Joe Rogan—host of popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast and the biggest podcast star on Spotify—interviewed radical right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on a recent episode of his show despite the fact that Jones himself has been banned by the Spotify platform.
Rogan, who hosted Jones on two previous occasions on his show, conducted a three-hour discussion with Jones and podcast host Tim Dillon on topics ranging from climate change, Hunter Biden, vaccine concerns, globalists, and the influence of tech companies on freedom of speech.
At the top of the show, Rogan addressed his friendship with Jones, explaining that he does not believe in de-platforming people.
“People have criticized me for being friends with you, for talking to you, and they have also criticized me for not supporting a lot of these people that were banned and deplatformed,” Rogan said to Jones near the start of the episode. “My take on it has always been the best way to counter wrong speech is correct speech. When someone says something that’s wrong or a conspiracy theory that’s not accurate, the best way to counter that is to do better speech…and to let the truth rise to the top.”
Jones has long been banned from all major platforms, including Spotify, which canceled ‘The Alex Jones Show’ in 2018 “due to repeated violations of Spotify’s prohibited content policies.” (Author note: Jones was banned, in part, due to reporting by Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt.)
Jones has peddled conspiracies about white genocide, vaccines, 9/11, and climate change. He claimed that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 and the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018 were false flag operations, which led to parents of victims and survivors being harassed and threatened.
Over the past decade, Rogan has hosted a wide range of controversial and far-right figures on his show, including Jordan Peterson, Candace Owens, Steven Crowder, Gavin McInnes, Milo Yianoppoulos, Bret Weinstein, Roseanne Barr, Mel Gibson, and Ted Nugent, among others. Interestingly, he has also hosted renowned figures like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, athletes like Mike Tyson, and progressive politicians like Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang.
While Rogan prides himself on his “question everything” mentality, his podcast has proven to be dangerous in its ability to convey false information to impressionable followers who already question the legitimacy of mainstream science and media. He has been guilty of spreading false information several times in 2020 alone, including information relating to Obamagate, an unfounded conspiracy theory based on President Donald Trump’s claims that former president Barack Obama broke a law during his transition out of office. He also claimed that left-wing people started the wildfires in Oregon, a statement for which he later apologized.
In an attempt to provide some sort of balance to the three-hour interview, Rogan tried to factcheck Jones’ various claims. Along with his producer Young Jamie, Rogan sought out relevant news articles surrounding some of Jones’ claims. He even asked Jones to avoid discussing topics like 9/11, and urged him to tread carefully with some of his accusations. At one point, Rogan warned him: “We’re gonna go down another rabbit hole, you son of a bitch.”
Despite the lengths Rogan went to fact-check Jones, he also celebrated the conspiracy-monger for “getting so many things right.”
“We all know that you’ve fucked some things up,” Rogan said.
“Your biggest fuck-up was Sandy Hook,” Rogan added, referring to Jones’ claims that the massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., never happened. “But you’ve gotten so many things right. This is why I keep talking to you about these things and why I defend you, and why I think it is fucking dangerous to censor you.” Rogan, notably, did not mention a single thing that Jones has supposedly gotten “right.”
As for Spotify, the popular platform is unlikely to take any editorial action against Rogan for Jones’ appearance. An internal email from Spotify’s chief legal officer and head of global affairs Horacio Gutierrez which was leaked to Buzzfeed framed the matter as a question of context, and stated that “we are not going to ban specific individuals from being guests on other people’s shows, as the episode/show complies with our content policies.”
“It’s all too common that things are taken out of context,” Gutierrez added.