How to escape a PR crisis: how podcaster Andrew Huberman lived a quintuple life and survived to tell the tale

How to escape a PR crisis: how podcaster Andrew Huberman lived a quintuple life and survived to tell the tale

17th April 2024

One of the defining podcast personalities of today saw his reputation and personal brand come under sustained attack, due to online furore surrounding his love life.

On the 25th March 2024, New York Magazine published a long-read article about Stanford university professor and popular podcaster Andrew Huberman. The article starts predictably enough, detailing his successful career as a wellness podcaster, Stanford professor and all-round jacked muscle guru.

His pro-therapy, pro-science and pro-exercise stance makes him very popular among male audiences looking to shake up their entire lives. Huberman’s ‘protocol’ includes ice baths, journaling and seeing sunlight as well as cocktails of supplements, body tests and hypertrophic weight lifting.

However, roughly 1,000 words in, the New York Magazine article shifts tone into an exposé. Huberman had been allegedly juggling over five girlfriends as well as his main girlfriend, who believed he was monogamous. 

Unsurprisingly, this sparked outrage and backlash both in support of Huberman and criticism, from both within his community and beyond. 

This New York Magazine article and its revelations led to a flurry of conversation online of over 100k posts that we dive into in this analysis, exploring how a celebrity with a well-known personal brand can come under fire from even his own supporters - and how he can ride it out. 

Let’s take a look at the top 50 most-engaged posts. 

top 50 posts in the huberman backlash - commentary in blog text

Here we see each most-engaged post coloured by sentiment, with the size indicating the popularity of the post. These are the the loudest and most influential voices in driving a conversation forward, with an outsized role on forming perceptions and behavior.

We can see the conversation evolve over time from initial speculation, support and memes, to sustained criticism and sporadic support. Criticism’s staying power in the discourse shows that audiences are engaging in critical content over time, especially on Reddit where it leads to heated discussions between those for and against.

The top engaged post in the conversation around Huberman’s six-girlfriend scandal is fellow podcaster and pundit Lex Fridman coming to his aide. 

Not every supportive post in the conversation follows such a respectful tone, however. Many in the conversation use misogynistic language to blame the women for their own deception, as well as congratulating Huberman on getting away with the alleged deception for so long. 


When is Huberman going to drop his Harem Protocol? His productivity stack must work if he can juggle cheating on five women at the same time. Totally has that DAWG in him
byu/geo_jam inHubermanLab


It’s worth noting though that support posts continue to be the highest-engaged overall, even when popping up nearly two weeks following the scandal. Many of these supportive posts simply avoid addressing details within the New York Magazine expose and give supportive statements defending Huberman’s character.

As well as providing support, these posts also then gain a lot of further engagement from critics discussing at length under the post why they specifically feel let down, with one user replying to the above post, gaining hundreds of upvotes when saying,  “I think the biggest issue here is the lying part. His entire podcast is predicated on him providing people with information that is as close to the Truth as he can, except that he's apparently a pathological liar.”

A lot of the top-performing critical posts go into the weeds and nuance of the story in the original post itself, picking it apart and explaining why Huberman shouldn’t be escaping criticism. 


Andrew Huberman’s Mechanisms of Control: The private and public seductions of the world’s biggest pop neuroscientist
byu/Global-Letter-4984 inFauxmoi


It's not surprising that the HubermanLab subreddit carries most of the Reddit conversation about Huberman following his six-pronged affair. He we see both Huberman fans in-fighting in discussion around the scandal and new audiences coming into his space to give their two cents.



The other top subreddits are either bro-style self help podcasts and communities or Reddit gossip threads. Bros don’t dominate the entire conversation: we see an anomaly at #10, r/Destiny, who often takes a vocal liberal stance on issues using ‘red-pill’ language, and is frequently described as an ‘edge-lord’. Other subreddits in the conversation that don’t make it into the top ten include r/StopDrinking and r/AskFeminists.

But the majority of conversation takes place in bro podcaster subreddits such as r/JoeRogan, r/DecodingTheGurus and subreddits around Huberman himself. A notable amount of the conversation in the top subreddits use misogynistic language or sentiment to excuse Huberman’s behavior.


Joe reveals the woman who recently exposed Andrew Huberman for having 6 girlfriends is being investigated by the DOJ for fraud, which is why he originally broke up with her, but the hitpiece never mentioned that
byu/_handsomeblackman_ inJoeRogan

The second-most engaged post in the Huberman conversation since the scandal is a Reddit thread in r/JoeRogan containing a clip of the controversial podcaster claiming that one of Huberman’s girlfriends is currently being investigated by the DOJ for fraud. 

This plays into the narrative that is disappointed in Huberman for acting like a conventional celebrity or public figure caught in a compromising position - by hiring a PR firm to handle it for him. 


Huberman’s handling of the accusations diminished my opinion of him
byu/CollectedData inHubermanLab


Inside r/HubermanLab itself, we see this section of the audience that is let down not because of Huberman's actions, but because of how he’s handled it. These posters feel let down by Huberman because of the brand of strong masculinity and problem-solving that he strives so hard to achieve - members of this audience may have gone to great lengths to change things about their life and even personality based on his influence. The ‘guru’ himself failing to live up to those standards of self-ownership rocks this audience’s identity.

But in reality, Huberman’s approach seems to have worked. Huberman has ‘posted through’ the scandal, drawing attention to his planned content schedule and has reaped the benefits of this approach. His owned posts have continued to gain traction whilst gaining around 20,000 new followers in just two days following the scandal.



Here, Andrew Huberman is using his influence and audience to keep a sense of normality. Posting neutral posts about his podcast and projects creates further news-based and neutral posts about him, furthering the idea that it’s simply business as usual.

Many of Huberman’s core audience admire the audacity and strength of this act, even reading into potential coded nods to the scandal in his posts.

This section of the audience finds Huberman’s act of willful ignorance admirable, masculine and even humorous.

Some critics claim that this scandal will force Huberman to pivot towards being a ‘red pill figure’, as his personal reputation is no longer squeaky-clean or entirely liberal-compatible. But his audiences are showing large amounts of support 

But how does Huberman whether this storm through sheer brute force avoidance, while brands that fail to address scandals come out with their reputation harmed? This is where Huberman’s personal brand comes in - he’s built a parasocial relationship with a loyal audience that see his steadiness in the face of this scandal as a strength, not a weakness. 

Through curating a bullet-proof public identity that claims to care about his audience on a personal and wellness level, by pushing an ideology of strength and mastery of the body and mind, he’s positioned himself as an unwavering guru and unassailable icon. From his current position, it’ll take a lot more to topple Andrew Huberman.

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