Right here I’m. Again once more in your inbox on a Tuesday, within the last weeks earlier than Christmas, New 12 months’s, and, for you enterprise of us, the tip of the quarter. For right now’s Scorching Pod, I interviewed the Media Issues researcher who listened to over 350 hours of The Joe Rogan Expertise this yr and reported again on what we’re all lacking. He says the present, for these of us who aren’t spending our time there, is at the moment greatest described as a “cesspool of toxic masculinity that discusses elk hunting, mixed martial arts, anti-trans views, and harmful health information about the coronavirus pandemic.”
We’ll additionally focus on separate — however, in some instances, associated — Spotify conditions and extra “greenwashing” in podcast advertisements. Extra, extra, extra, simply in time for the season of giving. Let’s get to it.
EXCLUSIVE: Meet the reporter devoted to cataloging Joe Rogan’s bonkers claims
As you all effectively know, Joe Rogan is the most well-liked podcaster within the US and, probably, the world. He made his identify interviewing main friends and for his off-the-cuff, at occasions controversial, takes on the world. Spotify reportedly paid him $100 million to convey his present to the platform solely, which resulted in it distributing a preferred however contentious program. The platform retains getting flack over what its star podcaster says, largely as a result of it’s spending a lot cash to maintain him there and particularly courted this.
Many people who know this context may be curious to listen to what Rogan is absolutely as much as on his podcast, solely to then see his episodes can span hours and put up a number of occasions per week. So enter Alex Paterson, a researcher at Media Issues whose beat as of the previous yr or so has included listening to Rogan and reporting again on the whole lot he’s listening to. That work culminated in a narrative final week referred to as: Joe Rogan Wrapped: A year of COVID-19 misinformation, right-wing myths, and anti-trans rhetoric.
I caught up with Paterson the day after the story ran and chatted with him to get a greater sense of what he’s seeing. He tells me he listens to the episodes as quickly as they arrive out, on 2X velocity, to catch the whole lot Rogan says. How are all these hours of Rogan listening going? Does Spotify appear to have taken any motion?
This interview has been edited and condensed for readability and size.
Hello, Alex. Thanks for taking the time to speak. My first, apparent query: why are you so curious about Joe Rogan particularly?
Alex Paterson, researcher at Media Issues: I began recurrently monitoring Joe Rogan’s podcast starting final yr in 2020 when he had Abigail Shrier on to push anti-trans rhetoric. She’s an anti-trans journalist who used to work at The Wall Road Journal, and through that podcast, they in contrast being trans to becoming a member of a cult or chopping your self by means of self-harm. After that, figuring out that Joe Rogan’s podcast is likely one of the hottest — if not the hottest — podcasts on this planet, I wished to trace the rhetoric he’s pushing on his present to assist doc how dangerous it’s to our society at massive. Notably on this new yr, and because the pandemic has begun, Rogan has taken a transparent lurch to the fitting and grow to be a serial misinformer in relation to COVID-19 misinformation, and we’ve been attempting to doc and restrict the harms that he’s attempting to push into the world.
You mentioned you’ve been monitoring him since 2020. How have you ever seen Rogan’s rhetoric change in that point?
I imagine he’s grow to be extra emboldened to push baseless conspiracy theories and right-wing lies over the previous yr. Since I began reporting on Rogan’s podcast, he’s damaged into mainstream protection pretty typically: first, along with his lie about left-wing individuals beginning wildfires in Oregon, after which once more actually prominently, [saying] he would encourage wholesome, younger individuals to not get vaccinated. And all through all of that reporting, at the least from my view, he hasn’t confronted any actual punishment from Spotify. And I feel that’s emboldened him to proceed pushing hate and lies on his podcast. Simply from listening to him on daily basis, he’s on no account remitting conspiracy theories and false rhetoric on his present. If something, he’s leaning into it extra. He’s celebrated in conservative areas for it. He’s a darling of the conservative proper in america.
I do know you and Media Issues extra broadly cowl the broader world of the fitting, so locations like Fox and OAN. Do you see any parallels between that world and Rogan’s?
Yeah, I fully see it as associated. Rogan is somebody who celebrates himself as being a so-called impartial thinker who has each conservative and progressive values, and I feel that completely illustrates our normal media panorama’s bend in direction of right-wing views and over accommodating ring-wing views and never difficult right-wing misinformation. So I feel he performs a fairly central position in that panorama, and he’s additionally deeply related to the community of conservative media. He hosts Ben Shapiro. He hosts Alex Jones. He’s an enormous supporter of Tucker Carlson, who we all know is Fox Information’ hate-mongerer-in-chief. I feel he performs a central position within the right-wing misinformation system.
