Joe Rogan and Spotify: The drama of misinformation in the media


Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

Controversy has come up surrounding “The Joe Rogan Experience,” surrounding vaccine disinformation and the use of slurs.

Hannah Scott

For anyone who frequently listens to podcasts, “The Joe Rogan Experience” is probably incredibly familiar. Even for those who may not be listeners, it is still common to see sound bites or clips from the show on apps like TikTok or Instagram.

“The Joe Rogan Experience,” created by Joe Rogan, has become one of the top performing podcasts within the space, and in May of 2020, Rogan was offered a deal with Spotify for $100 million to make the show exclusive to the streaming service. 

Rogan accepted the deal, and in September of 2020, the show was added onto Spotify and in January of 2021 was made exclusive to the platform. Though the podcast has seen significant success under Spotify, within the past few months “The Joe Rogan Experience” has come under fire for a few significant reasons. 

Though Rogan has always been a controversial figure within the media, many individuals began to question him more heavily when he started speaking about his vaccine skepticism as well as seemingly spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine. In interviews with different individuals, Rogan stated that he did not believe that vaccinations were necessary for those who were young. 

In an interview with comedian Dave Smith, Rogan said, “If you’re like 21 years old and you say to me ‘should I get vaccinated?’ I’ll go ‘no.’”

Rogan was also found in an interview with Dr. Robert Malone stating that he defended his own use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 symptoms, which is an anti-parasitic drug often used for horses. He also stated that he believed it was safe for use in general. However, there has been limited evidence found that ivermectin actually helps in cases of COVID-19 and can often cause side effects as well.

Due to the misinformation, artists such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell pledged to take their music off of Spotify until the service would stop hosting “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

Though Spotify did not decide to drop Joe Rogan’s podcast, on Jan. 30, they did begin to add a content advisory to any episodes that had content discussions of COVID-19.

However, that is not the only controversy Rogan has found himself in within the past few months. In early 2022, songwriter India Arie put up on her Instagram account a montage of Rogan saying the n-word over twenty times in the past decade of his podcast. Because of this, Arie made a request to Spotify to drop his podcast once again.

“Yes, I decided to pull my music and my podcast from Spotify, but it’s duel,” Arie said about her decision to leave Spotify and her grievances with Joe Rogan. “One thing is the Joe Rogan conversation, and for me, his language around race and some of the things I’ve seen and heard, but also coupled with that, there is the treatment of artists by Spotify. So many artists are underpaid, and Joe Rogan gets paid all this money, and it’s hard for me to, these days, just sit back and go, ‘oh well, that’s how it goes.’”

Because of the backlash, Spotify refused to carry 71 of the podcast’s episodes that were found to contain offensive language and also said that they would be committing $100 million to create and promote audio from creators who are a part of historically marginalized groups.

The Joe Rogan and Spotify drama has spanned months now, and it can be seen that often speech within the media is a complex and nuanced issue.

For some, Joe Rogan should be allowed to speak his mind and have a platform, but to others, it seems that the disinformation campaign has simply become too much.