated by the polarizing issue of vaccine misinformation, quickly went viral. Hotez’s supporters urged him to avoid debating Kennedy Jr., saying he will “elevate” conspiracy theories. Rogan’s fans praise the podcaster for “exposing the truth” and encouraging public discussion.

Twitter CEO Elon Musk weighed in with a response to one of Rogan’s tweets criticizing Hotez, saying: “He’s afraid of a public debate because he knows he’s wrong.”

Hotez said on Twitter that all the attention from high-profile figures has led to him being “stalked” in front of his house by a “couple of anti-vaxxers who mock me for debating RFKJr.”

Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and investor in the television show shark tankgot into the discussion Sunday while responding to one of Rogan’s tweets about Hotez.

In the tweet, Rogan defended the need for a debate and referred to people in the medical industry as “heartless monsters.” She said those in the medical field “see human beings as an opportunity to generate insane wealth regardless of the tragic consequences.”

Cuban, who in 2022 founded the online generic drug company Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company (MCCPDC), attacked Rogan’s criticism of the healthcare industry. The investor said the podcaster’s comments were “disrespectful” to the nation’s medical professionals. Cuban also criticized Rogan and Kennedy Jr. for trying to force Hotez into a debate with Kennedy Jr.

“Trying to intimidate Dr. Hotez is ridiculous. You have producers that will prepare you and you can control the conversation,” Cuban said in the tweet. “@RobertKennedyJr He also has a staff ready to prepare him, and these topics are the ones he talks about in every speech. They both do this daily. Dr. Hotez works every day to try to find ways to help people.”

Cuban said news week that Rogan, Kennedy Jr. and Musk were “harassing” Hotez, so he felt the need to step in and say something on his Twitter account, which has nearly 9 million followers.

“I thought it was unfair that Joe, Kennedy and Elon were effectively intimidating Dr. Hotez, so I decided to say so,” Cuban said in an email to news week. “Elon and Joe have worked hard to create their respective platforms and they have the right to use them however they want. But I felt like I could also use my platform to say how I felt.”

Hotez said during a Sunday night appearance on MSNBC that anti-vaccine misinformation is a “deadly force” in the US. He said during the interview with Mehdi Hasan that he is happy to be on Rogan’s podcast and talk about vaccines and share information. However, he did not say if he would debate Kennedy Jr.

“I offered to follow Joe Rogan, but not make it into the Jerry Springer show with RFK Jr.”, he said.

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