Donald Trump has made his career—both in business and politics—by drawing attention to himself. And Trump and his advisers are stuck on one particular idea to get that attention: an appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast.
Except there’s one problem: Trump keeps striking out.
After shaking hands with Rogan at a recent UFC fight in Las Vegas, the aspiration returned to the front of Trump’s mind. In conversations with advisers and allies, Trump has encouraged those close to him to hype up a potential podcast invite, according to a source familiar.
“The mere discussion of Donald Trump on a blockbuster podcast like Joe Rogan builds a remarkable audience,” a Trump adviser told The Daily Beast. “Perhaps the only person bigger in the new media world than Joe Rogan is Donald Trump and the whole idea that the two of them would be together at long last—it would be an incredible audience.”
Trump’s re-ignited desire to appear on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast follows the ex-president appearing with the Nelk Boys on their podcast Full Send, a frat-like interview show with young men wearing backwards hats. That podcast did millions of views and listens across a number of platforms.
After the Nelk Boys hosted Trump, the episode was removed from YouTube over the former president spouting bogus election claims.
“When the episode got canceled, they didn’t turn on Trump,” a Republican operative close to the campaign said. “Trump appreciated that, even in the face of pressure, they didn’t turn on him.”
As Fox News increasingly turns on Trump and the campaign eyes alternative media opportunities, one thing is clear: Trump is seeking out attention in new places. One arena where he has never triumphed is Rogan’s podcast, despite Rogan’s audience and Trump’s supporters sharing significant overlap.
Rogan averages 11 million listens for each of his episodes, and a Trump episode would almost certainly draw a much larger audience. Both men could benefit from the appearance.
But Rogan has been clear that he has no interest in hosting the former president.
“I’m not a Trump supporter in any way, shape or form,” Rogan said earlier this month on the Lex Fridman podcast. “I’ve had the opportunity to have him on my show more than once. I’ve said no every time. I don’t want to help him. I’m not interested in helping him.”
But Trump and his advisers aren’t giving up.
One of Trump’s longest-serving informal advisers, Roger Stone, has even devised a strange plan to pressure Rogan.
One source close to Stone said they “already know all about” the self-described dirty trickster’s plan to sling dirt at Rogan, hoping Rogan might take the bait.
Part of Stone’s pressure campaign is to refer to Rogan’s “handlers” as one of the reasons Trump can’t get an invite. Another part of his strategy is far more bizarre.
Stone has begun discussing a UFC-styled cage match between himself and Rogan to settle the matter, according to one adviser. And on a recent appearance on the far-right InfoWars show, Stone confirmed he wants to battle Rogan in the octagon.
“I know I can definitely take him,” Stone told the conspiracy theory-loving host, Alex Jones.
“I hit the heavy bag for an hour every Saturday,” Stone added, making a punching motion with his hand.
Despite Jones’ warning against the idea, Stone, who is 70 years old, doubled down. “Well, let me put it this way, Alex. He was wearing a really nice suit,” Stone said, referring to Rogan at the Las Vegas event. “I wonder what it would cost in a man’s size.”
Two informal advisers who regularly speak to the former president detailed how Trump has long attempted to secure an invite on Rogan’s podcast.
“The president listens to Rogan,” one adviser said, noting they had been with Trump while he watched a clip from the podcast. “I don’t think the president takes Rogan’s criticism personally, and really, in the end, Donald Trump would listen to a non-politician with some mild criticism more than a politician that kisses his ass.”
Another adviser claimed Trump was “much more patient” about an invite than it seems. “He plays the long game, and very well,” this person said.
Trump himself doesn’t seem to care exactly how he gets an invite—he just wants an invite.
“The drama builds an audience, not just for the show when it eventually happens,” one of the previously mentioned advisers said.
Another adviser who has spoken to Trump about Rogan, pointed to the podcast host welcoming Democratic presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on his show, arguing that it’d only be fair to have Trump.
That’s a point that Rogan clearly doesn’t agree on, though Rogan didn’t return a request for comment on this story, just as a spokesperson for Trump also didn’t return multiple requests for comment.
But one thing almost everyone in Trump’s orbit agrees on is that Stone would get his ass handed to him in a fight with Rogan.
“Roger’s pretty old, isn’t he?” one person close to Trump said. “Have to think Rogan would pummel him.”