Joe Rogan is no stranger to controversy and in recent years, the famed podcaster has been involved in numerous debates online regarding the content of his shows and the claims he’s made to his millions of listeners, many of which lack any credible source or scientific evidence. While in the past such leanings of Rogan could be taking with a handful of salt, in the age of the global pandemic where scientific evidence and health advice is increasingly being drowned out by voices of controversial figures and a growing anti-vax movement, the difference isn’t just a health-care system that’s now overworked and struggling to manage rising case numbers but also one of life and death.
In this time, Rogan has persistently doubted the coronavirus vaccine, despite the numerous trials in place and scientific evidence to back such vaccines. He instead argues that “healthy” people like himself don’t need it. Once Rogan did end up getting Covid-19, he endorsed a number of unproven treatments. It led Dr Anthony Fauci and other experts to step in and dispute claims made by Rogan, who later told his listeners that he’s “a moron.”
Rogan’s feeble attempt at an apology by way of simply veiling his doubt and undermining of science as moronic and merely a matter of asking questions of the situation is damaging though. Regardless of how he attempts to play it off, the fact is that Rogan’s podcast is one of the most listened to around the world. There are countless listeners out there who remain influenced by him and due to his staggering success, Spotify continues to promote his show. Not surprisingly, scientists are now looking to Spotify to take greater responsibility of the shows it promotes. The group is asking the audio giant to establish clearer guidelines on its platform.
As Rolling Stone reports, 270 physicians and scientists penned an open letter detailing how Rogan “has repeatedly spread misleading and false claims on his podcast, provoking distrust in science and medicine.” Other claims made by Rogan include discouraging young people from getting the vaccine, as well as promoting ivermectin as treatment for Covid. In a recent episode, Rogan featured a doctor who’d been banned from Twitter for promoting Covid-19 misinformation and who later compared pandemic policies to the Holocaust.
While the letter doesn’t ask Spotify to take action against Rogan’s podcast specifically, it instead asks the company to “immediately establish a clear and public policy to moderate misinformation on its platform.” It’s not a lofty goal either, given that other large social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have similar procedures in place.
Previously, Spotify has removed Rogan episodes which contained Covid-19 misinformation, but as the scientists seem to suggest, it’s not enough to stop the spread of such information entirely. Rather, it’s time Spotify put public interest and safety as its top priority rather than profit, as it continues to give leeway to its most popular, well-paid talents.