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Trump tells Joe Rogan to ‘stop apologizing’ for Spotify controversies

Former president Donald Trump has said Joe Rogan shouldn't let the media and Democrats make him “look weak and frightened.” (Ross D. Franklin, Gregory Payan/AP)

Former president Donald Trump offered his support to Joe Rogan on Monday night, saying the embattled Spotify host should “stop apologizing” for controversies surrounding coronavirus misinformation and his past use of racial slurs.

Trump — who is facing criticism after the National Archives and Records Administration retrieved 15 boxes of documents and other items from his Mar-a-Lago residence that were improperly removed from the White House — claimed the media and Democrats had forced Rogan to “look weak and frightened” by apologizing for ongoing controversies. Rogan, already under fire in recent weeks after medical professionals and musicians decried him for helping spread misinformation on covid-19 on Spotify, apologized over the weekend for the many previous instances in which the host used the n-word on his podcast.

“Joe Rogan is an interesting and popular guy, but he’s got to stop apologizing to the Fake News and Radical Left maniacs and lunatics,” Trump said in a news release from his Save America PAC. “How many ways can you say you’re sorry? Joe, just go about what you do so well and don’t let them make you look weak and frightened.”

Trump added, “That’s not you and it never will be!”

The former president’s support comes after Spotify reiterated its support for Rogan, despite roughly 70 episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience” being recently removed from the platform without explanation. Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek wrote Sunday in an internal memo that Rogan, not Spotify, had chosen to pull the episodes.

Spotify says Joe Rogan removed podcast episodes amid controversy over racial slur

Rogan has repeatedly downplayed the need for coronavirus vaccines and used his platform to flirt with misinformation about covid-19. Podcasters and artists such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell have told the streaming service they were taking their work off Spotify because the company was allowing Rogan to spread misinformation on the pandemic. Mary L. Trump, the former president’s niece and fierce critic, was among those who removed their work from Spotify in response to Rogan.

Rogan, whose podcast library was acquired by Spotify in a reported $100 million deal, admitted that he could do more to better inform his millions of listeners, particularly when it comes to the pandemic.

Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, podcaster Brené Brown and more are standing up to Spotify for allowing Joe Rogan to keep airing coronavirus misinformation. (Video: Allie Caren/The Washington Post)

Then, the Spotify host on Saturday apologized in response to a compilation video shared widely on social media showing various moments over 12 years in which Rogan said the n-word on his show. The video was posted by singer India.Arie, who recently removed her catalogue from Spotify in response to Rogan’s “language around race.” While Rogan argued that the clips were taken out of context, the comedian acknowledged that the video looked “horrible, even to me,” saying his repeated use of the slur was “the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.”

“I know that to most people there is no context where a White person is ever allowed to say that word, never mind publicly on a podcast, and I agree with that now,” Rogan said in a video posted to Instagram, adding that he hadn’t said the racial slur “in years” and that he never used the n-word “to be racist because I’m not racist.”

Joe Rogan apologizes for ‘regretful and shameful’ past use of the n-word

In the same video, he apologized for a clip shared of him telling a story about being around Black people while seeing the film “Planet of the Apes.” “I was trying to make the story entertaining and I said: ‘We got out, and it was like we were in Africa, like we were in Planet of the Apes,’ ” he said. “I did not, nor would I ever, say that Black people are apes, but it sure … sounded like that. And I immediately said, ‘That’s a racist thing to say.’ ”

While Ek stressed that Rogan’s comments were “incredibly hurtful” and “do not represent the values of this company,” he told employees that pulling the podcast, which has an estimated audience of 11 million listeners an episode, would be a mistake.

“I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer,” Ek wrote in a memo shared with The Washington Post. “We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but canceling voices is a slippery slope.”

In memo to staff, Spotify CEO stands by ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’: ‘Canceling voices is a slippery slope’

A spokesman for Rogan did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Tuesday.

Donald Trump calling on Rogan to stop apologizing came the same day the National Archives and Records Administration acknowledged the recovery of the boxes from the former president’s Florida resort last month. While Trump advisers deny any nefarious content is in the boxes, the retrieval of the items raises new concerns about Trump’s adherence to the Presidential Records Act, which requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties.

National Archives had to retrieve Trump White House records from Mar-a-Lago

The Post reported that the items included correspondence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which Trump once described as “love letters,” as well as a letter left for Trump by President Barack Obama, according to two people familiar with the contents.

A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump’s remarks echoed his son Donald Trump Jr., who tweeted, “If they can cancel @joerogan they can cancel anyone.” Rumble, a short-video start-up that aims to become a right-wing competitor for YouTube, Facebook and TikTok, offered Rogan a $100 million deal to jump from Spotify to its platform Monday. Rumble has partnered with Trump Media and Technology Group, Trump’s newly formed social media company that aims to take on Big Tech.

Trump doubled down on his support of Rogan in a Monday interview with conservative pundit Todd Starnes.

“I stand with Joe,” Trump said.

Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger, Jessica Lipscomb and Ashley Parker contributed to this report.

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