THE NEUTRAL ZONE
Standup comic and popular podcast host Joe Rogan apologized for a false claim he made during a recent episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” featuring British conservative author Douglas Murray. This apology renewed the debate around Rogan’s role in the media. Rogan tweeted that he made false claims about “left-wing people” lighting forest fires intentionally in Oregon. “There was one guy who got arrested for lighting fires somewhere else and someone sent me something about people getting arrested for lighting fires in Portland,” Rogan said in his apology. “I said it without looking into it. It was very irresponsible.”
This uncharacteristic apology from Rogan comes as many employees at Spotify are reportedly attempting to take more editorial control over Rogan’s content. In an effort to increase its available podcast content, Spotify purchased the streaming rights to Rogan’s podcast in a landmark $100 million deal, boosting the streaming platform’s shares by 8.4% overnight. According to a Vice News report, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek held a company all-hands meeting in which he defended his decision to keep some controversial episodes of the podcast on Spotify’s platform. Some employees argue that the inclusion of Rogan’s recent interview with Abigail Shrier, author of “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters” was transphobic and a violation of employee rights. Several previously recorded episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience were excluded from Spotify’s catalog, such as episodes featuring far-right figures Alex Jones, Gavin McInnes, and Stefan Molyneux.
Many journalists and public figures argue that Joe Rogan is an important cultural figure and that his podcast creates a place for long-form uncensored discussion on controversial subject matter often ignored by legacy media. Investigative Journalist Glenn Greenwald, known for his work with whistleblower Edward Snowden on uncovering illegal spying by American and British global surveillance programs, tweeted in defense of Rogan’s role in the discourse. “Seems indisputable that Joe Rogan has a greater commitment to defending press freedoms, and a far better understanding of what’s at stake in the Assange prosecution and extradition, than the vast majority of establishment media outlets,” Greenwald stated.
Some are calling for Rogan to moderate a presidential debate, as he hosted select presidential candidates on his platform earlier in the election cycle. Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, and Andrew Yang all appeared on the podcast, while other Democratic candidates were turned down, according to Rogan. Bernie Sanders received backlash from some of his supporters after appearing on Rogan’s show, saying that Rogan’s content cuts against progressive values. During a recent podcast episode with Army special forces veteran Tim Kennedy, Rogan stated his interest in hosting a debate between 2020 presidential candidates Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, to which President Trump responded that he would be willing to participate.
Joe Rogan spread dangerous misinformation about fires. Now he says he’s sorry. – CNN – 9/18/2020
“What has been reported is that there are local and state officials all through the region who have been coming out and refuting these conspiracy theories,” she added. CNN National Correspondent Miguel Marquez told Keilar that local sheriffs and the FBI have investigated and are “begging people to stop spreading false information.” Indeed, the FBI on September 11 issued a statement saying that it “has investigated several such reports and found them to be untrue.” In his Instagram video on Friday, Rogan apologized to the listeners he may have misled.
Spotify Employees Demanding Editorial Oversight Over Joe Rogan – Digital Music News – 9/18/2020
But despite the glaring omissions, Spotify staffers are now stepping up their demands to control more of Rogan’s content. Vice first reported that Spotify employees have conducted more than ten meetings to discuss possible changes. Those discussions included proposals for the outright removal of additional podcast episodes. Of particular focus in an earlier conversation featuring author Abigail Shrier, who wrote Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. Shrier’s opinions on the matter drew howls of protest from certain Spotify staffers, who demanded its removal — though the episode is still available on the Spotify platform.
Joe Rogan Is Already a Headache for Spotify – Vulture – 9/22/2020
The fact that Rogan issued an apology appears to have nipped this specific incident in the bud for now, but it did nevertheless raise the question of what would have happened if the situation turned out to be a little more complicated. What if the claim was murkier, or less solidly debunked? Would Spotify have left the episode up? Would it have added contextualizing indicators on the platform?
As Joe Rogan’s Platform Grows, So Does the Media and Liberal Backlash. Why? – The Intercept – 9/22/2020
The objections typically raised to Rogan concern his questioning of some of the very recent changes brought about by trans visibility and equality, particularly asking whether it is fair for transwomen who have lived their entire lives and entered puberty as biological men to compete against cis women in professional sports (a question also asked (and even answered in the negative) by LGBT sports pioneer Martina Navratilova, among many others), and whether young children are emotionally and psychologically equipped to make permanent choices about gender reassignment therapies and gender dysphoria.