In response to musician Neil Young’s recent campaign to deplatform him from Spotify, podcaster Joe Rogan has explained to his critics that much of the outrage directed towards him is based on “a distorted perception of what I do”
The ongoing campaign to remove Rogan from Spotify – and podcast platforms in general – gained another supporter last week after the left-wing musician sent an ultimatum to the audio streaming platform demanding that they either blacklist the podcaster or risk losing their licensing rights to his catalogue of music.
“I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” wrote Young in a January 24th letter to his management team. “Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.”
He further informed his team, “I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
“With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE, which is hosted exclusively on Spotify, is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence,” Young added. “Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
Two days later, Young doubled down on his quest to have Rogan removed from Spotify by encouraging other artists to follow his lead and pull their content from the platform in protest.
“Most of the listeners hearing the unfactual, misleading and false COVID information on SPOTIFY are 24 years old, impressionable and easy to swing to the wrong side of the truth,” wrote the musician in a January 26th post to his official website. “I sincerely hope that other artists and record companies will move off the SPOTIFY platform and stop supporting SPOTIFY’s deadly misinformation about COVID.”
(It should be noted that Young’s assertion appears to be a misrepresentation of the claim made in the open letter penned by individuals involved with the medical field, as detailed below, that “the average age of JRE listeners is 24 years old and according to data from Washington State, unvaccinated 12-34 year olds are 12 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than those who are fully vaccinated.)
According to Young, he first became aware of how “SPOTIFY has recently become a very damaging force via its public misinformation and lies about COVID” after reading the now infamous letter penned by a coalition of over 250 medical field adjacent individuals – ranging from doctors, to professional scientists, to nurses, and even a “puberty and sex educator” – requesting Spotify implement a “take action against the mass-misinformation events.”
“On Dec. 31, 2021, the Joe Rogan Experience (JRE), a Spotify-exclusive podcast, uploaded a highly controversial episode featuring guest Dr. Robert Malone (#1757),” wrote the group. “The episode has been criticized for promoting baseless conspiracy theories and the JRE has a concerning history of broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic,”reads the coalition’s open letter to Spotify.”
They further argued, “By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals.”
“JRE #1757 is not the only transgression to occur on the Spotify platform, but a relevant example of the platform’s failure to mitigate the damage it is causing,” the coalition asserted. “This is not only a scientific or medical concern; it is a sociological issue of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform”
Young’s recent censorship campaign even garnered support from the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“.@NeilYoungNYA, thanks for standing up against misinformation and inaccuracies around #COVID19 vaccination,” wrote Ghebreyesus. “Public and private sector, in particular #socialmedia platforms, media, individuals – we all have a role to play to end this pandemic and infodemic.”
Rogan eventually addressed this latest campaign in a January 31st video shared to his personal Instagram, wherein he told his followers, “I think 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.”
“The podcast has been accused of spreading ‘dangerous misinformation,’ specifically about two episodes — a little bit about some other ones — but specifically about two,” said the podcaster in a 10-minute video shared on his Instagram. ” One with Dr. Peter McCullough and one with Dr. Robert Malone.”
Rogan went on to explain, “Dr. Peter McCullough is a cardiologist, and he is the most published physician in his field in history,” while “Dr. Robert Malone owns nine patents on the creation of mRNA vaccine technology, and is at least partially responsible for the creation of the technology that led to mRNA vaccines.”
“Both these people are very highly credentialed, very intelligent, very accomplished people, and they have an opinion that is different from the mainstream narrative,” he elaborated. “I wanted to hear what their opinion is. I had them on, and because of those episodes in particular — those episodes were labeled as being ‘dangerous.’ They had ‘dangerous misinformation’ in them.”
Strictly tackling the use of the word ‘misinformation’ to label his podcast, Rogan explained that the main problem he has with the term, especially in today’s political climate, is that “many of the things that we thought of as ‘misinformation’ just a short while ago are now accepted as fact.”
“Like, for instance, eight months ago, if you said, ‘If you get vaccinated, you can still catch COVID and you could still spread COVID,’ you’d be removed from social media,” the podcaster said. “They would ban you from certain platforms. Now, that’s accepted as fact.”
He continued, “If you said, ‘I don’t think cloth masks work,’ you would be banned from social media. Now, that’s openly and repeatedly stated on CNN. If you said, ‘I think it’s possible that COVID-19 came from a lab,’ you’d be banned from many social media platforms. Now, that’s on the cover of Newsweek.”
“All of those theories that at one point in time were banned, were openly discussed by those two men that I had on my podcast, that have been accused of [spreading] ‘dangerous misinformation,’” a baffled Rogan summarized.
Wrapping up his video, Rogan pledged to his viewer that, going forward, he would “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,” as he did not “want to just show the the contrary opinion to what the narrative is.”
“I want to show all kinds of opinions so that we can all figure out what’s going on,” he reassured his audience, specifying that this is “not just about COVID,” listing, topics such as health, fitness, wellness, and the state of the world itself.
“It’s a strange responsibility to have this many viewers and listeners,” he opined. “It’s very strange and it’s nothing that I prepared for, and it’s nothing that I ever anticipated. I am going to do my best in the future to balance things out.”
Ultimately, Rogan reasserted his promise “to do my best,” clarifying that “my point of doing this is always just to create interesting conversations and ones that I hope people enjoy.”
What do you make of Rogan’s comments on Young’s censorship campaign against him? us know your thoughts in the comments section down below or on social media.