Joe Rogan, described on his social media as a stand-up comedian, martial arts fan, and psychedelic adventurer, is one of the most influential and highest-paid podcast hosts in the world, and one of the most controversial, especially for his positions on the COVID-19 vaccine, which have pitted him not only against the scientific community. but they have generated the rejection of artists.
The extensive resume of Rogan, who was a taekwondo champion, goes beyond his famous podcast, as he also has several comedy specials such as “Joe Rogan: Triggered” for Netflix, credits in some films such as “Zookeeper”, was a television host on NBC’s “Fear Factor” and a commentator for the UFC, just to mention some of his projects. However, it is the podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience” that has put Rogan in several headlines.
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The show handles a format of long interviews with various guests such as Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX; Edward Snowden, a former CIA contractor who leaked intelligence secrets in 2013, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders himself.
“The Joe Rogan Experience” was Spotify’s most popular podcast globally in 2021, according to Variety. In 2020, the show became a Spotify exclusive when Rogan signed an exclusive, multi-year licensing deal with the streaming service, which is believed to be worth more than $100 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
But Rogan has become an extremely controversial character after spreading misinformation about vaccines and covid-19.
Rogan and his stance on the pandemic
Watch Dr. Gupta argue with a vaccine skeptic 5:44
Rogan, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19, has previously expressed skepticism that young, healthy people should be vaccinated.
In fact, in April 2021, Rogan told listeners that if a 21-year-old asked him if they should get vaccinated, he suggested they didn’t. “If you’re a healthy person and you exercise all the time, you’re young and you eat well, I don’t think you should worry about this,” Rogan said.
He later clarified his comments, saying he is “not an anti-vax person” and that he is “not a respected source of information, not even to me.”
In September, the podcast host tested positive for covid-19. However, when asked if he would have liked to have been vaccinated before testing positive, Rogan said no, and indicated that he overcame the virus “pretty quickly.”
A month later, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, sat down for three hours with Rogan to talk about the pandemic, vaccines, potential therapies, and the risk the coronavirus poses to children and youth, among many other topics.
During the conversation between Gupta and Rogan, whose opinions were often confronted, the presenter agreed that certain people who are vulnerable to the virus should be vaccinated against covid-19, particularly obese people or the elderly.
The scientific community against Rogan
Musician Neil Young told Spotify that he no longer wanted his music to appear on the streaming service because of Rogan’s frequent false claims about covid-19 and vaccines.
In early January 2022, a group of more than 250 scientists, doctors, and nurses wrote an open letter to Spotify asking Spotify to warn its listeners about misinformation. This followed the guest episode of Dr. Rober Malone who was “criticized for promoting unsubstantiated conspiracy theories,” the letter reads.
“By enabling the spread of false claims and harmful to society, Spotify allows its hosted media to undermine the public’s trust in scientific research and cast doubt on the credibility of the data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals,” it reads.
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A month after the publication of this letter, artist Neil Young, who is an advocate for covid-19 prevention measures, said he didn’t want his music to share a home with misinformation about vaccines.
In a now-deleted post on his website, Young called on his managers and record label to remove his music from Spotify because he said the music and podcast platform is “spreading false information about vaccines, which could cause death to those who believe in this misinformation spread by them.” (Rolling Stone originally reported on the text of the deleted post.)
Spotify will no longer stream Neil Young’s music, at the artist’s request.
A spokesperson for the tech company told The Washington Post in a statement: “We want all the music and audio content in the world to be available to Spotify users. That comes with a huge responsibility in balancing both the safety of listeners and the freedom of creators.”
“We have detailed content policies and have removed more than 20,000 covid-19-related podcast episodes since the beginning of the pandemic. We regret Neil’s decision to withdraw his music from Spotify, but we look forward to welcoming him soon.”
Apple Music got into the debate, which just a day after Spotify agreed to remove Neil Young’s music from its service, “trolled” its streaming music rival by treating the musician like a star.
In a tweet sent late on Thursday, and subsequently posted to the top of Apple Music’s official Twitter account, Apple called its platform “the home of Neil Young.” Some Apple Music users also reported that they had seen Young’s albums and playlists promoted in the foreground in the “browse” section of Apple Music with the caption “We Love Neil.”