Reports have indicated that Spotify has removed approximately 70 episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience.” Many on the left have attacked Rogan for his promotion of alternative treatments of COVID-19.
“The apparent removal of the episodes, all of which were recorded years before the pandemic began, was spotted by JREMissing,” CNET originally reported. “The fan-made website uses Spotify’s API to compare available episodes to a database of all episodes recorded.”
Author Michael Malice said the platform removed two of his episodes from the program. Malice said the episodes were recorded before COVID-19.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told employees last week that the music streaming platform does not have editorial discretion over the podcast and that episodes can be removed only after they have been published:
“At the employee town hall, both Ek and chief content and advertising business officer Dawn Ostroff “repeatedly used the phrase ‘if we were a publisher,’ very strongly implying we are not a publisher, so we don’t have editorial responsibility” for Rogan’s show, said a second Spotify employee who listened to the remarks — and who, like some Spotify employees listening, found the executives’ position ‘a dubious assertion at best.’”
“In a chat linked to the town hall livestream, ‘A large portion of the angry comments were about how Spotify’s exclusive with Rogan means it’s more than just a regular platform,’ said one employee.”
The news came after Business Insider reported that former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, have looked for an alternative platform to host their podcast.
Last week, Ek defended the platform’s decision to host the show.
“We don’t change our policies based on one creator, nor do we change that based on any media cycle or calls from anyone else,” he said. “Our policies have been carefully written with the input from numbers of internal and external experts in this space, and I do believe they’re right for our platform.”
“Usually when we have controversies in the past, those are measured in months, not days,” he added. “But I feel good about where we are in relation to that and top-line trends look healthy still.”
Interestingly, comedian Jon Stewart defended Rogan and said the hysteria was “overblown rhetoric.”
"There's no question that there is egregious misinformation that's purposeful and hateful, and that being moderated is a credit to the platforms that run them," he said. "But this overreaction to Rogan, I think, is a mistake."
Instead, Stewart said free speech and engagement should be used to combat so-called “misinformation.”
"Don't leave. Don't abandon. Don't censor. Engage," Stewart said.
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