Joe Rogan Experience Comes Under Fire for Misinformation & Use of the N-Word
Picture this; You are the most popular music streaming platform on the planet, and you sign a popular podcaster to a $100 million deal to have his podcast exclusive to your platform. In a little over a year since inking the deal, the star has been caught up in controversy for having guests who spew anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, including alleged doctors. As a result, leading artists begin taking their content off the platform en masse.
That is the predicament Spotify is in with Joe Rogan and his podcast The Joe Rogan Experience. On an episode that took place in December 2021, Rogan’s guest was Dr. Robert Malone, a physician who used his appearance on the show to promote misinformation and anti-COVID-19 vaccine conspiracy theories. Though it was hardly the first time that Rogan’s podcast featured such content, the result of this episode, along with another interview featuring cardiologist Peter McCullough received so much backlash that artists such as Joni Mitchell and Neil Young requested their music be pulled off Spotify unless the platform stopped hosting Rogan.
Who is Joe Rogan?
Prior to starting The Joe Rogan Experience in 2009, Rogan was best known for his role as Joe the electrician on NBC’s NewsRadio, hosting the TV stunt show Fear Factor from 2001 to 2006, and being a colorful commentator for UFC. Since the launch of the podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience has become one of the most listened-to podcasts in the world, regularly receiving millions of views per episode. Spotify obtained exclusive rights to The Joe Rogan Experience in 2020 for $100 million.
Rogan’s podcast has frequently been criticized for controversial stances on various topics, including climate change denial and glorification of violence, as well as featuring incendiary guests such as far-right commentators Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopolous.
Joe Rogan Issues Apology for Using Racial Slur
The Importance of India Arie
Recently, there have been further calls for Spotify to pull Rogan off their platform after artist India Arie shared a video compilation of Rogan using the n-word multiple times over many years and episodes of his show, as well as comparing African-Americans to the movie Planet of the Apes. Rogan has since apologized for using the n-word, although he does not call himself a racist.
“I don’t think Joe Rogan is racist for using [the N-word], I think he’s insensitive for using it,” Arie said to CNN reporter Don Lemon regarding Rogan’s apology. Prior to appearing on CNN, Arie requested Spotify to remove her music from the platform. She claims that she has had issues with Spotify streaming her music and that the recent Rogan controversy was “the last straw.”
Is Spotify dropping Joe Rogan?
According to most recent updates, 71 episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcast have been removed from Spotify over the use of the n-word and the vaccine controversy, but Spotify plans to keep The Joe Rogan Experience on their platform.
Spotify’s CEO Says Silencing is Not The Answer
“There are no words I can say to adequately convey how deeply sorry I am for the way The Joe Rogan Experience controversy continues to impact each of you,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek wrote in a memo to his employees regarding the recent controversy. In the same memo, Ek stated he believes that “silencing Rogan” is not the answer although Spotify recently put content advisory labels on Rogan episodes relating to COVID-19.
Previous Spotify Controversies Over Racism
This is not the first time Spotify has been caught harboring racist content on its platform. In 2021, Sky News reported that Spotify had been hosting white supremacy content on their platform. As a result of the report, nearly 150 hours of racist and white supremacist content was removed from Spotify.
Supporters Backtrack Support for Joe Rogan
The defense for Rogan has been dwindling ever since the video was posted, with former New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang deleting a tweet that said “I don’t think Joe Rogan is a racist — the man interacts with and works with Black people literally all of the time.” Dwayne Johnson has also retracted his support for Rogan after he’d previously supported him in the wake of the video’s release.
In Defense of Joe Rogan
Despite the controversy and backtracking among many allies. More continue to weigh in and defend Joe including MMA star Israel Adesanya. “First off, let me take this one, hold up I’m Black, I can take this one,” Adesanya grabs the mic during a press conference. “There’s a lot of cunts in this game, there’s a lot of snakes in this game.I’ve been in this fight game since 2008 and Joe Rogan is one of the nicest, coolest, humble motherfuckers I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Understand that. Fuck the noise, man, you know what they’re trying to do. You can’t control the man, and he’s got the biggest platform in the world right now. So that’s my n*gger Joe Rogan, fuck the noise.”
Rogan’s Past and Future: Podcaster is No Stranger to Controversy
Rogan also faced controversy prior to 2022 when he called Fallon Fox, a trans woman mixed martial artist “a fucking man.” There’s also the video of Rogan comparing a predominantly Black neighborhood to Planet of the Apes that was partially featured in the compilation posted by Arie.
Despite all of the controversy Rogan has faced, video platform Rumble has reportedly offered Rogan $100 million for a 4-year exclusivity deal. The platform prides itself on being “immune to cancel culture” and has been popular with people in right-wing communities.
If you are interested in listening to podcasts that tackle anti-racism, check out podcasts such as Pod Save the People and While Black. Interested in podcasts that tackle social justice with a blend of humor, check out podcasts such as Yo, Is This Racist? and The Ted Alexandro Show with Ted Alexandro.