Spotify Is Pulling Joe Rogan’s Podcast Episodes as He Apologises for Racist Language

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The streaming giant Spotify has been hit with a fresh batch of problems to do with its $100 million man, Joe Rogan. The comedian and podcast host of the Joe Rogan Experience made an unreserved apology over the weekend for using the N-word in previous episodes of the show after a video compilation of him using it surfaced online.

Rogan and Spotify were already in crisis mode last week after legendary singer-songwriter Neil Young pulled his music from the platform over Rogan’s anti-vaxx sympathies. Young’s departure sparked a boycott of the platform, with several other contemporaries, including Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills, and Nash, following suit.

One of the musicians who left the platform was R&B singer-songwriter India Arie, who, in addition to the COVID misinformation being shared by Rogan and his guests, also cited Rogan’s use of racial language as something she didn’t want to be seen to support by proxy.

Taking to Instagram to clarify her position, Arie shared a compilation video in which Rogan can be heard using the N-word pretty liberally. Some of the clips date back at least 12 years, however, there are many more recent examples as well, totally more than 20 counts.

Rogan also describes walking into a place where there “were no white people” as like “Planet of the Apes.

“He shouldn’t even be uttering the word,” Arie says in response to the clips. “Don’t even say it, under any context. Don’t say it. That’s where I stand, it’s my right to stand there and I have always stood there.”

Rogan posted a lengthy response to Arie and the videos in question which he describes as “the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publically.”

In the response, Rogan claims that the videos have been taken out of context, however, acknowledges that the clip “looks f*cking horrible, even to me.”

“I know that to most people, there’s no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word, never mind publically on a podcast, and I agree with that now,” Rogan said.

“I haven’t said it in years but for a long time, when I would bring that word up, if it would come up in conversation, instead of saying ‘the N-word,’ I would just say the word. I thought as long as it was in context, people would understand what I was doing.”

Rogan goes on to explain that during some of these conversations in which he used the word, he was talking about the usage of the word itself in public discourse, including in the title of one of legendary Black comedian Richard Pryor’s performances and in the films of Quentin Tarantino.

In response to the controversy, Spotify has quietly taken down 113 episodes of the podcast hosted on its platform, including episodes with far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes.

The website JRE Missing, which tracks episodes that have been taken off of Spotify, noted that 70 episodes had been removed on Saturday, rising to 113 today.

It’s thought that these episodes have been removed due to their racial content and not for their COVID-19 misinformation, as many of them were recorded well before the pandemic. It’s also been reported that Rogan has worked with Spotify to identify and remove episodes that might be offensive.

Last week, the platform had announced that it was attempting to clean up its image, adding content warnings to podcasts and content on its site that contained COVID-19 information that was not supported by mainstream medical science. They have also announced that they will be creating a COVID-19 information space where people can access true, factual information about the virus.

With this fresh round of controversies now dominating the COVID misinformation, there is growing support for a boycott of the Spotify platform and the podcast hosts, often thought to be one of the most influential people in the world, has certainly taken a big hit to his credibility.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who last week came out in defense of Rogan, posting a comment on his Spotify apology video in which he said he was “looking forward to coming on [the podcast] one day and breaking out the tequila,” has since walked back his support.

Writing in response to author Don Winslow, who called out Johnson for “terrible use” of his power in offering his support to Rogan, Johnson said that he “was not aware of [Rogan’s} N-word use prior to my comments” but he has now “become educated to his complete narrative.”

“Learning moment for me,” Johnson wrote.

Whether others will have similar learning moments is likely as this momentum of controversy builds around Rogan and Spotify. The platform has not however yet made a decision over whether or not to keep Rogan on their site.

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