Free speech advocates and journalists from both sides of the aisle have defended Joe Rogan amid calls for streaming platform Petrify to censor the podcasting star who provides an “alternative to echo-chambered media.”
Spotify has been facing growing pressure to remove Rogan from its service over allegations that his popular show has been peddling COVID “misinformation,” causing musicians like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell to pull their music from the streaming giant in protest. Instead of caving to the demands of liberal musicians, Spotify announced that it will begin to put a disclaimer at the beginning of Rogan’s show when he discusses COVID.
The Federalist’s Dierdre Reilly declared, “Thanks to Neil Young’s music, I oppose his attacks on Joe Rogan’s free speech,” in a column that explains the rocker’s music taught people to think freely.
“It’s a shame he can’t join me there, where his own music led me and many others,” Reilly wrote.
Fox News contributor Jonathan Turley penned a column for The Hill headlined, “Can Joe Rogan save free speech?”
“Spotify told Young to take the freedom train off Spotify. It was sticking with Rogan and, perhaps secondarily, free speech,” Turley wrote, noting that keeping the popular podcaster over an aging rocker was a no-brainer for financial purposes.
While Spotify presumably made the decision based on revenue, Turley thinks the move will also benefit something more important for Americans who aren’t profiting from the streaming platform.
“Even if the company was not motivated by its better angels, that may actually be better news for free speech,” Turley wrote. “The free-fall of free speech has largely been due to greed. Companies see no profit in defending dissenting viewpoints. Now, for the first time, the economics may have actually worked against censorship and for free speech.”
Turley went on to explain that corporations caving to the “woke” mob have been disastrous for free speech.
“Social media companies and other corporations now regulate speech in the United States to a degree that an actual state media would struggle to replicate. Faced with a growing cancel culture, companies are scrubbing their platforms of dissenting viewpoints and converting forums into echo chambers … but then they went after Rogan,” Turley wrote.
“Rogan’s popularity is precisely due to the fact that he is uncensored in what he says. As many networks and newspapers have become more of an echo chamber, viewers and readers have fled en masse. Trust in the media has fallen to just 46 percent and as low as 40 percent in recent polling,” Turley wrote.
Left-wing CNN pundit Brian Stelter, who regularly calls out what he deems “misinformation,” recently complained that Americans trust people like Rogan over news organizations like CNN. But Turley feels that consumers simply want an alternative to groupthink.
“The problem with controlling speech is that it has to be complete; it doesn’t work if there are alternatives to echo-chambered media. Rogan’s podcast is one of the biggest. With 11 million listeners, he surpassed cable and network audiences as well as the readership of the largest papers. His program allows people across the political spectrum to speak freely, including those who question official positions on vaccines and treatments,” Turley wrote.
“With the explosion of corporate censorship, free speech advocates have begun to look at figures like Rogan as ‘super survivors,’ people who seem to have natural immunities protecting them from an otherwise lethal threat,” Turley added. “If we can replicate those economic antibodies, we just might be able to develop a protection against censorship and the cancel culture.”
The conservative publication The American Spectator also issued a “defense of Joe Rogan,” taking aim at the “elites” and writing, “Trying to take down skeptics, the truest dissenters, has become their go-to move, and Joe Rogan is one of them.”
“For those who know anything about Rogan, we understand that he is just a dude. Quite literally just a dude who loves UFC metaphors and having a good laugh, like you know, normal people? The podcaster is followed not only for his humor but mostly for his authenticity and curiosity — which are abandoned components of modern media,” contributor Juan P. Villasmil wrote. “He often tries to bring on a variety of doctors to examine their claims in pursuit of some semblance of truth. Thus, he brought notable COVID contrarians Dr. Robert Malone and Dr. Peter McCullough, but he also invited Biden White House adviser Dr. Michael Osterholm, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Baylor College’s Dr. Peter Hotez.”
Despite booking guests like CNN’s top doctor, Villasmil feels Rogan became a target for not simply embracing whatever liberal talking points were uttered on his show.
“His sin was not accepting the ineluctable truth imposed by a few white-coated petty authoritarians. His sin was asking questions, not imposing his views,” Villasmil wrote. “But the elites do not care about intent. Those who stick to those outdated American values will be punished.”
