Critics want the world's most highly paid and watched podcaster off the air. But not everyone agrees.
Not long after Spotify announced that it would add a 'content advisory' to Covid-19 podcast episodes, the man at the eye of the storm, Joe Rogan, responded to the ongoing controversy that has seen legendary artists including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell removing their music from the app.
In a nine-minute video uploaded to Instagram, he apologised to Spotify for the backlash against some of his podcasts where Rogan had booked guests, which critics accused of being controversial.
The host of The Joe Rogan Experience has been criticised in particular for two podcast guests, Dr Peter McCullough and Dr Robert Malone. Both of these guests made multiple claims related to the Covid-19 pandemic on Rogan's show which critics took aim at.
During the show, McCullough said that the pandemic was planned, that the Covid-19 vaccines were experimental and that people that were infected from the virus had gained permanent immunity.
Whereas Malone suggested that the Covid-19 vaccine could be dangerous and was at best experimental adding that “natural immunity is superior to the vaccine-induced immunity.”
This is not the first time that Rogan has had a controversial speaker on his show spreading misinformation. A regular feature on The Joe Rogan Experience has been the Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, whose latest appearance on the show lit the torch on the whole controversy when he claimed that there is no such thing as ‘climate’.
In response, Rogan says of the guests that they had on the show are "highly credentialed, very intelligent, very accomplished people, and they have an opinion that is different from the mainstream narrative. I wanted to hear what their opinion is." The furore over Rogan has been mainly animated on Twitter and in the US.
On the, defender of Rogan on social media, said, "Just randomly turned on CNN, and a lady was arguing for banning Joe Rogan from Spotify. Is cable news basically Twitter with a time delay now?"
Rogan's podcast is one the most listened to in the world, with more than 11 million listeners per episode. Spotify bought it in 2020 for $100 million, cementing its reputation as the world's most lucrative podcast.
One of Rogan's defenders, the famous journalist Glenn Greenwald, accused US media outlets of seeking to censor Rogan by pressuring Spotify to take down his shows.
"There are 3 major media units - NBC's "disinformation" team; NYT's tech reporters; and CNN's media reporters - whose primary goal in life is to pressure Big Tech and other platforms to silence and censor voices that deviate from liberal orthodoxy," said Greenwald.
"I don't think it's sufficiently appreciated how twisted and surreal it is that the leading activists for censorship in the US are journalists," he added on his social media account.
I don't think it's sufficiently appreciated how twisted and surreal it is that the leading activists for censorship in the U.S. are journalists. Yes, they're more accurately described as "liberal employees of media corporations but, still, nobody is more devoted to this cause: https://t.co/wqAvTVL4Or— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 30, 2022
Whereas another supporter of Rogan called attempts to have him cancelled as a form of "censorship."
"It's weird that you have to make a proclamation that you stand with a friend that ask questions and doesn't accept the status quo. The only reason I have @spotify is because @joerogan is on it," the social media user said.
But not everyone believes that Rogan should be let off the hook.
Some said that Spotify's decision to amend its rules on talking about Covid-19 seemed like they were designed "specifically to weave around the real problems and avoid having to take action against Rogan."
Spotify just responded to the Joe Rogan controversy by releasing more details on their rules against COVID misinfo, and tbh it really looks like they designed the rules specifically to weave around the real problems and avoid having to take action against Rogan. pic.twitter.com/IYqul9RRbk— Caroline Orr Bueno, Ph.D (@RVAwonk) January 31, 2022
Whereas another social media user said, "this isn't about censorship. It's about the misinformation that Spotify is financially SPONSORING."
Spotify isn’t just hosting Joe Rogan. They signed a $100 million contract with him to host his content exclusively on their platform.— No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen (@NoLieWithBTC) January 30, 2022
This isn’t about censorship. It’s about the misinformation that Spotify is financially SPONSORING.