Inside The Joe Rogan And Spotify Controversy

Swarajya Staff

Feb 08, 2022, 01:30 PM | Updated 01:26 PM IST

Representative image
Representative image

Podcaster Joe Rogan is under fire as pressure has been building on Spotify to drop him. Joe Rogan hosts the biggest podcast in the world named the Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan's podcast is widely considered an important factor in popularising long form conversations/interviews.

Many of his podcasts stretch up to 4 hours. Guests on his podcast range from bear hunters, mountaineers and comedians to US Congressman/ Congresswoman, Nobel laureate Roger Penrose and Elon Musk.

He recently had former NSA H. R. McMaster as his guest. Joe has been hosting his podcast for more than a decade. With the passage of time he has become somewhat of a cultural figure in America.

Rogan's audience outstrips the cable news networks by a huge margin. Each of his podcast gets millions of views. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Spotify has been "pushing aggressively into podcasting in the past few years in a bid to differentiate itself from other services and become more profitable. It spent $100 million in 2020 to exclusively host Mr. Rogan’s podcast. This week, Spotify reported it had 406 million monthly active users, up 18% from the year before. Its advertising revenue, largely tied to podcasting, was up 40%."

However ire has been mounting against Rogan since the time he alluded that US President Joe Biden's cognitive faculties are in decline. Rogan didn't help himself when he started questioning the CDC's policies to combat the pandemic.

Recently singer Neil Young, who back in 2006 was advocating free speech, gave an ultimatum to Spotify stating that the company should either drop Rogan or he'll pull his songs from the platform. Spotify chose Rogan. However now more pressure is building on Spotify. Even the White House has decided to weigh in.

After Spotify announced that they'll add a Covid-19 disclaimer to Rogan's podcasts, White House Press Secretary said that the company should 'do more'. Rogan released a video on Instagram explaining how he's had people with differing views on government's Covid-19 policy as guests on his show.

He flagged that he has hosted guests who support the government's Covid policy such as Dr. Sanjay Gupta and guests who don't such as Bret Weinstein. He also issued an apology and said that he'll be better prepared the next time he talks to a guest about Covid.

Now an edited video has surfaced compiling all the times Rogan has used the N-word over a period of more than a decade. The video doesn't provide the context in which he used the word. Rogan on his part has issued a second apology and laid out the context in which he was using that word. It was mostly when he was quoting some other comedian and never as a racial slur. He went on to add that however he now realises that as a white guy he should never use the N-word, no matter what the context.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has informed his employees that “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,”
He however added that he won't drop Rogan.

Interestingly, many people on the internet have pointed out that nearly a 110 podcasts of Rogan are now missing from Spotify. One would expect that these will be the podcasts where he used the N-word although that's not the case. One of the guest whose conversation with Rogan has been pulled is Kyle Kulinski. Kulinski is a leftist political commentator.

After finding out his podcast with Rogan has been pulled, he said in a tweet that,"My 2018 Joe Rogan Experience appearance was CENSORED by Spotify. He didn't use any racial slurs in the episode. I RAILED against Saudi Arabia in it and Spotify just happened to expand into the Saudi market at the exact time that coincides with the banning."

Rumble, which is a video streaming platform, has offered Rogan $100 million to bring his old and new content to the platform, assuring him of no censorship.

Many prominent people have apart from Rogan's audience are defending him. The whistleblower Edward Snowden said in a tweet that, "Nobody has stronger opinions about Joe Rogan than people who have never listened to Joe Rogan."

Few hours ago, the Moral Philosopher and Neuroscientist Sam Harris released a 20 minute video expressing his views on the controversy. Harris who has been previously critical of Rogan's views on vaccines and the guests he has platformed, praised Rogan for apologising.

Harris however took issue with Rogan's second apology, stating that Rogan went too far with the apology. Harris elaborated that "the idea that a white person cannot use the N-word for any purpose such as when reading Huckleberry Finn or discussing the word's use is completely insane. To hold this view is to attribute magical properties to words, its the very essence of childish relationship to language. It makes a mockery of the real social problem of racism."

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