Top podcaster Joe Rogan surprised his audience by having right-wing controversialist Alex Jones back as a guest on his show, prompting outcry online as outraged subscribers said they would cancel their Spotify subscriptions.
Rogan’s Tuesday show turned out to be even more polarizing than usual – and somewhat unexpected given that the podcast’s fans noticed in recent months that some episodes featuring conservative guests curiously never made it onto Spotify, where Rogan has an exclusive deal. Jones himself was previously banned on the platform in 2018, with Spotify citing “hate content” as the reason.
His reappearance on the show seems to have cleared up suspicions that Rogan had succumbed to editorial scrutiny following the missing episodes and his recent retraction after pushing debunked claims that left-wing activists had started wildfires in Oregon.
Tonight on verified twitter they are big mad over Joe Rogan hosting Alex Jones (and in some instances even expressing anti free speech rhetoric as they ask for more deplatforming). Totally well adjusted people. pic.twitter.com/d89PsNlYXO
— Sophia (train conductor) Narwitz (@SophNar0747) October 28, 2020
While neither Spotify nor Rogan confirmed any clash over the podcast, fans appeared somewhat divided about the decision to host Jones: some were afraid of potential political censorship, while others cheered for a safer approach to news content than inviting a guest best-known for promoting various political conspiracy theories.
Some who said they had defended Rogan in the past would not any more as giving a voice to Jones was “unforgivable.”
Joe Rogan platforming Alex Jones to millions of people a week before this election, and letting Jones propagate Joe Biden smears and pro-Trump propaganda has gotta be one of the worst things he has ever done.I’ve defended Rogan for a while, but this is unforgivable.
— KnowNOthing (@KnowN0thing1) October 27, 2020
Yet, many of Rogan’s listeners simply reveled in what they saw as an anti-corporate win for free-speech.
One quipped that they could “hear the sounds of Spotify employees crying over Alex Jones dropping truth bombs on Joe Rogan.”
Spotify staff: “We’ll quit if you do not censor Joe Rogan’s podcast!”Joe Rogan: “Welcome back, Alex Jones!”
— A Sporting Minute (@sportingminute) October 28, 2020
Joe Rogan likes danger and It is clear. Spotify staff cry about his guests so he brings on the ultimate troll: Alex Jones. Right after Kanye. Amazing.
— The Chilli Priest (@TheIblessIShow) October 28, 2020
I can’t hear the sounds of Spotify employees crying over Alex Jones dropping truth bombs on Joe Rogan.
— WigletThePiglet (@WigletP) October 28, 2020
Spotify employees once they realize Joe Rogan just had Alex Jones on pic.twitter.com/HMV0BjCfMt
— An0maly (@LegendaryEnergy) October 27, 2020
Some were so outraged by the episode that they vowed to immediately cancel their Spotify subscriptions.
Cool. I now have to cancel my @Spotify account because they pay for Joe Rogan to have people like Alex Jones on.
— Carl Boobert (@CarlNeubert) October 28, 2020
I’m using MY free speech to immediately cancel my @spotify subscription, because I don’t want to give them any more money. Joe Rogan is garbage, and Alex Jones is worse. These are bad people, lying for money. Money that will never come from me.
— ♦The Shaggy Excuse♦ (@JeffFowler79) October 28, 2020
Others, however, saw the episode as a reason to support Spotify, thinking that the audio-streaming giant allowing Jones on its platform was an anti-censorship move.
I was thinking about cancelling my @Spotify membership cuz i dont use it that much, but if they continue to support @joerogan even after having Alex Jones on, I’ll keep my membership active. Twitter and Facebook can make their own rules .. so can spotify.
— fuLc (@fuLc_) October 28, 2020
Despite the overwhelming social media reaction to the show’s newest episode, both Rogan and Spotify are yet to comment on it – and it remains accessible on the platform. Rogan even seemed to agree during the show to have Jones on again for his US Election Day special.