Joe Rogan Addresses Podcast Backlash: 'I'm Not Trying to Promote Misinformation'

Joe Rogan is making a pledge and thanking his haters amid ongoing controversy over his popular Spotify podcast.

Joe Rogan has promised to do his "best."

Late Sunday, Rogan took to Instagram with a video message addressing the controversy surrounding his eponymous podcast, heightened further by Neil Young and Joni Mitchell's recent decisions to remove their music from Spotify in protest.

"I wanted to make this video first of all because I think there’s a lot of people that have a distorted perception of what I do maybe based on sound bites or based on headlines of articles that are disparaging," he told viewers. "The podcast has been accused of spreading dangerous misinformation, he continued, citing two past episodes in particular, one involving Dr. Peter A. McCullough and another with Dr. Robert Malone. 

"They have an opinion that’s different from the mainstream narrative," Rogan said, calling them very intelligent and accomplished. "I wanted to hear what their opinion is."

In response to some of his episodes being labeled "misinformation," the host argued that "many of the things that we thought of as misinformation just a short while ago are now accepted as fact." However, Rogan also acknowledged that, ultimately, he is just an interviewer. 

“I do not know if they’re right. I don’t know because I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist," Rogan said. "I’m just a person who sits down and talks to people and has conversations with them." He admitted to getting things wrong and trying to correct his inaccuracies. 

Still, Rogan said he's "not interested in only talking to people that have one perspective." Instead, he said he would be happy to include a disclaimer at the start of his more controversial episodes and is open to featuring more experts with differing opinions right after the controversial ones. As for the facts, Rogan said he would do his best "to make sure that I’ve researched these topics, the controversial ones in particular, and have all the pertinent facts at hand before I discuss them."

"I'm not trying to promote misinformation. I’m not trying to be controversial," he said. "I’ve never tried to do anything with this podcast other than just talk to people and have interesting conversations. I didn’t plan it. I can’t believe it's as successful as it is."

But, with his newfound responsibility, Rogan pledged, "I will do my best to try to balance out these more controversial viewpoints with other people's perspectives, so we can maybe find a better point of view."

He continued, "I don’t want to just show the contrary opinion to what the narrative is."

In regard to Young and Mitchell pulling their music from Spotify, Rogan said he "most certainly" does not want that and has no hard feelings toward them. He also expressed his gratitude to Spotify. “I want to thank Spotify for being so supportive during this time," he said. "I’m very sorry that this is happening to them and that they’re taking so much heat from it."

"My point of doing this is always just to create interesting conversations and ones that I hope people enjoy, so if I pissed you off, I’m sorry and if you enjoy the podcast, thank you," he said as he concluded the video. "Thank you to Spotify. Thank you all the supporters and even thank you to the haters because it's good to have some haters -- it makes you reassess what you’re doing and put things into perspective and I think that’s good, too." 

The host and his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience -- the number one podcast on Spotify in 2021 -- recently came under fire from Young, who issued an ultimatum to Spotify in a since-deleted public letter. "I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines — potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them," the musician reportedly accused in the letter initially shared on his website and addressed to his manager and a record label executive. "Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule."

"I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform," the letter continued. "They can have Rogan or Young. Not both."

Gary Miller/Getty Images

In response, a Spotify spokesperson told The Washington Post in a statement, "We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users. With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators. We have detailed content policies in place and we’ve removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon."

Other artists have since joined Young, including Mitchell, who declared in a statement on her website, "I've decided to remove all my music from Spotify. Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives. I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue." The singer-songwriter also cited "An Open Letter to Spotify," signed by a coalition of scientists, medical professionals, professors, and science communicators, that accused Rogan of repeatedly spreading "misleading and false claims on his podcast, provoking distrust in science and medicine."

"This is not only a scientific or medical concern; it is a sociological issue of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform," the letter concluded. "We, the undersigned doctors, nurses, scientists, and educators thus call on Spotify to immediately establish a clear and public policy to moderate misinformation on its platform.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who launched Archewell Audio on Spotify in December 2020, have voiced their concerns to Spotify behind the scenes. 

“Since the inception of Archewell, we have worked to address the real-time global misinformation crisis. Hundreds of millions of people are affected by the serious harms of rampant mis- and disinformation every day," a statement from an Archewell spokesperson read. "Last April, our co-founders began expressing concerns to our partners at Spotify about the all too real consequences of COVID-19 misinformation on its platform. We have continued to express our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public health crisis. We look to Spotify to meet this moment and are committed to continuing our work together as it does.”

On Sunday, Spotify confirmed that it is in the process of adding a "content advisory" to any podcast episode that includes discussion of COVID-19. "This advisory will direct listeners to our dedicated COVID-19 Hub, a resource that provides easy access to data-driven facts, up-to-date information as shared by scientists, physicians, academics and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources," a press release read. "This new effort to combat misinformation will roll out to countries around the world in the coming days."