New York (CNN Business)Spotify CEO Daniel Ek is standing behind and promoting his company’s top podcast host, Joe Rogan, even after Rogan spread anti-vaccine misinformation on-air.
Rogan said in a recent episode of his podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” that healthy young people should not get the Covid vaccine, a statement that stands in contrast to all credible public health advice. When Bloomberg reporter Lucas Shaw asked Ek about those comments on Wednesday, Ek declined to address them directly.
“What I will say is we have 8 million creators, and hundreds of millions of pieces of content,” Ek said. “We have a content policy and we do remove pieces that violate it.”
A Spotify spokesperson declined to comment beyond Ek’s remarks.
Rogan broadcast his anti-vaccine message at a point in the Covid-19 pandemic in which more younger people are getting hospitalized from the virus and remain at risk for spreading it.
“Joe Rogan is wrong. I’m hoping he was just trolling for new subscribers, but he has a pretty big platform and that’s really destructive,” CNN media analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner said on “New Day” Wednesday. “The young are the reservoirs of this virus in our community. They are really powering the spread so the only way to put this virus down once and for all is to immunize.”
Spotify says it has 8 million creators, but the company continues to single out and champion Rogan, a major name in podcasting who it signed to a licensing deal last May. On its first-quarter earnings report released Wednesday, Spotify name-dropped Rogan twice. The report said Rogan’s podcast was helping Spotify grow its ad-supported business and that the podcast had performed above the company’s expectations for adding new users and engagement.
On Spotify’s earnings call Wednesday, Chief Financial Officer Paul Vogel cited Rogan for contributing to the platform’s strong podcast consumption last December. That was the same month Rogan’s podcast became exclusive to Spotify. He mentioned Rogan again when asked about podcast advertising.
This is far from the first time Rogan has spurred controversy since joining up with Spotify. In September, Rogan apologized for spreading misinformation about fires then burning on the West Coast.
Rogan’s recent controversial remarks were from his April 23 episode with comedian Dave Smith. Rogan said in the episode that both his children had Covid-19 with minor symptoms.
“I hate to say that if someone’s children died from this. I’m very sorry that that happened. I’m not in any way diminishing that,” Rogan said. “But I’m saying the personal experience that my children had with Covid was nothing.”
Spotify has taken action against other misleading content about Covid-19 including a podcast and a song earlier this year.
A Spotify spokesperson said at the time, “Spotify prohibits content on the platform which promotes dangerous false, deceptive, or misleading content about COVID-19 that may cause offline harm and/or pose a direct threat to public health.”
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