As a growing number of musicians yanked their work from the streaming service Spotify over misinformation about coronavirus vaccines, podcaster Joe Rogan posted a video this weekend admitting he could do more to better inform his millions of listeners, particularly when it comes to covid-19.
The second: “do my best to make sure that I’ve researched these topics — the controversial ones in particular — and have all the pertinent facts at hand before I discuss them.”
“I don’t always get it right,” he said.
Rogan’s comments came amid a firestorm after hundreds of medical professionals called out Spotify earlier this month for letting the podcaster spread “false and societally harmful assertions” about the coronavirus and vaccines, The Washington Post reported. Then, starting with folk rocker Neil Young a week ago, a growing number of artists and podcasters told the streaming service they would take their work off Spotify if the company did not stop Rogan from spreading misinformation on the coronavirus.
“I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines — potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” Young wrote in a letter explaining his decision. “ … I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
Spotify chose Rogan, who gave the company exclusive rights to his podcast in 2020 for a reported $100 million. On Wednesday, Spotify started taking down Young’s music, including the hits “Heart of Gold,” “Old Man” and “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
Ultimatums from other artists followed. Singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell on Friday announced she was pulling her music from Spotify to “stand in solidarity” with Young over what she called “lies that are costing people their lives.” Nils Lofgren, frontman of the band Grin and a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, wrote in a statement on Young’s website that he was also cutting ties with the streaming service. Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, who have deals to host podcasts for Spotify, on Sunday released a statement expressing “concerns” about covid misinformation on the platform.
So far, Spotify has stuck with Rogan.
On Sunday, the streaming giant broke its silence over the growing rebellion. The company announced it was publishing its internal rules that govern what’s allowed on the platform and tweaking its policies about coronavirus content by adding a disclaimer to any podcast dealing with covid-19.
“We know we have a critical role to play in supporting creator expression while balancing it with the safety of our users,” CEO Daniel Ek wrote in a news release. “In that role, it is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.”
Hours after Spotify’s announcement, Rogan said in his Instagram video that he supports the addition of disclaimers to episodes of his show that mention covid.
Rogan hinted at “other things going on behind the scenes” that are driving the controversy without specifying what those were. He apologized to Young, Mitchell and others who are upset.
“I’m very sorry that they feel that way. I most certainly don’t want that,” Rogan said, adding that he’s “a huge Neil Young fan.”
On his podcast, Rogan has suggested that young, healthy people shouldn’t get vaccinated, contrary to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When he caught the coronavirus in September, Rogan told listeners he’d treated the infection with the antiparasitic drug ivermectin, which the Food and Drug Administration has strongly recommended against in fighting covid, the disease caused by the virus.
In his video, Rogan thanked Spotify for sticking with him and apologized to the company for “taking so much heat” over his podcast. Rogan said he’s not trying to spread misinformation or be controversial. He started his podcast to have “interesting conversations,” Rogan said, never dreaming it would become as successful as it has since launching in 2009. It has become one of the most listened-to programs as podcasting has exploded in popularity over the past decade.
Yet Rogan described how he’s struggled to manage his show’s ascent.
“It’s … like some out-of-control juggernaut that I barely have control of.”
Timothy Bella, Travis Andrews and Adela Suliman contributed to this report.
Coronavirus: What you need to know
Vaccines: The CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older get an updated covid booster shot. New federal data shows adults who received the updated shots cut their risk of being hospitalized with covid-19 by 50 percent. Here’s guidance on when you should get the omicron booster and how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections.
New covid variant: The XBB.1.5 variant is a highly transmissible descendant of omicron that is now estimated to cause about half of new infections in the country. We answered some frequently asked questions about the bivalent booster shots.
Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.
Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. In the U.S., pandemic trends have shifted and now White people are more likely to die from covid than Black people. Nearly nine out of 10 covid deaths are people over the age 65.
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