Joe Rogan is facing another online controversy. The host of the most popular podcast in the world recently talked to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Jones is famous for believing the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting in 2012 was a hoax and that the government controls the weather. Jones is a longtime friend of Rogan’s, and they recently did a three-hour show together.
Recently, an old episode of the Joe Rogan Podcast featuring Alex Jones was removed by Spotify. It’s Rogan’s new home after a mammoth $100 million hosting deal. In 2018, Spotify also removed Jones’ own podcast citing hate speech. While drinking heavily on the latest episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, the conspiracy theorist lied about masks not preventing COVID-19 infections, arguing against climate change and told more falsehoods.
Repeatedly, Rogan fact-checked Jones and even seemed to have an earpiece helping him do it. Because Rogan fact-checked Jones several times, that’s why Spotify is arguing the episode doesn’t break their policy. “Spotify has always been a place for creative expressions,” Spotify’s chief legal officer, Horacio Gutierrez, wrote in a company memo. “It’s important to have diverse voices and points of view on our platform. We are not going to ban specific individuals from being guests on other people’s shows, as the episode/show complies with our content policies.”
Several Spotify employees have expressed concern about the podcast and its guests, alleging they spread hate speech and violate the company’s policies. The concern first followed an episode in which Rogan had on his podcast the author behind “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has defended The Joe Rogan Experience to concerned employees, who are uncomfortable with hate speech and, in the case of Alex Jones, spreading lies.
Over the last few years, Joe Rogan has been championed online as an interviewer. Most likely, Rogan doesn’t even view himself as an interviewer. For some strange reason, his millions of fans do. The former Fear Factor host and star of the excellent half-hour comedy series, NewsRadio, though, isn’t a good interviewer. Not by any stretch of the imagination. He’s a fine conversationalist at times. As an interviewer, he doesn’t even match the basic qualifications of the job description.
For starters, he talks a lot about himself. That’s great for fans of Rogan, but as an interviewer, that goes against the whole point of interviewing someone. The spotlight is on the interviewee. Rogan, however, will repeatedly share the same anecdotes about himself to new guests. Fans have heard Rogan, again and again, talk about his love of hunting, isolation chambers, MMA, Alpha Brain, and his personal thoughts on the transgender community. Interviewers also don’t tell interviewees how they believe the moon landing was possibly faked.
When it comes to interviewing, Rogan never challenges his guests, unless it’s about marijuana or something personal to him. As a show host, the stand-up comedian only picks and chooses which subjects to seriously question his guests about. If anyone dares to question legalizing marijuana, Rogan will go at them hard. If Rogan has Proud Boys’ Gavin McInnes or any other controversial guest on his show, he’ll conveniently say his job is to let them just talk. He cherry-picks when to challenge people, usually when it’s easiest.
Rogan will even admit to not researching his guests. Guests will often appear on the show and tell stories or express ideas that go unchecked. Those falsehoods, in the end, reach millions of people listening. It’s dangerous when an audience is made up of millions of people, and like Rogan, don’t check the facts. Good interviewers fact check, know who they’re talking to, and know when they’re fed lies. Although Rogan does spend more time than usual fact-checking Alex Jones, that was rare for him.
Every once in awhile Rogan can produce an entertaining show, especially with one of his comedian buddies. An interviewer he is not, though. Dick Cavett, Johnny Carson, occasionally Larry King, and most recently, David Letterman, now those are good interviewers. Those three can let conversations flow naturally, not let lies or questionable comments walk on by, and best of all, produce enlightening and entertaining conversations. Joe Rogan is a podcaster, not an interviewer, which his fans should remember.