Joe Rogan has issued a response to the ongoing controversy that has seen artists including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell removing their music from Spotify because of not wanting to share a platform with his popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. In a nearly ten-minute video uploaded to Instagram, Rogan defends his decision to book contentious guests, apologizes to Spotify for the backlash, and details how the podcast may change in the future.
“These podcasts are very strange because they’re just conversations,” Rogan says. “And oftentimes I have no idea what I’m going to talk about until I sit down and talk to people. And that’s why some of my ideas are not that prepared or fleshed out because I’m literally having them in real time, but I do my best and they’re just conversations, and I think that’s also the appeal of the show. It’s one of the things that makes it interesting. So I want to thank Spotify for being so supportive during this time, and I’m very sorry that this is happening to them and that they’re taking so much from it.”
Rogan mentions two podcast guests that much of the controversy has focused on, Dr. Peter McCullough and Dr. Robert Malone. Both of these guests made multiple unsubstantiated claims related to the COVID-19 pandemic on The Joe Rogan Experience, according to fact-checking organization Science Feedback. Rogan says of the guests that they 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.”
Despite the widespread debunking of many of the guests’ statements, Rogan takes issue with those episodes being labeled “misinformation.” He argues that the guests’ positions on certain subjects like the effectiveness of cloth masks, the origin of the virus, or whether vaccinated people could catch and spread COVID would have once got you “removed from social media” but have subsequently become accepted mainstream discourse. He doesn’t address their other claims.
“I do not know if they’re right,” he continues. “I don’t know because I’m not a doctor. I’m not a scientist. I’m just a person who sits down and talks to people and has conversations with them. Do I get things wrong? Absolutely. I get things wrong, but I try to correct them whenever I get something wrong. I try to correct it because I’m interested in telling the truth. I’m interested in finding out what the truth is, and I’m interested in having interesting conversations with people that have differing opinions. I’m not interested in only talking to people that have one perspective.”
While unrepentant about booking guests with disputed opinions, Rogan does say he’s open to ways in which the podcast could improve. He says he agrees with Spotify’s plan to label episodes that include COVID-19 discussion with content advisories and disclaimers. He also says he wants to “have more experts with differing opinions, right after the controversial ones.”
“I will do my best to try to balance out these more controversial viewpoints with other people’s perspectives so we can maybe find a better point of view,” 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.”
Spotify reportedly struck a nine-figure deal with Rogan in 2020 for the rights to host his show exclusively. In documents seen by The Verge, the company deemed that multiple controversial Joe Rogan Experience episodes “didn’t meet the threshold for removal.” Last year The Verge reported that Spotify reviewed an episode where he advised 21 year olds not to get vaccinated and deemed it to be within the company’s content guidelines.