Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is backtracking on his tweet defending Joe Rogan, in which he claimed Rogan isn't racist because he works with Black people.
"I don't think Joe Rogan is a racist — the man interacts with and works with black people literally all of the time," Yang tweeted Sunday.
Yang, who appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience in February 2019, added, "Do I know black friends of Joe's who would swear by him? Yes I do."
Yang's comments came one day after Rogan, who has been the center of controversy regarding Covid-19 and vaccine misinformation on his Spotify podcast, issued a public apology for his past use of racial slurs.
In a five-minute video shared on Instagram on Saturday he said, "I never used it to be racist." He said though he used the N-word in the past, he hasn't used it in years, calling his behavior "the most regretful and shameful thing that I've ever had to talk about publicly."
Yang's comments sparked swift backlash, including outrage from Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison, who tweeted, "Dude… seriously?! You joking right Andrew? Is that now the new defining line… working with folks?!"
Yang deleted his original tweets and shared a new thread saying, "I think we should have the capacity to forgive people — whether a podcaster or a mayor — if they mess up. Maybe it's because I mess up too."
He said "racism is real," admitting, "I made a mistake in an earlier tweet tonight that downplayed these realities."
He said he deleted the tweet because it was "wrong-headed."
"It also hurt people, which is never my intent. I'm sorry. I'm learning and appreciate those who reached out to express their feelings," Yang added.
The tweets are the latest event in Rogan's Spotify saga.
Rogan is one of the streaming platform's stars. Spotify signed him in 2020 to a multiyear contract reported to be worth more than $100 million, and his program reaches an estimated 11 million listeners per episode.
In a letter to company employees Sunday, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek apologized for the Rogan scandal but said he did "not believe that silencing Joe is the answer."
The company took down about 70 episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience over the weekend. It's unclear if Spotify removed those episodes due to his use of a racial slur, Variety reported.
Rogan's podcast has been criticized by celebrities and medical professionals alike. Stars like singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell and Neil Young have pulled their music from the platform in protest of vaccine misinformation being shared on Spotify.
Rogan defended himself last week, vowing to "try harder" to offer more of a balance on his podcast.
In response to the backlash, the streaming service announced it would add a content advisory to any podcast episode that discusses the coronavirus.
Rogan has also faced heat for giving a platform to people on the far right in the past. Several of those controversial episodes with far-right figures were missing from Spotify when Rogan's podcast launched on the platform, Variety reported.