Spotify Employees Aren’t Happy About The Joe Rogan Experience

Published on September 17, 2020

It didn’t take long for Joe Rogan to stir up controversy at Spotify. The wildly popular yet polarizing podcast host recently made jokes at the expense of Caitlyn Jenner, which many have labeled transphobic, including Jenner herself. According to a new report, more than a few Spotify employees aren’t happy about it.

What Rogan Said

In the past, Rogan has been criticized many times for his words, especially about the trans community. Only a few months ago, he was taken to task for laughing hysterically at a fellow comedian requesting sex acts in exchange for stage time at a comedy club. Most recently, Rogan made jokes at Jenner’s expense. “People were saying, ‘He was always a woman, he was born a woman,’” he quipped. “Maybe. Or maybe if you live with crazy b—-hes long enough, they f–king turn you into one. Maybe you go crazy.”

The Reaction at Spotify

Back in May, Spotify signed the most popular podcast host around to a major deal worth over $100 million. Yesterday, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek found himself explaining to employees why he wouldn’t remove the transphobic content from their influential platform. Employees expressed their concern and dismay during a meeting, Vice reports. There are now discussions at Spotify how, like Twitter or Facebook, to handle hateful content. “In the case of Joe Rogan, a total of 10 meetings have been held with various groups and individuals to hear their respective concerns,” Ek reportedly said. “And some of them want Rogan removed because of things he’s said in the past.”

Rogan’s Past Remarks 

Following President Donald Trump saying he wants a Joe Rogan-hosted debate, one of the co-hosts of The View, Sunny Hostin, highlighted some of his past remarks. “I think it would be inappropriate for Joe Rogan to host a presidential debate,” Hostin said. “I think given his use of the n-word, I think given his, comparing a Black neighborhood to ‘Planet of the Apes,’ given the fact that he has called a transgender woman a man, I think all of that disqualifies him to be the host of a presidential debate.”

What is Spotify Doing About It?

When the Joe Rogan Experience launched on Spotify, old episodes were removed featuring far-right guests, including Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos. Rogan, in the past, has explained he wants to create an open dialogue with people he disagrees with. During Spotify’s company meeting, questions were fielded about the show, including this question from a staff member: “Many LGBTQAI+/ally Spotifiers feel unwelcome and alienated because of leadership’s response in JRE conversations. What is your message to those employees?” Another employee asked, “Why has Spotify chosen to ignore Spectrum ERG’s guidance about transphobic content in the JRE catalog?”

Spotify wanted to keep these internal discussions under-wraps. The CEO told staff members: “If we can’t have open, confidential debates, we will have to move those discussions to closed doors. Others have concerns specifically over a recent episode [with Abigail Shrier, author of the book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters]…. The fact that we aren’t changing our position doesn’t mean we aren’t listening. It just means we made a different judgment call.”

The Joe Rogan Experience Problem

For years, Rogan was resistant to joining forces with Spotify. Before his big payday, he believed the streaming giant didn’t pay talent fairly. Obviously, the payday changed his mind. As the show host explained, he retains full creative control over the podcast. Spotify, in his words, wants him to keep doing what he’s doing. With the Spotify deal, the comedian and his words will be under a bigger microscope than ever before. Since Rogan fancies himself an edgy comedian, he’ll continue to make more comments and jokes that draw more internal and outside criticism at Spotify.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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