Jon Stewart spent two decades as our go-to bullshit caller as host of The Daily Show, but when it comes to Joe Rogan’s COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, he isn’t so quick to shut him down. In a new episode of his Apple TV+ podcast The Problem with Jon Stewart, the comedian said artists’ decision to leave Spotify in protest of Rogan was “a mistake.”
“There’s no question that there is egregious misinformation that’s purposeful and hateful and all those other things,” Stewart conceded. But Rogan’s COVID takes, the comedian said, are no such thing. As proof, Stewart offered a Joe Rogan Experience episode in which the host argued with Australian media personality Josh Szeps about whether COVID-19 itself or its vaccine was more likely to make patients vulnerable to myocarditis. When the two disagree, Rogan offered to look it up, and when he was proven wrong, he took it in stride. This, according to Stewart, makes Rogan less of a threat than his opponents would like to think.
“If you are an ideologue or if you are a dishonest person, that is the moment,” Stewart said. “Like, Tucker Carlson in that situation never would have looked it up and would’ve given that look he gives, like somebody’s giving him a confusion enema.”
Because Rogan has proven himself to be open to other opinions (read: science) than, say, a FOX News anchor, Stewart offered dissenting artists a different strategy: “Don’t leave, don’t abandon, don’t censor, engage.”
It’s a bit of an interesting take from Stewart, who more-or-less abandoned cable television because he was tired of combatting FOX News’ misinformation. But, alas, as he reminds us, stupid infiltrates all entertainment media, and you can’t abandon them all. That’s why he has a talk show again! Watch Stewart’s full Spotify Exodus Address below.
Stewart is just one of a growing list of celebrities — musical and otherwise — who have spoken out about Spotify following Neil Young’s initial complaint against the platform. Revisit our recap of where The Rock, David Crosby, Joni Mitchell, and more stand on the issue here.
As for Stewart, the comedian last made headlines when he suggested J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter banker goblins were anti-Semitic. In April, he will receive the 2022 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.