Late last week, we first reported that Spotify employees were demanding direct editorial oversight over the recently-acquired Joe Rogan Experience podcast. That would include the ability to directly edit or remove sections of upcoming interviews, or block the uploading of episodes deemed problematic. The employees also demanded the ability to add trigger warnings, corrections, and references to fact-checked articles on topics discussed by Rogan in the course of his multi-hour discussions.
Some of the group’s demands have already been met by Spotify management, though a refusal to allow further changes is stirring talk of a high-profile walkout or strike. According to preliminary plans shared with Digital Music News, the strike would principally involve New York-based Spotify employees, and would be accompanied by protests outside Spotify’s Manhattan headquarters. Other aspects would involve media appearances and coordination with other activist organizations.
For Spotify, the decision to offer some concessions may have only emboldened demands for wide-scale editorial oversight.
During the transition of Rogan’s podcast episodes onto the Spotify platform, multiple past episodes were omitted. Those included interviews with Milo Yiannopoulos, Gavin McInnes, and Alex Jones. Additionally, Rogan issued a rare public apology and correction over his claim that left-wing anarchists had set fires in Oregon, a point that was made during a recent interview with Douglas Murray. The apology is now believed to be the result of pressure from Spotify staffers.
But those measures apparently don’t go far enough. Rogan’s claim during the Murray podcast is still part of the podcast recording, despite demands that the offending section be removed or directly corrected within the audio itself. It now appears that Spotify is unwilling to directly edit or otherwise alter any existing episodes, with content alteration considered a bright line that shouldn’t be crossed.
Tim Kennedy tweeted that the challenge was made by Rogan during an appearance on his podcast.
“On my podcast with @joerogan he offered to moderate a debate between @JoeBiden and @realDonaldTrump It would be four hours with no live audience,” tweeted Kennedy.
“Just the two candidates, cameras, and their vision of how to move this country forward. Who wants this? #debates #Election2020.”
“I do!” responded Trump.
The prospect of Joe Biden being able to withstand a 4 hour debate will be interesting given the myriad of questions surrounding his mental faculties and his inability to avoid verbal slips ups even during short news interviews.
Joe Rogan debuted Monday night on Spotify. For two reasons, the licensing deal has dominated the media discussion: 1) it is worth $100 million; and 2) his wide-ranging listeners feared the deal would change the show.
Yesterday, the second fear proved well-founded. Spotify uploaded Rogan’s archive with past episodes but noticeably left off some of the most newsworthy: the appearances from Alex Jones.
Jones is wild, dangerously unpredictable, and the poster child of tech de-platforming. Which is why he’s so important to Rogan’s legacy. Personalities like Jones are what made Rogan’s podcast distinctive.
The Joe Rogan Experience welcomed everyone. And allowed them to think and say anything. From comedians to fighters, from pundits to entrepreneurs, from independent thinkers to conspiracy theorists. If JRE has an identity, it is that all conversations are permitted. — no holds barred.
Today, Rogan’s listeners are disappointed and vindicated. Just search “Rogan, Alex Jones” on Twitter.
The Feb. 27, 2019 episode with Jones has over 22 million YouTube views.
Jones wasn’t the only guest Spotify deleted. Newsweek pointed out the list is rather large. Milo Yiannopoulos, CensoredTV’s Gavin McInnes, Chris D’Elia, Jordan Peterson’s daughter, Mikhaila Peterson, Louis Theroux, Owen Benjamin, and Joey Diaz were also left out.
It’s unknown if Rogan signed off on this. Rogan, more than anyone else, has fought back against cancel culture and suppression of free speech. Rogan has yet to comment on the missing episodes.