Joe Rogan weighed in again on the controversy over his repeated use of the N-word on his podcast — and Spotify’s removal of dozens of past episodes because of his “racially insensitive language” — and this time played the victim card.
Last Friday, Spotify pulled 70 episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience” from its platform, dating from 2009 to 2018, which the streamer said it did at the request of Rogan and his team. That came after singer India Arie last week said she was pulling her music and podcasts off Spotify, citing Rogan’s “language around race." She reposted a video on Instagram, compiling 24 times Rogan used the N-word on his podcast, and the resurfaced clip soon went viral.
Joe Rogan apologizes for using racial slur in past podcastsFeb. 7, 202203:56
Rogan addressed the situation in Tuesday’s episode of his podcast, which is exclusively distributed by Spotify.
“That video had always been out there. It’s like, this is a political hit job,” Rogan said. He continued, “And so they’re taking all this stuff I’ve ever said that’s wrong and smushing it all together.”
At the same time, Rogan said, “It’s good because it makes me address some (expletive) that I really wish wasn’t out there.”
“You just have to stay offline … Life goes on, as normal,” Rogan told his guest, stand-up comedian and actor Akaash Singh, at the start of the episode.
“Real life is people who know you, and you’re a great guy,” Singh told the podcaster.
He added he was proud of Rogan for apologizing for his use of racial slurs.
“We’ve all said some wild (expletive), and you apologized, and owned that it’s wrong, good for you,” Singh said.
Rogan added, “I do think you have to be very careful to not apologize for nonsense.” He cited Awkwafina’s recent statement addressing critics accusing her of appropriating Black culture. “They were saying it was a ‘blaccent,’ which is — come on, man,” Rogan said.
In an Instagram post on Saturday, he responded to the clip of him saying the N-word. He said it was “the most regretful and shameful thing I’ve ever had to talk about publicly,” and added that he had not used the N-word in years.
Following Rogan’s apology, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek on Sunday sent a memo to employees saying the he was “deeply sorry” for how the controversy over the podcaster has affected them. But, he wrote, “I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer… canceling voices is a slippery slope.”
In his memo to employees, Ek also said Spotify will invest $100 million for the licensing, development and marketing of music and audio content from “historically marginalized groups.” Spotify’s exclusive multiyear deal with Rogan is reportedly worth more than $100 million.
To be sure, Rogan has been a controversial figure even before Spotify inked its exclusive deal with him in 2020. When Spotify added “The Joe Rogan Experience” to the service in September 2020, it had dropped some episodes including those featuring right-wing guests such as Alex Jones, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes and Milo Yiannopoulos.
The current intense spotlight on Rogan — who had the No. 1 most listened-to podcast on Spotify last year — started last month after Neil Young demanded Spotify remove his songs or drop Rogan’s podcast, citing COVID misinformation on the show. On Monday, Young urged Spotify employees to quit, writing in a blog post, “Get out of the place before it eats up your soul. The goals stated by Ek are about numbers — not art, not creativity.”