Joe Rogan’s podcast has only been available on Spotify since September, and already, the host is inviting controversial guests to appear. This week, he chatted with Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones as well as comedian Tim Dillon. The episode’s audio and video are available both on Spotify and YouTube, and this comes after Spotify employees expressed concern over Rogan’s prior episodes and transphobic content.
During this most recent interview, Dillon wore a shirt that says “Free Ghislaine,” in reference to Ghislaine Maxwell, an associate of Jeffrey Epstein who was charged in July with helping Epstein recruit and groom girls to sexually abuse. Dillon claims during the three-plus-hour show that Democrats want to use COVID-19 and possible local shutdowns to prevent people from “private ownership of cars” and “cash.”
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Jones, who previously claimed that Sandy Hook was a hoax, also said that “a lot of studies show” that masks won’t protect people in large groups from getting COVID. (The CDC recommends people wear a mask “anywhere they will be around other people.”)
At another point, Jones exaggerates an incident in which an oral vaccine caused polio in recipients. Jones says the vaccine caused 100 percent of recipients to get sick after taking it, before Rogan pulls up an AP article that details the cases of two children who were paralyzed after receiving the vaccine. Dillon and Jones also claim that the Democrats are intentionally trying to keep the US economy down in order to get Trump out of office.
Although Rogan attempts to fact-check Jones live by asking for his sources and then attempting to search and pull up links during the recording, it doesn’t take away from the fact that he is giving Jones a place to share his views. Infowars has been banned from most major tech platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Spotify itself also removed Jones’ own podcast from its platform in 2018. (Episodes featuring Jones on other podcasts do exist on Spotify.)
Spotify signed an exclusive deal with Rogan earlier this year that brought the show to its platform — it had never been available up until that point. The show arrived on Spotify on September 1st and is planned to become an exclusive at some point soon. The company hasn’t provided an exact date. In return for the deal, Spotify stressed that Rogan retains creative control over his show.
Still, prior Rogan episodes that featured Jones aren’t available on Spotify currently, and the company hasn’t commented on why that is. Spotify declined to comment for this story, but an internal email obtained by BuzzFeed News details the strategy Spotify team managers have been directed to take when considering a response to Rogan’s show.
“Spotify has always been a place for creative expressions,” the email said. “It’s important to have diverse voices and points of view on our platform.” The email also say Spotify “won’t ban specific individuals from being guests on other people’s shows, as the episode/show complies with our content policies.”
Update 10/28, 1:17PM ET: Updated to include BuzzFeed News’ reporting about a leaked email memo about Spotify’s Joe Rogan talking points.