According to the report, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek had to defend the move to keep transphobic content on The Joe Rogan Experience.
Joe Rogan, the most popular podcaster in the country, is causing an internal strife amongst employees who work at Spotify. According to a report from Vice, an all-hands company meeting was held on Wednesday, September 16th. Back in May, Spotify struck an exclusive multi-year licensing deal with The Joe Rogan Experience. (The deal is reported to be north of $100 million.) While the deal was celebrated out in public, reaction seems to be mixed inside of the company.
According to the report, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek had to defend the move to keep transphobic content on The Joe Rogan Experience. This comes as Spotify has already removed episodes with controversial right-wing figures like Alex Jones, Chuck Johnson, and Gavin McInnes.
Vice revealed two of the questions Ek was asked. They were:
“Many LGBTQAI+/ally Spotifiers feel unwelcome and alienated because of leadership’s response in JRE conversations. What is your message to those employees?”
And the other was:
“Why has Spotify chosen to ignore Spectrum ERG’s guidance about transphobic content in the JRE catalog?,”
Concerns are particularly around from episode #1509, released in July, in which Rogan interviewed Abigail Shrier, author of the book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. During that interview, Shrier spreads transphobic claims, associating transitioning with autism and saying that YouTube was influencing kids to be trans. That episode is still on Spotify. And doesn’t seem like it will be removed.
Ek, who asked those in attendance to keep things quiet, responded by saying:
“Others have concerns specifically over a recent episode…And Joe Rogan and the episode in question have been reviewed extensively. The fact that we aren’t changing our position doesn’t mean we aren’t listening. It just means we made a different judgment call.”
When Vice reached out to Spotify, they responded by saying:
“At Spotify, we are strongly committed to the LGBTQ+ community and diversity in all of its forms. All employees are respected and we believe that everyone has a right to be heard. We have a number of forums for open and transparent discussion and we encourage rigorous debate on topics across the company. All content on Spotify is subject to our long-standing content guidelines. Our diverse team of experts reviewed the content in question and determined that it did not meet the criteria for removal from our platform.”
Rogan is a very important figure in the podcasting space. But he’s also a controversial one. Rogan, who used to be a comedian, has said racist and transphobic things in the past. He has hosted many problematic figures.
Rogan’s past comments started popping up again at the top of the year — during the height of the Democratic primary fight — when Rogan announced that he would vote for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders .
Bernie Sanders posted a clip from episode #1415, which featured ex-New York Times Opinion editor Bari Weiss, on his official Twitter account.
“I think I’ll probably vote for Bernie… He’s been insanely consistent his entire life. He’s basically been saying the same thing, been for the same thing his whole life. And that in and of itself is a very powerful structure to operate from.” -Joe Rogan pic.twitter.com/fuQP0KwGGI
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 23, 2020
“I think I’ll probably vote for Bernie,” Rogan said. “I like him a lot…you could dig up dirt on every single human being that’s ever existed if you catch them in their worst moment and only display those moments. That said, you can’t find very many with Bernie. He’s been insanely consistent his whole life. And that in and of itself is a very powerful structure to operate from.”
Twitter users and media outlets began circulating clips from past episodes of Rogan’s podcast. In one, Rogan compares a Black neighborhood to the movie Planet of the Apes.
Watch Joe Rogan, who endorsed Bernie, compare Black People to “The Planet of the Apes.”
Bernie’s campaign sure attracts Openly Racists jerks. pic.twitter.com/yX79yDKT7O
— ⚖️Bernie Sanders Will Never Be President ⚖️ (@KHiveQueenB) January 24, 2020
Users also started retweeting a clip featuring the many times Rogan has said the N-word on his show.
Bernie Sanders just recently received Joe Rogan’s endorsement. Here’s the former Fear Factor host using the N WORD on multiple occasions. pic.twitter.com/KLpBATEBgh
— gregarious (@GRYKING) January 24, 2020
Rogan has also received backlash for making transphobic and homophobic comments in the past.
Joe Rogan talking about his theory that childhood sexual abuse is what makes some people gay.
Oh, and he is sharing this theory with the founder of the alt-right Proud Boys.
This is the guy Bernie proudly announced as his new endorser yesterday. https://t.co/ZceMqOfFMp
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) January 24, 2020
Joe Rogan also had friendly interviews with Milo Yiannopolous & Jordan Peterson, yelled “you’re a fucking man” on-air about a trans woman, vocally argued against allowing trans kids puberty blockers THIS YEAR, says “f*g,” and believes the world is stacked against men, so. Enjoy. https://t.co/X1oFy71elf
— Sady Doyle (@sadydoyle) January 24, 2020
— Shannon (@TheStagmania) January 23, 2020
Bernie’s campaign cutting a campaign ad with Joe Rogan fucking sucks. Rogan is an incredibly influential bigot and Democrats should be marginalizing him.
— Carlos Maza 🌹 (@gaywonk) January 24, 2020
Rogan’s Podcast made its Spotify debut on September 1, 2020. It will become exclusive to the platform later this year.
This story was updated on September 17th, 2020.