Over the last several months, Joe Rogan Experience has become a breeding ground for false COVID information. Among other things, Rogan has encouraged his young fans not to get vaccinated, and interviewed the controversial Dr. Robert Malone, who has compared pandemic safety policies to the Holocaust and accused public officials of ‘hypnotizing’ the public. Earlier this month, a group of scientists, doctors, professors, and healthcare workers wrote an open letter of their own regarding the dangers of the podcast, asking Spotify to “immediately establish a clear and public policy to moderate misinformation.”
The controversy reached a fever pitch last week when Neil Young issued an ultimatum to Spotify to either remove his music or Rogan’s podcast. As he put it, “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.” Spotify promptly removed Young’s music, stating, “We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users. With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators.” In solidarity with Young, Joni Mitchell and E Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren removed their own music from the platform.
Rogan said he felt compelled to record a video response “because there’s a lot of people that have a distorted perception of what I do maybe based on sound bites or based on headlines of articles that are disparaging.”
In defending his bookings of vaccine skeptics like Dr. Malone and Dr. Peter McCullough, Rogan described them as “very highly credentialed, very intelligent, very accomplished” who have opinions “that differ from the mainstream narrative. I wanted to hear what their opinion is.” He also argued against the term “misinformation,” because “many of the things we thought as misinformation just a short while ago are now accepted as fact,” such as the effectiveness of vaccines against spreading the virus and the effectiveness of cloth masks. (It’s worth noting that while vaccines do not prevent an individual from contracting covid, they do dramatically reduct the risk of hospitalization or death. And while cloth masks aren’t as effective as high-grade surgical masks, they still offer more protection than wearing nothing at all.)
Rogan acknowledged that “he is not a doctor or a scientist” (obviously), and he does “get things wrong.” Going forward, he said he would make an effort to invite “more experts with differing opinions right after I have the controversial ones,” and promised to “do my best to make sure I’ve researched these topics.” He also said he agreed with Spotify’s decision to add disclaimers prior to episodes featuring discussions about COVID-19.
“I pledge to balance out the more controversial viewpoints with other people’s perspective so many we can find a better point of view, I don’t want to just show the contrary opinion to what the narrative it, I want to show all kinds of opinions,” Rogan continued. “My point was to create interesting conversations, and ones people enjoy. If I’ve pissed you off, I’m sorry. And if you enjoy the podcast, thank you.”
Regarding the Neil Young-led boycott, Rogan described himself as a “Neil Young fan” and said he was “very sorry” that Young, Mitchell, and others “feel that way. I most certainly don’t want that.”
Watch Rogan’s full video response below.