Shortly after Spotify announced that it would add a 'content advisory' to COVID-19 podcast episodes, Joe Rogan has issued his own response to the controversy. In a video uploaded to Instagram, he apologized to Spotify for the backlash that saw Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and other artists remove their music from the platform. He also defended his his decision to book controversial guests, while promising to "balance things out" with differing opinions.
"Some of my ideas are not that prepared or fleshed out because I’m literally having them in real time, but I do my best and they’re just conversations, and I think that’s also the appeal of the show," he said in the video. "It’s one of the things that makes it interesting. So I want to thank Spotify for being so supportive during this time, and I’m very sorry that this is happening to them and that they’re taking so much from it."
Two of his most controversial guests, Dr. Peter McCullough and Dr. Robert Malone, made multiple unproven claims related to COVID-19. Malone, for example, falsely claimed that "mass formation psychosis" is what led people to believe that vaccines are effective against COVID-19. That episode in particular led a group of over 1,000 doctors, nurses, scientists and educators to send an open letter to Spotify demanding that it create a misinformation policy.
In his video, Rogan said that those guests are "highly credentialed, very intelligent, very accomplished people, and they have an opinion that is different from the mainstream narrative. I wanted to hear what their opinion is." He also disputed the episodes being labeled "misinformation," saying that many of their opinions are shared by mainstream listeners.
Rogan has also drawn criticism for spreading COVID-19 misinformation himself. He has said that hospitals are financially motivated to record COVID as the cause of death, and has promoted the anti-parasitic treatment ivermectin as a means of treating COVID symptoms — something that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has called "dangerous."
"’I'm not a doctor. I’m not a scientist. I’m just a person who sits down and talks to people and has conversations with them," he said. "Do I get things wrong? Absolutely. I get things wrong, but I try to correct them whenever I get something wrong. I’m interested in finding out what the truth is, and I’m interested in having interesting conversations with people that have differing opinions. I’m not interested in only talking to people that have one perspective."
Rogan said he agrees with Spotify's plan to apply advisory labels to episodes related to COVID-19, and promised to have experts with differing opinions following controversial guests. "I will do my best to try to balance out these more controversial viewpoints with other people’s perspectives so we can maybe find a better point of view," he said.