Joe “Controversy” Rogan

Emma Kostyun

In a morning update podcast by NPR on Jan. 21, 2022, it was stated that, “more than a thousand scientists and health care experts were calling out Spotify over false COVID claims made by the most popular podcaster on the streaming service, Joe Rogan.”

Joe Rogan; actor, comedian, UFC commentator, former tv presenter and now a famous podcaster, whose podcast averages 11 million listeners per episode, interviews people like Carrot Top, Beeple, Snoop Dogg, Ben Shapiro, Chuck Palahniuk, and Dr. Robert Malone.

In a report from the Washington Post on Feb. 8 Spotify’s Chief Executive Daniel Ek wrote an internal memo that stated, “I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer, we should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but canceling voices is a slippery slope.” This is in response to not only the misinformation accusations but also to the backlash Rogan received after saying the n-word on one of his first podcasts.

In an op-ed NPR made Feb. 9, Eric Deggans wrote, “Rogan himself claims he isn’t racist.” Indeed, Rogan asserts that the clips of him using the n-word in his podcast “were examples of him invoking the word in conversations where it wasn’t used as a slur about specific people or Black people in general.” However, in a tweet made by Rogan he stated that he felt that walking in a Black neighborhood was like the movie “Planet of the Apes.”

The other side of the controversy took place in December 2021, when Dr. Robert Malone made his guest appearance in episode 1757 of The Joe Rogan Experience. Malone is an American physician and biochemist focusing on mRNA technology, and drug repurposing research.

During the interveiw, Rogan broached the subject of Malone being kicked off twitter. Malone commented that he was not sure why he was kicked off but had suspicions it had to do with his tweets concerning the Pfizer vaccines. “That’s the sin; in general saying things that cause people to become vaccine hesitant,” Malone said.

The remaining three hours of the podcast contained Malone and Rogan discussing the pandemic and vaccines. They compared the vaccine to Nazi medical experiments, made conjectures that President Biden isn’t actually vaccinated and more inaccurate statements concerning the data and guidelines put forth by the government.

In a news release from his Save America PAC, Donald Trump made a statement about his stance on the matter. “Joe Rogan is an interesting and popular guy, but he’s got to stop apologizing. How many ways can you say you’re sorry? Joe, just go about what you do so well and don’t let them [Fake News and Radical Left maniacs and lunatics] make you look weak and frightened.”

There are two clear sides to this debate, which have been plastered everywhere online. One says that Rogan should be removed from Spotify or that there should be a bigger investigation into Spotify itself. The other side challenges our known beliefs about free speech, that we have the freedom to say what our beliefs are especially in the safety of the online realm.

Kevin Healey, professor of communication states that, “if I were Spotify, I’d be seriously concerned about branding right now, even if Joe Rogan’s program is worth keeping in a strict financial sense.”

“I’d caution folks against tossing around the word ‘censorship.’ Spotify is not the U.S. government. People are free to say what they want, but businesses like Spotify are also free to enact strict policies against content that amplifies disinformation, hate speech, etc. I hope they respond to critics who are rightfully asking them to do so,” said Healey.

Spotify users are urged to be concerned about how much longer they will be with that music platform. Spotify is under attack from critics who urge Spotify to act. “Misinformation (something that’s perhaps unwittingly inaccurate) and disinformation (something that’s deliberately misleading) pose serious risks to legitimate political and civic discourse in the U.S. and abroad.” Healey discussed how we as a people can act ourselves towards a better shift in the social media platforms, which includes Spotify.

Healey commented that, “We need a shift in the business models of social media platforms, and a shift more broadly in how the digital economy operates.”