Joe Rogan—host of popular “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast and the biggest podcast star on Spotify—is once again the topic of mainstream discussion and controversy, and “cancel culture” alarmists have already picked sides.
According to Digital Music News, Spotify has removed 42 episodes of the comedian’s popular podcast from its catalog, including a recent episode with Dave Asprey, the founder of Bulletproof Coffee who refers to himself as the “father of biohacking.” The Swedish streaming giant has also removed episodes involving comedians Owen Benjamin, David Seaman, Joey Diaz, Brian Redban, and Chris D’Elia, who was recently accused of sexually exploiting a minor and soliciting child pornography in a federal lawsuit.
Spotify had previously removed episodes featuring far-right extremists such as Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulous, Stefan Molyneux, and Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes.
While Rogan addressed Spotify’s decision to delete select episodes during a recent episode—“I don’t care,” he told guest Fahim Anwar at the time—a portion of the podcaster’s rabid fanbase has since lashed out at the streaming platform with claims of censorship, while conservative figures such as Sen. Ted Cruz referred to it as the latest example of “Big Tech” interference.
“Big Tech continues to quietly erase whatever Big Brother doesn’t like,” Cruz tweeted Thursday in reference to Spotify removing several episodes of Rogan’s show. “It disappears into the ether. What could possibly go wrong?”
Spotify has given no indication as to why it has chosen to remove several dozen episodes of Rogan’s podcast now when some of the episodes had been available for years. However, it is worth noting that the comedian has long been a lightning rod for controversy. In October, he invited radical conspiracy-monger Alex Jones—who called the Sandy Hook school shooting a “false flag”—onto his podcast again, despite Jones’ ban from Spotify. While Rogan went to some lengths to try to fact-check Jones, whom he considers a friend, he still celebrated Jones for “getting so many things right.” That podcast episode reignited the debate about the lengths to which platforms are responsible for deplatforming harmful actors. The October episode with Jones remains accessible on Spotify.
Since signing a $100 million exclusivity deal with Spotify, Rogan has falsely claimed that “left-wing people” started the wildfires in Oregon, a statement for which he later apologized; stated that he doesn’t plan to take the COVID-19 vaccine because he is “healthy” and didn’t feel he “needed it”; and criticized the transgender community by falsely claiming that “dumb people” can be praised simply for “transferring their gender.” 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.
Spotify’s removal of the episodes also followed fresh criticism from Dr. Danielle Belardo, a cardiologist based in Newport Beach, California, referred to the controversial comedian as a “harm to public health” for spreading medical disinformation on his platform. With a large following of her own, she then instructed her audience to promptly ignore any of Rogan’s content if it appears on their social media feeds.
“Joe Rogan platforms antivaxxers, heart disease and cholesterol deniers, statin misinformation, LDL misinformation, metabolism misinformation – the list goes on,” Belardo said in an April 2 post on Instagram. “He reaches millions of people with his disinformation. Heart disease is the number one killer and he continuously entertains guests who deny heart disease, who lie about the causes of heart disease, who encourage people to avoid guideline directed medical therapy. He hosts anti vaxxers during a pandemic. He’s a harm to public health.”
Belardo went on to compare Rogan to Gwyneth Paltrow, who founded the wellness and lifestyle brand Goop that has since been criticized for promoting products that have no scientific basis, no medical benefits, and for potentially being harmful to consumers. Belardo referred to Rogan as “Goop, marketed for men.”
“I can just save us all a lot of time and remind y’all that almost everything that comes out of Joe Rogan and Goop is wildly inaccurate, sometimes benign pseudoscience at best, dangerous disinformation at worst,” she added.