Rogan has had an extensive career in other media before his controversial podcast, including as a UFC commentator, game show host and a star on a popular sitcom. courtesy the Joe Rogan Experience

Nobody needs the Joe Rogan experience

Rogan’s guests frequently spread dangerous misinformation and the host regularly fails to temper pseudoscience with facts.

Various artists have pulled their music from Spotify in retaliation to COVID-19 misinformation and racist remarks made by the famous podcaster Joe Rogan. The Ultimate Fighting Championship commentator has issued apologies and removed many controversial episodes of his podcast from Spotify, but he has received no warnings or punishment from the platform.

Rogan has featured many guests on his podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” where they discuss COVID-19 conspiracy theories and general falsehoods about the virus. One episode featured virologist Dr. Robert Malone, who had already been banned from Twitter due to spreading COVID-19 misinformation. Malone claimed that vaccines are efficient because of “mass formation psychosis” and discussed other factually incorrect claims with Rogan, who did not attempt to correct or dismantle these theories but fueled them. As a result, over 270 doctors signed an open letter to Spotify criticizing both the episode and the platform for creating doubt in scientifically proven research.

Rogan addressed the criticisms in a 10-minute video and said he would do his best to “balance things out” in the future, but did not agree to stop hosting controversial discussions about the virus. He said, “My point of doing this is always just to create interesting conversations and ones that I hope people enjoy.” Spotify also responded by releasing a COVID-19 policy that includes issuing disclaimers on content that may be deemed misinformation. The platform did not take action against Rogan.

By spreading misinformation on Spotify’s most popular show, Rogan is harming the credibility of scientific research and the proven facts about COVID-19, and Spotify is enabling him through continued use of their platform. The podcaster is fueling the mistrust people have in the government and health professionals by giving merit to conspiracies and giving a platform to those who believe in falsehoods about the virus. Although conspiracy theories are commonly discussed on media outlets such as podcasts, the serious and polarizing nature of COVID-19 makes these discussions dangerous as millions have died from the virus and the pandemic is still ongoing. Fueling false beliefs about the virus in his hundreds of millions of viewers could have dangerous — even fatal — consequences if they do not follow the trusted and credible guidelines set out by the CDC.

Artists such as Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Nils Lofgren and India Arie were among the first to remove their music from Spotify because of the misinformed content on Rogan’s podcast. However, Arie claimed that her decision to pull her music from the platform was also fueled by Rogan’s blatant racism on many episodes of his podcast.

The podcaster came under fire this year for a compilation video showcasing Rogan saying a racial slur over 20 times. Clips of Rogan saying racist and outlandish remarks on the podcast also surfaced, to which Rogan responded with a five minute apology video which downplayed the severity of his insolent behavior.

Spotify’s CEO, Daniel Ek, addressed the situation by giving Rogan a slap on the wrist. Rogan deleted episodes of the podcast featuring offensive material and Spotify decided not to remove Rogan from their platform, despite the multiple counts of hate speech he has acquired since beginning the podcast in 2009. Apparently deleting the evidence was good enough for Ek, who said, “I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer,” in a memo addressing the issue.

Spotify is partially responsible for the damage Rogan has caused with his senseless actions on his podcast. Rogan signed to have “The Joe Rogan Experience” streamed exclusively on Spotify in 2020, giving Spotify the control to sanction Rogan for inappropriate content if they so choose. However, Spotify did not choose to penalize Rogan. In fact, Spotify reportedly pays Rogan close to $200 million to stay on the platform and do… whatever he wants really.

Yes, everyone has the right to free speech; however, there is a line between language that is appropriate, civil and decent and what is blatantly hateful and racist. The fact of the matter is Rogan should be penalized for his racist remarks by suspending his platform or outright terminating it. Other platforms sanction creators to keep their content decent and free of hate speech or cruelty. Spotify has done nothing to punish Rogan for his disrespectful behavior or prevent him from repeating it.

Post Author: Shelby Hiens