Joe Rogan’s Misinformation Dilemma


The Boston Globe

Joe Rogan, a podcaster who has run his show The Joe Rogan Experience since 2009, has been called out for spreading COVID misinformation on his December 31st episode with Dr. Robert Malone. Spotify has refused to remove the episode from their platform, despite protests from those concerned about the effect of COVID and health misinformation. In the wake of this decision, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Mary Trump have all removed their content from Spotify. 


Rogan is no stranger to having questionable people and stances on his platform. Recently, Rogan was shown to have used racial slurs in previous shows, prompting Spotify to remove 71 of his episodes from their service and invest 100 million in creators from “historically marginalized groups.” 


Last May, Rogan suggested the possibility of microchips being in the COVID vaccine, siding with the far-right host Alex Jones. In August, Rogan told his listeners that the vaccine wasn’t like traditional vaccines, but rather a form of “gene therapy.” In a guest interview last month, he spoke with Peter McCollough, a cardiologist who claimed that pandemic was premeditated and that treatments were developed early on but were suppressed to promote fear and isolation. McCoullugh also claimed that the Australian vaccine trials turned those who participated HIV-Positive, and that it is not possible to get the coronavirus twice. While these were controversial, they didn’t spark the same outrage this other interviewee Rogan hosted in December. 


The misinformation that sparked the current controversy is what was said by Robert Malone on Rogan’s show. Malone says that he believes over a third of the national population are in a “mass-formation psychosis” that treat Fauci’s word as gospel. It’s worth noting that mass-formation psychosis is a concept that is almost entirely rejected by the psychological community and was created recently as a fear tactic. It is defined as when, “society becomes decoupled from each other and has a free-floating anxiety in things that don’t make sense.” 


Those who pulled their music are waiting for Spotify to take further action against misinformation. The platform seems to be taking a middle ground by putting a warning before the episode(s) with misinformation, but that doesn’t seem to be enough for those artists to put their content back. 


An anonymous senior at West Po and a listener of Joe Rogan (who wants to make it clear he’s not exactly a fan, but rather a listener) was asked about his thoughts on the situation. “I’d say take out the parts where he talks about the vaccine… [content platforms] definitely have a duty to remove verifiably false information that can harm people.” When asked about how he feels about the artists taking down their content in protest, he said “[I don’t think it’s] so much an overreaction as it is pandering [or] performative.”