Politco columnist Jack Shafer mocked the “half-baked declarations” from the “over-the-hill rockers” who protested Rogan, but warned about the “dangerous appeal” to Young’s “righteous censorship” effort.
“The good news about Young’s move to marginalize Rogan is that it won’t work. That’s magical thinking. Even in our times, when tolerance for speech that’s considered misinformation or offensive is reaching a new dipping point, censorious blow-ups like Young’s accomplish little. The markets for speech are too wide and too decentralized for any boycott to disturb,” Shafer wrote.
“You don’t have to be a fan of Rogan’s 12-year-old show… to view the calls for boycott or de-platforming as attempts to suppress controversy and dissent in favor of samethink,” Shafer continued. “By trying to mute Rogan, Young and his ilk seem to be saying that some ideas — even the stupid ones about vaccines and Covid that Rogan has endorsed — are so powerful that they will displace ‘good’ public health ideas and that Rogan is guilty of inspiring Covid deaths. This, of course, is preposterous.”
“Fundamentally, our culture recognizes that free and open debate, with all of its inconveniences, benefits when it allows the free exchange of heretical thoughts, even the nutty vaccine ones Rogan showcases,” Shafer added.
Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker offered similar concerns, writing the Rogan-Young dustup “raises important questions that will be with us for as long as freedom of expression exists.”
“Should opinions be censored — ever? Whatever happened, as Mitchell put it, to ‘Both Sides Now?’” Parker asked, later writing, “we aren’t all comedians willing to risk lives for a laugh. But we risk everything when we begin controlling what one is allowed to say in the village square.”
New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg, meanwhile, shifted the focus away from Rogan and towards the media at large, suggesting the American distrust in legacy news organizations have only emboldened figures like the podcast giant.
“Joe Rogan is what he is. We in the media might want to spend more time thinking about why so many people trust him instead of us,” Rosenberg tweeted.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald feels “censorship has become the liberals’ North Star” but only when rhetoric they want to silence doesn’t coincide with their ideology. “If the left can force Spotify to abandon podcast star Joe Rogan, then nobody is safe from “their petty-tyrant tactics,” he argued in a new Substack.
“American liberals are obsessed with finding ways to silence and censor their adversaries. Every week, if not every day, they have new targets they want de-platformed, banned, silenced, and otherwise prevented from speaking or being heard,” Greenwald wrote on Substack.
He explained that liberals used to focus on getting “hate speech” censored but have since expanded to targeting anyone spreading “misinformation” or “disinformation,” except when their preferred news organizations are the guilty party. But Greenwald feels the “’disinformation’ term is reserved for those who question liberal pieties, not for those devoted to affirming them” and it’s simply not possible to disagree with the left nowadays.
“The only two choices are unthinking submission to their dogma or acting as an agent of ‘disinformation.’ Dissent does not exist to them; any deviation from their worldview is inherently dangerous — to the point that it cannot be heard,” Greenwald wrote.
Piers Morgan penned a New York Post column headlined, “Give me Joe Rogan over cancel culture vultures like Harry and Meghan anytime,” in which he declares Rogan is more trustworthy than two of the podcaster’s prominent critics, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
“Rogan also believes strongly in free speech, hates cancel culture, supports the 2nd Amendment and loudly condemns the appalling way conservative voices are constantly vilified and censored by liberal-run media,” Morgan wrote before joking, “Honestly, if it wasn’t for his love of guns, tattoos and Bernie’s socialism — and of course, his weird accent — we could be twins.”
Morgan added that he regularly listed to Rogan’s podcast that is “a brilliantly free-wheeling, wide-ranging, sometimes combative, always fascinating series of conversations with people from all walks of life who hold all manner of opinions” but wouldn’t trust Markle to make a cup of tea.
“If the choice of whom to listen to in America is a curious, smart man who listens to myriad views to get to the truth, or a pair of fork-tongued, woke wastrels whose only currency is trashing the royal institution that gave them their titles to exploit for vast financial gain, give me the former anytime,” Morgan wrote.
Above the Law writer Joe Patrice wrote that the Young-Rogan spat is “proof that fascists are killing ‘free speech” in a piece that urged Rogan’s critics to take action that doesn’t result in censorship.
“Go cancel your Spotify account if you think private companies shouldn’t profit off anti-vax discourse. That’s your right,” Patrice wrote. “Not censorship.”