Nearly a week after Joe Rogan set off a firestorm for comments perceived as encouraging young people not to get a coronavirus vaccine, the host took to his Spotify show on Thursday and backpedaled on whether people need to get the shots.
“I’m not an anti-vax person,” said Rogan. "In fact, I said I believe they are safe, and I encourage many people to take them. I just said if you're a young healthy person, you don't need it.”
Those statements on The Joe Rogan Experience led to outrage and dismay from the health care community which is actively promoting people get vaccines – including to Rogan’s heavily young, male audience. During an appearance on NBC-TV’s “Today” show, Dr. Anthony Fauci did not address Rogan specifically but rather said it was important for young people to get vaccinated, saying by not doing so they “are propagating the outbreak.”
Rogan did not retreat entirely however, saying there is “some legitimate science” behind his comments, including vaccines should go first to people most at risk. "I am not a doctor. I am a f---ing moron. I am a cage-fighting commentator,” he said. “I am not a respected source of information even for me. But I at least try to be honest about what I am saying."
Rogan said he plans to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, saying he had been scheduled to receive the shot earlier this month, but their distribution was temporarily halted.
Despite calls that Spotify take down the April 23 episode with Rogan’s initial statements about the vaccine, the company has refused saying it did not violate its standards. Spotify earlier took down a podcast hosted by Australian host Pete Evans for allegedly spreading misinformation about COVID-19. At the time Spotify said it prohibits content “which promotes dangerous false, deceptive, or misleading content about COVID-19 that may cause offline harm and/or pose a direct threat to public health” adding, “When content that violates this standard is identified, it is removed from the platform.”
Spotify executives did not address Rogan’s comments during their quarterly conference call with analysts on Wednesday. When a Bloomberg reporter put the question to CEO Daniel Ek, he spoke in general terms. “"What I will say is we have eight million creators, and hundreds of millions of pieces of content. We have a content policy and we do remove pieces that violate it,” said Ek.
Spotify said on Thursday that its users have created almost 8,000 vaccine-themed playlists so far.
Spotify earlier yanked more than three dozen episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience. The episodes featured Rogan’s conversations with Alex Jones, David Seaman, Owen Benjamin, Stefan Molyneux, Milo Yiannopoulos, and disgraced comedian Chris D'Elia, among others. But Rogan told listeners in October he was not being told to change his content, saying despite complaints about his show among Spotify staff members his team had heard nothing from management.
Spotify signed a reported $100 million licensing agreement with Rogan to make his podcast exclusive to the platform.