It’s one of the biggest controversies in recent days. In January, 270 scientists and healthcare professionals wrote an open letter to Spotify. They expressed concern about the “false statements dangerous to society” contained in the most listened-to Spotify-exclusive podcast in the United States, “The Joe Rogan Experience.”
The signatories to the letter warned against misinformation related to the Covid-19 pandemic. And they specifically mentioned an episode of the podcast where the guest was Robert Malone, a physicist who has made scientifically false claims about the pandemic.
The episode was criticized for spreading baseless conspiracy theories, including a speech that claimed the Society’s leaders had hypnotized people. “Dr. Malone is one of two recent guests to compare the pandemic’s restrictions to the Holocaust. Not only is it offensive, it’s dangerous.” Malone’s Twitter account had previously been suspended for spreading false information.
A few days later, on January 24, legendary musician Neil Young gave Spotify an ultimatum. They’ve either stopped publishing Joe Rogan’s podcast or they’ve stopped having his music on the platform. Two days later, Spotify removed Young’s song from the catalog. Other musician friends have joined the cause: such is the case of Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash.
Spotify’s decision came as no surprise, as Spotify paid around $100 million to Joe Rogan in May 2020 to broadcast his podcast exclusively. While Neil Young had six million monthly listeners on the platform, Joe Rogan has around 11 million listeners per episode.
To give you an idea of the size of the Spotify bet, the $100 million is an amount the platform has never paid a musician. An artist would have to generate 23 billion streams on Spotify to earn that amount, which never happened.
Joe Rogan is not a journalist nor does he have a media program. He is a comedian and moderator who records long episodes – which can last up to two or three hours – with guests from a wide variety of fields. It doesn’t make conflicting comments, so it ends up providing a huge platform for guests to spread their ideas – which are sometimes backed up by incorrect information.
Rogan cannot be held legally responsible for this, although he himself has already made some comments based on incorrect data. “This is not a vaccine, this is basically gene therapy,” he said of vaccines that fight Covid-19, which is not true. And he argued that the risk of young people suffering collateral damage (such as myocarditis) from vaccines is greater than the risk if they were infected with Covid-19, which is also not true.
Despite all the criticism, Spotify responded by examining the possibility of placing references to podcast content. Joe Rogan appeared to accept the possibility and asserted that he would remain more neutral in his programs. His audience consists mainly of male listeners.
But who is actually Joe Rogan?
At 54, Joe Rogan is probably the most famous podcaster in the world. Born in Newark, New Jersey of Italian and Irish descent. His father was a police officer and ceased to be present in little Joe’s life when he was only seven years old. The parents had divorced two years earlier.
“All I remember of my father are short, violent outbursts of domestic violence… But I don’t want to complain about my childhood. Nothing really bad happened to me… I don’t hate him,” he said in an interview with Rolling Stone.
During his childhood and adolescence he lived in San Francisco, California, but also in Florida until the family settled in Boston. From his early youth he developed a strong interest in martial arts. They gave him confidence. “That was the first thing that gave me hope that I wouldn’t be a loser in life,” he said in another interview.
He was 14 years old when he started practicing karate and then taekwondo and kickboxing. He took part in important competitions and achieved a few victories. But he retired from martial arts at age 21. He began to suffer from severe headaches and feared that if he continued to compete he would suffer further damage.
He’s always been a comedy fan. In martial arts, he told anecdotes to his peers – they were what convinced him to make his debut in stand-up. It took place in a small bar in Boston in 1988, and he’s been pursuing that career ever since. However, the beginnings were not easy. I had to balance comedy with other types of work to make ends meet.
He taught martial arts, delivered newspapers, drove a limousine, worked in construction and even worked in a private detective agency. In 1990 he moved to New York to pursue comedy 100 percent. He lived with his grandfather in Newark for a few months before he was able to start his own business.
In the mid ’90s he moved to Los Angeles and began working in television. He has played a number of comic roles as an actor, including one on the sitcom NewsRadio, where he – with the writers – developed his own character.
Joe Rogan became friends with fellow actor Phil Hartman, who confided in him about his marital problems. Rogan has tried multiple times to persuade Hartman to leave his wife, but to no avail. In 1998, Phil Hartman was murdered by his wife. This incident impacted Rogan, who canceled several stand-up comedy shows for a while.
Around the same time, he had started working with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as one of the hosts. There he worked for several years, taking into account his specialty and taste in martial arts, where he consolidated his name.
In 2001 he began presenting the program “Fear Factor” which was a success – hence it lasted until 2006. Over the years he has presented other programs, participated in films and recorded comedy specials while serving the stand- up shows maintained. high.
Although the rise of podcasts has only been seen in recent years, 2009 saw the birth of The Joe Rogan Experience. He started the project with his friend and fellow comedian Brian Redban. A year later, it was already on the iTunes Top 100 list. Over the years it has proven its strength and captured an ever-growing audience, making it Joe Rogan’s best-known project.
Also in 2009, he married Jessica Ditzel, a former barmaid with whom he has two children. The family went through several places and as of 2020 they have been living in a millionaire mansion in Texas.
Politically and ideologically, Joe Rogan describes himself as a libertarian. She claims to support gay marriage, women’s rights, drug legalization and even a welfare state. He also advocates the use of guns and has been accused of discriminating against transgender people on several occasions.
He has been a harsh critic of what he calls “cancellation culture” and has supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party leadership race – Sanders belongs to the left wing of the party. He is a major critic of US President Joe Biden and presents himself as a challenger to the status quo.