The White House Speaks Out On The Joe Rogan Spotify Controversy

The Spotify streaming platform has found itself under fire in recent weeks for its popular podcast, "The Joe Rogan Experience." The comedian has been accused of spreading disinformation surrounding COVID-19; for instance, he has promoted ivermectin as an effective treatment for the virus, and interviewed a virologist who claimed that people who have had COVID-19 are at greater risk for serious side effects from the vaccine (via BBC). His controversial views led musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell to pull their music from Spotify; shortly afterward, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle called on the platform to stop enabling disinformation (via TMZ).

Spotify's CEO finally responded to the outcry by issuing a statement saying in part, "We are working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19." The advisory would include a link to their website's COVID hub, which links to podcasts offering information and news about the disease.

Rogan himself shared his thoughts on the outcry through an Instagram post on January 31. Defending his choice of the medical professionals he interviewed whose "opinion is different from the mainstream narrative," Rogan went on to say that he agreed with Spotify's decision to include disclaimers before episodes that contain information about topics like COVID-19. "If there's anything I've done that I could do better," he added, "is have more experts with differing opinions right after I have the controversial ones."

Now the White House is weighing in on the Spotify controversy. The Biden administration's message to the media: Do better. 

Twitter has mixed reactions to Jen Psaki's Spotify comments

At the daily White House press briefing on February 1, Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked to weigh in on Spotify's compromise. She said that it was "a positive step, but there is more that can be done," (via The Hollywood Reporter). She added that the administration is calling on every platform to not only identify inaccurate COVID-19 information, but also to do its part to share the facts. 

"Our hope is that all major tech platforms, and all major news sources for that matter, be responsible and be vigilant to ensure the American people have access to accurate information on something as significant as COVID-19," Psaki said. "That certainly includes Spotify."

As Psaki's statement hit social media, critics were quick to offer opinions of their own. Said one, "Here's a thought for @PressSec: How about if our leaders and the media do a better job with keeping us respectfully, sufficiently, and accurately informed so 'misinformation' has less power. Think that could work?" Another commenter denounced the musicians' reaction: "Anyone that thinks the answer to misinformation is censorship better not mind revealing themselves as either an idiot or a tyrant." Others poked fun at Psaki for mispronouncing the streaming platform as "Spotifly."

At least one person is boycotting Rogan's show with or without disclaimers. They posted a past clip of Rogan making offensive jokes about seeing "Planet of the Apes" in a theater in a primarily Black neighborhood. "Forget covid misinformation for a second," they said. "I [choose] to not be a part of any platform that pays to promote such vile racist content."