Joe Rogan has found himself in hot water after inviting controversial far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
Alex Jones was banned from all major tech platforms — Spotify, Facebook, Youtube, and Apple — back in 2018. Spotify made the call to boot Infowars off its platform as it “expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics.”
When Spotify bought the exclusive rights to The Joe Rogan Experience back in September, a bunch of controversial episodes were notably missing — including conversations with Gavin McInnes, Chuck Johnson, Milo Yiannopoulous and, you guessed it, Alex Jones.
The latest interview with Jones has seen the conspiracy nut spout misinformation about masks not being effective in preventing coronavirus infection, climate change denial, anti-vaxxer rhetoric and other garbled political nonsense. It’s also left Spotify in a sticky situation.
The relationship between Spotify and Joe Rogan’s podcast has been a source of conflict amid employees of the streaming service.
On September 16th, employees challenged CEO Daniel Ek in a town-hall meeting over a JRE podcast episode featuring anti-trans author Abigail Shrier.
“In the case of Joe Rogan, a total of 10 meetings have been held with various groups and individuals to hear their respective concerns,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said at the time. “And some of them want Rogan removed because of things he’s said in the past.”
“Others have concerns specifically over a recent episode,” Ek continued. “And Joe Rogan and the episode in question have been reviewed extensively. The fact that we aren’t changing our position doesn’t mean we aren’t listening. It just means we made a different judgment call.”
Spotify has refused to comment on the latest episode of the Joe Rogan Experience. Though an internal email obtained by BuzzFeed News from Spotify chief legal officer and head of global affairs Horacio Gutierrez, details the approach that employees have been instructed to take in regards to the podcast.
“Spotify has always been a place for creative expressions,” the email said. “It’s important to have diverse voices and points of view on our platform.” The email also say Spotify “won’t ban specific individuals from being guests on other people’s shows, as the episode/show complies with our content policies.”
When Joe Rogan first signed the deal with Spotify, he emphasised that he would have complete creative control of the show’s content: “It’s just a licensing deal, so Spotify won’t have any creative control over the show. They want me to just continue doing it the way I’m doing it right now.”