Spotify's CEO is defending not "silencing" podcast host Joe Rogan amid backlash to his past use of racial slurs.
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek in an employee memo said the platform has "had conversations" with Rogan about his "history of using some racially insensitive language," which prompted him to remove a number of past episodes, per The Hollywood Reporter. More than 100 episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience were recently deleted from Spotify after a video compilation showed Rogan using the N-word numerous times.
The controversy over Rogan's use of racial slurs came on top of the backlash to COVID-19 misinformation spread on his podcast, which prompted artists like Neil Young to pull their music. But Ek once again defended working with Rogan.
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"While I strongly condemn what Joe has said and I agree with his decision to remove past episodes from our platform, I realize some will want more," Ek said. "And I want to make one point very clear — I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer. We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but canceling voices is a slippery slope."
Rogan over the weekend offered his "sincere, deepest apologies" for using the N-word and for comparing a Black neighborhood to Planet of the Apes.
"I know that to most people, there's no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word, nevermind publicly on a podcast, and I agree with that now," Rogan said. "I haven't said it in years. But for a long time, when I would bring that word up, like if it would come up in conversations, instead of saying 'the N-word,' I would just say the word."
Ek in a meeting with employees previously defended working with Rogan despite finding "many things" he says to be "very offensive." But The Verge reported that "for some employees," his "sentiments rang hollow."
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