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Spotify deletes over 100 'Joe Rogan Experience' episodes (updated)

But the controversial episode with Dr. Robert Malone is still there.
The Joe Rogan Experience podcast on Spotify displayed on a phone screen and headphones are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on February 3, 2022. (Photo Illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NurPhoto via Getty Images
Mariella Moon
Mariella Moon|@mariella_moon|February 5, 2022 6:21 AM

Spotify has been removing Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) episodes since Friday, and as of this writing, the service has pulled down a total of 113. As first noticed by Gizmodo, around 70 episodes have recently disappeared from the platform. Based on the website dedicated to monitoring which of the show's episodes aren't available on the service, those were removed on February 4th, in addition to the 40 deleted some time ago. However, the newly deleted episodes don't seem to be connected with the COVID-19 controversy surrounding the show and the service right now.

Several artists have exited Spotify recently because of Rogan's COVID-19-related episodes. An open letter addressed to the host from doctors and scientists pointed out that he had made several misleading claims about the virus in the past and promoted the use of ivermectin to treat it. They take the most issue with one specific episode in particular: Episode #1757 with guest Dr. Robert Malone, who claimed that people only believe COVID-19 vaccines are effective due to "mass formation psychosis." That episode is still available. 

Spotify doesn't seem to be deleting episodes in order. It's also unclear what policies the episodes broke to warrant being deleted. Spotify head of global communications Dustee Jenkins reportedly told employees on Slack before that a team reviewed multiple controversial JRE episodes and found that they didn't meet the threshold for removal. Jenkins also said that what Spotify hasn't done is share its policies externally, according to a report by The Verge, which also posted a copy of the service's pretty narrow COVID-19 guidelines. 

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The company's CEO admitted that its content policy should've been public before now when he reported Spotify's earnings for the fourth quarter of 2021. As for Rogan, he apologized for the backlash and said he'll do his "best to try to balance out these more controversial viewpoints."

Update 12:05PM ET: Early this morning, Joe Rogan apologized for "a lot of shit from the old episodes of the podcast that I wish I hadn't said, or had said differently." He directly addressed a compilation of clips from his show where he's using racist language. Rogan said he's not racist but acknowledges you should never use racist language, no matter the context. "Whenever you're in a situation where you have to say 'I'm not racist,' you fucked up," he explained. Engadget has reached out to Spotify for more information as to why the aforementioned episodes were pulled. There hasn't been any direct confirmation that they were removed due to racist language. 

Update 02/05/22 8:40PM ET: We corrected the number of episodes removed and clarified that some weren't part of the current deletions. We apologize for the error. 

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