Joe Rogan: Controversy at its Finest 

54-year old podcaster is under the media backlash after controversial episodes spark the nation. 

Cody Wagner, Staff Writer

Joe Rogan is many things: comedian, actor, UFC commentator, TV show producer, etc., but recent news regarding controversies related to misinformation and racism have stirred the media world as Rogan continues to take heat for false claims and comments made regularly throughout his highly renowned and successful podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience.” 

The backlash revolves around podcast segments involving misinformation related to COVID-19 and a separate incident with racially triggered comments made by Rogan. An episode with Dr. Robert Malone released Dec.31 discussed the COVID-19 virus and its treatment. Months before the episode, Malone was taken off Twitter due to the spread of misinformation. Despite this, Rogan made an effort to hear the doctor out, believing that he was in the company of a well-educated and knowledgeable member of the health industry. 

Throughout the episode Malone made questionable claims, such as COVID-19 vaccines can put people who’ve had the virus at higher risk. He also formulated a theory known as “mass formation psychosis” believing that a majority of the population is being “hypnotized”  in compliance with COVID-19 procedures. Both claims were instantly refuted by healthcare professionals who presented a letter to Spotify with 270 signatures advocating for issues of misinformation regarding COVID to be addressed.

Another widely discredited COVID-19 claim resulted from an episode Rogan conducted with author and biologist Bret Weinstein, who stated “Ivermectin alone is capable of driving this pathogen to extinction.” That claim has also been widely refuted by the current consensus of medical professionals as well as the manufacturer of Ivermectin

Joseph Goldberg, communications professor at COD, who is currently teaching a course designed for spotting and acknowledging misinformation reflected on his thoughts regarding the situation.

 “When you’re No.1 people are gonna hold you to a different standard,” he said. “And if you’re held to that standard, you have a responsibility to your listenership, and the listeners have a responsibility to interpret what they hear.”  

Doctors, psychologists, and other esteemed members of the medical field weren’t the only voices of protest against Rogan. Artist Neil Young ignited rebellion against Spotify, threatening the removal of his musical catalog if Rogan’s podcast remained on the streaming service. Young is a major advocate for the COVID-19 vaccine and made the stance to stop the spread of misinformation within the media. Soon after his response went public, others followed in hopes of combating the issue of misinformation: Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Mary Trump are among some that have spoken out.

“They’re trying to create awareness of what they disagree with and what’s happening between misinformation and Spotify through Joe Rogan,”  said Goldberg. “Misinformation is like a virus. It can morph and change strains, and we have to be constantly battling as it continues to move around through age and demographic groups exposed to new platforms.”

 Rogan first responded to the backlash on Jan. 31, through a nine minute video uploaded to social media and Spotify reflecting upon the situation while offering some hopeful and sincere feedback. 

“I’m not trying to promote misinformation,” Rogan said. “I’ve never tried to do anything with this podcast other than just talk to people and have interesting conversations. If I’ve pissed you off, I’m sorry.

Alongside Rogan, Spotify’s initial response, despite not naming Rogan’s podcast directly, addressed the issue by stating that measures would be taken in the form of warning labels on podcasts that center around the subject of COVID-19, particularly pertaining to controversial thoughts/opinions. But this would only be a sliver of the issue as Rogan would face even more criticism to come.

 Rogan has also recently acquired even more backfire that stemmed from a compilation of old episodes highlighting points throughout his career where he made racially offensive remarks that included the use of the n-word from multiple episodes. 

 Rogan once again addressed the situation on Friday in another video published to social media. Rogan said the compilation video was “the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly” while adding that the video spanned from 12 years of conversation and now understanding the influence of the word and its disapproval of utterance within any context. 

Amidst the racially charged backlash it was reported that Spotify removed 70 episodes of Rogan’s podcast hosting guests such as Amy Schumer, Marc Maron, Bill Burr, Andy Dick, and Tool front man Maynard James Keenan along with countless others. Spotify has not issued a response as to the removal but one could most likely assume its relation to public backlash, providing an easy scapegoat for corporate entities to make quick and unexplained decisions just for public appreciation. 

Goldberg expressed his thoughts regarding Rogan’s response.

“I think he’s a pretty smart and sensitive guy,” Goldberg said. “It’s all a learning experience, and he seems as though he wants to challenge himself to do better.