Joe Rogen, an American podcaster, has recently stirred controversy with his views on vaccination and government mandates to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On New Year’s eve, Rogen invited Dr. Robert Malone, virologist and inventor of mRNA, on his show ‘The Joe Rogan Experience (JRE)’ for episode #1757 on Spotify.
In the show, Malone made provocative statements and claimed ‘mandates of an experimental vaccine are explicitly illegal’ and said the US government was ‘out of control.’
He also compared COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the US to that of Germany in the 1920s and 30s when Hitler and his Nazi party rose to power.
On the show, he says, “What the heck happened to Germany in the 20s and 30s? A very intelligent, highly educated population and they went barking mad. And how did that happen? The answer is mass formation psychosis.”
Malone continues, “When you have a society that has become decoupled from each other and has free-floating anxiety in a sense that things don’t make sense, we can’t understand it, and then their attention gets focused by a leader or series of events on one small point just like hypnosis, they literally become hypnotised and can be led anywhere.”
The microblogging site Twitter banned Dr. Robert Malone on December 29, 2021, for spreading Covid misinformation.
Earlier this month, hundreds of scientists and medical professionals urged Spotify to take action against Rogan in an open letter, accusing him of spreading false information on a podcast.
“By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions,” the letter said, “Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals.”
Along with hundreds of doctors, Neil Young, a Canadian-American singer, musician, and songwriter, raised concerns about the spreading of misinformation.
He asked his record labels and managers to remove his music from Spotify consequently. As a result, Spotify shares fell 12 per cent on Friday, January 28, losing over $2B in value.
“I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” Young wrote in a post on his website, which he deleted later, according to Rolling Stone. “Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.”
“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” he said in Monday’s post. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
“With an estimated 11M listeners per episode, JRE, which is hosted exclusively on Spotify, is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence,” the letter reads. “Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have also raised concerns over misinformation on the streaming platform, however, they reiterated their commitment to continue using it to push their content.
Spotify’s reaction and reply
Spotify, which paid $100M for rights to Joe Rogen’s podcast in 2020, broke its silence.
The company has agreed to remove Neil Young’s music from the streaming service. Spotify will also add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19.
“This advisory will direct listeners to our dedicated COVID-19 Hub, a resource that provides easy access to data-driven facts, up-to-date information as shared by scientists, physicians, academics, and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources,” says Chief Executive Officer Daniel Ek.
“This new effort to combat misinformation will roll out to countries around the world in the coming days. To our knowledge, this content advisory is the first of its kind by a major podcast platform,” Daniel Ek wrote in a blog post.
Joe Rogen’s reply
Joe Rogen has issued a response to the ongoing controversy in a ten-minute video uploaded on Instagram. He promised to be more balanced and informed about controversial topics and guests in the future.
He says, “I don’t want to just show the contrary opinion to what the narrative is. I want to show all kinds of opinions so we can all figure out what’s going on and not just about COVID, about everything, about health, about fitness, wellness, the state of the world itself.”
Rogan also said he will have more guests on the show that present different opinions, and thanked Spotify for their support.
You can check out the entire video, below: