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Joe Rogan says he will 'try to balance' controversial viewpoints amid Spotify misinformation dispute

(JRE podcast)

Iconoclast podcaster Joe Rogan responded to the numerous doctors and celebrities calling out the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast for COVID-19 misinformation, saying he will do his best to balance out the “controversial viewpoints” that have put the program in hot water.

Rogan, a newer Austin resident, took to Instagram to address the controversies, which include open skepticism of vaccines in recent podcast interviews, in a 10-minute video. In particular, the episodes with mRNA technology contributor Dr. Robert Malone and cardiologist Dr. Peter McCollough have been flagged for spreading misinformation.

“I don’t want to just show the contrary opinion to what the narrative is,” Rogan said in the video. “I want to show all kinds of opinions so that 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.”

Controversy arose in mid-January, when a team of over 270 doctors, academics and healthcare workers called on Spotify to end the “mass-misinformation” on the JRE podcast via open letter. More recently, celebrities like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell called on Spotify to stop “fake information about vaccines” and gave an ultimatum: “Rogan or Young. Not both.”

The artists subsequently pulled their music from the platform after Spotify refused to remove the podcasts, siding with Rogan. The boycott is growing—Nils Lofgren of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band encouraged musicians to “cut ties” with the streaming platform and Austin-based podcaster Brené Brown said she’s pausing her Spotify-exclusive podcast “until further notice.”

Rogan said he “absolutely” gets things wrong on the show and is “interested in telling the truth,” citing that he also had CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Michael Osterholm, a member of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board on the podcast.

Rogan also mentioned that he felt “very sorry” that Young, of whom he said he is a fan, and Mitchell removed their music. Rogan said he worked with Spotify to patch the issue by including a disclaimer reminding listeners to talk to their doctors and that opinions may be controversial at the beginning of the show.

Rogan said he felt he could also do better by having someone with a differing viewpoint shortly after his more controversial episodes.

“My pledge to you is that 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,” Rogan said.

Meanwhile, though Spotify executives made no specific mentions of Rogan, CEO Daniel Ek confirmed the streaming service would add a “content advisory” warning at the beginning of any podcast episode that discusses COVID and direct them to a “COVID-19 hub.”

Plus, for the first time, Spotify released its platform rules, which ban content that promotes “dangerous false or dangerous deceptive medical information that may cause offline harm or poses a direct threat to public health.”

“We know we have a critical role to play in supporting creator expression while balancing it with the safety of our users,” Ek wrote in a public letter. “In that role, it is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.”


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