Spotify has removed more than 70 episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcast, which has recently come under fire among progressive and Hollywood circles for allegedly promulgating Covid-19 misinformation.
The deletion was discovered by JREMissing, a website which automatically detects episodes that become unavailable on Spotify.
While much of the criticism has targeted Rogan’s pandemic-related conversations with guests, most of which diverged from medical and scientific consensus, the scrubbed episodes seem to deal partially with what the company deemed racially insensitive content.
Rogan addressed his audience on Instagram Saturday to discuss two episodes, in which he said the n-word and compared a black neighborhood to the Planet of the Apes movie.
“There’s nothing I can do to take that back. I wish I could. obviously, that’s not possible,” Rogan said. “I certainly wasn’t trying to be racist, and I certainly would never want to offend someone for entertainment with something as stupid as racism.”
Some of the episodes featured guests associated with conservative and libertarian thought, such as Ryan David Tuttle, who studies the behaviors and underlying neurobiology of substance use disorders and is affiliated with Atheists for Liberty. Spotify deleted an episode with Gad Saad, a Canadian Evolutionary Behavioral Scientist, as well as two episodes with Ukrainian-American author Michael Malice.
In the last week, a celebrity coalition launched a fresh cancel-culture campaign against Rogan for giving Covid-19 dissenters who have been skeptical of the vaccination push and other pandemic status quo a platform to share their views.
Singer Neil Young gave Spotify, which is headquartered in Sweden, an ultimatum to deplatform Joe Rogan from the streaming service or else he would pull his music, to which the company did not cave. Folk singer Joni Mitchell shortly after joined Young in leaving Spotify.
While Rogan’s relationship with Spotify has stirred a lot of drama, his licensing deal with the company is worth over $100 million. At a recent town hall, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said the inclusion of Rogan’s podcast is crucial to the company’s business model.
“If we want even a shot at achieving our bold ambitions, it will mean having content on Spotify that many of us may not be proud to be associated with,” Ek said. “Not anything goes, but there will be opinions, ideas and beliefs that we disagree with strongly and even makes us angry or sad.”