Following the issue around COVID-19 disinformation, Spotify has pulled 113 episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast and revived clips of the podcaster using the N-word many times on his show. Due to COVID-19 misinformation presented by Rogan and guests during episodes, which receive around 11 million listeners each, the podcast, which Spotify hosts exclusively following a $100 million deal with Rogan, has recently come under fire from artists such as Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, as well as doctors, scientists, and healthcare professionals.
As a result, the music-streaming service declared that it would disclose its platform guidelines as well as create COVID-19 content advisory warnings for podcasts that discuss the epidemic, which will drive consumers to a dedicated COVID-19 center. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek stated in a statement, “It’s crucial to me that we don’t take on the role of content censor while simultaneously ensuring that there are rules in place and repercussions for those who break them.”
“Based on the input we’ve received over the last few weeks, it’s clear to me that we need to do more to provide balance and access to widely accepted information from the medical and scientific communities to help us navigate this unusual period.” These are really complicated topics. We’ve listened to you, particularly those in the medical and scientific fields.”
Ek went on to suggest that the streaming giant would test new ways to emphasize platform guidelines to creators, “to increase awareness around what’s acceptable and assist creators understand their accountability for the content they share on our platform,” but he did not mention Rogan in the statement. It’s unclear how this would apply to Rogan, who is paid to create material for the platform. Prior to the news, JRE Missing — a website that tracks Joe Rogan Experience episodes that have been pulled off Spotify without warning – discovered that 113 episodes had been removed without warning.
According to an internal Spotify memo seen by Reuters, the episodes were removed at Rogan’s request. After Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter India Arie tweeted a compilation of Rogan using the slur before requesting that her songs be removed off Spotify, the removals are most likely related to COVID-19 disinformation or the host and guests’ repeated usage of the N-word. Rogan also compares an area with a large Black population to Planet of the Apes in the footage. In an Instagram video, Rogan apologized, saying, “I was attempting to make the narrative amusing.” “I didn’t say Black people are monkeys, and I never said it, but it sure sounded like it. Although the narrative wasn’t racist, it sounded awful.”
Rogan went on to declare that he hadn’t uttered the N-word in years and that the tapes were taken out of context, but that the term is disgusting in any context. “I understand that in most people’s minds, there is no scenario in which a white person is ever allowed to speak that word, never alone openly on a podcast,” Rogan remarked. “I would just say the word instead of the N-word.” People would understand what I was doing as long as it was in context,” I reasoned. ‘I’ve spoken a lot of f***ing foolish s**t in my life, which is fine, but not when it comes to race.”
Despite the widespread criticism, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek defended his choice to continue presenting the Joe Rogan Experience. “While I strongly detest what Joe has said,” Ek said to his employees in a letter, “I want to make one point very plain — I do not believe that silencing Joe is the solution.”