Joe Rogan pledges to ‘try harder’ after Spotify misinformation controversy

Podcast host apologises to streaming service, which has faced criticism over episodes featuring guests who shared Covid conspiracy theories

Joe Rogan has addressed controversy over his Spotify podcast, hours after the streaming service announced a plan to tackle the spread of Covid-19 misinformation.

In a 10-minute video posted to Instagram on Sunday night, the comedian and host pledged to “try harder to get people with differing opinions on” and “do my best to make sure I’ve researched these topics”.

“A lot of people … have a distorted perception of what I do,” he said, defending two recent episodes of the Joe Rogan Experience that featured guests who shared Covid conspiracy theories. He called these guests “highly credentialed … people [with] an opinion that’s different from the mainstream narrative.”

Rogan framed his podcast – which reaches an estimated 11 million listeners per episode – as “just conversations” which “started off as … having fun and talking”.

“It’s become what it is today, which is some out of control juggernaut that I barely have control of,” he said. “Often times I have no idea what I’m gonna talk about until I sit down and talk to people.

“I am gonna do my best in the future to balance things out.”

He also apologised to Spotify. “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.”

The episodes sparked a fresh round of furore, including from musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, who pulled their music from Spotify as a result.

“I’m not mad at Neil Young,” Rogan said, describing himself as a lifelong fan of the singer.

Earlier on Sunday, the chief executive of Spotify, Daniel Ek, released an official statement setting out the streaming platform’s plan to tackle misinformation, as more users publicly unsubscribed from the service, more musicians withdrew their music and the company lost billions of dollars in market value.

Nils Lofgren, guitarist with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, joined Mitchell and Young over the weekend in removing his music. He called on “all musicians, artists and music lovers everywhere, to stand with us all, and cut ties with Spotify”.

Without addressing Rogan, the popular American writer, lecturer and researcher Brené Brown announced she is pausing two podcasts, which are exclusive to Spotify – Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead – until further notice.


Sian Cain and Michael Sun

The GuardianTramp

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