A lot of us within the podcast world are curious about how Spotify treats Rogan. Have you ever gotten any sense that it’s taking motion to average his content material?
Rogan has acknowledged quite a few occasions that Spotify has by no means spoken to him in regards to the hate that he pushes on his podcast or taken any steps to attempt to curt him from doing so. You’re listening to it from his mouth, after which once we take a look at Spotify’s year-end abstract for his or her Wrapped, he’s the star of their podcasting, which is an empire Spotify may be very clearly attempting to develop. On YouTube, which I might say has stronger enforcement round COVID misinformation, although it’s removed from nice, his present would typically be demonetized and sometimes eliminated. I feel he views Spotify as a spot the place he might unfold his particular form of bigotry and vile with none actual penalties.
Have you ever seen any particular moments the place you suppose YouTube would have moderated his content material, however Spotify doesn’t?
Oh, yeah, completely. We do loads of work at Media Issues round tech accountability and phrases of service, and customarily, I might say social media firms are failing to control right-wing extremism on the web. And Spotify has a number of the least, virtually non-existent, phrases of service to guard customers and most of the people from hatred and focused violence. Joe Rogan has misgendered and denigrated trans youth on his podcast and by no means confronted any penalties. We’ve got seen YouTube take some steps to take away content material that’s just like that, and YouTube has a coverage towards selling COVID-19 misinformation. That’s grow to be the central core of Rogan’s podcast, and Spotify, together with CEO Daniel Ek, has refused to take any motion towards Joe Rogan.
You don’t depend on transcripts to watch the present, and I’m wanting barely forward, however I do marvel how a lot that speaks to the broader points platforms may need moderating exhibits. Transcripts don’t catch the whole lot, particularly with speech nuances. So I’m wondering should you or the crew have proposed options to assist platforms remedy these points?
The very first thing that involves thoughts after I consider Spotify and Joe Rogan and moderation, like how we might average extremism on-line, is that Spotify isn’t even at that desk. That might seem like one thing they aren’t even contemplating with Joe Rogan. So to think about a world by which Spotify may monitor his transcript is so removed from actuality that we’re simply asking them to, at a really baseline, cease their most distinguished podcast host from rising vaccine hesitancy and harming our nation’s public response to the pandemic total. Joe Rogan has proven actually clearly that he’ll use his podcast to unfold conspiracy theories, right-wing lies, [and] racist rhetoric with the intention to kind of promote himself. And sure, Spotify, their CEO, and their comms crew has gone on the file time and time once more saying that he hasn’t violated their phrases. At this level, it’s like, what wouldn’t it take?
Effectively, I recognize you doing this work and taking the time. Is there the rest you suppose individuals ought to learn about Rogan that they may not be contemplating?
One factor we’ve carried out at Media Issues is attempt to doc how social media algorithms and far-right on-line communities can radicalize on a regular basis individuals pretty simply. I feel Rogan is an effective instance of that. Let’s say you’re a younger man listening to The Joe Rogan Expertise, and also you wish to get recommendations on bodybuilding or easy methods to eat healthfully, after which Rogan begins discussing that vaccines are a type of gene remedy with Ben Shapiro, after which maybe you go to Ben Shapiro’s web site, The Each day Wire, and there, you fall right into a cesspool of hatred and bigotry, and when you click on on a Each day Wire article, should you share it on Fb, you’re simply going to be led additional and additional down the far-right rabbit gap. That may take somebody from being an on a regular basis particular person [to] immediately being fed information and misinformation about QAnon and different right-wing lies. I feel it’s essential to needless to say Joe Rogan spreading this misinformation has real-world penalties that may have actually dire results for marginalized individuals.
For what it’s price, I reported on Rogan telling younger adults to not get vaccinated and identified that Spotify had particularly eliminated music and podcasts that claimed vaccines not solely kill individuals but additionally have microchips in them. (Each of which aren’t true.) On the time, Spotify mentioned it “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.” I’d encourage you to take a look at Paterson’s story for a greater sense of what Rogan is saying and resolve for your self whether or not it falls inside these bounds.
And should you’re questioning how influential Rogan actually is, take a peek at this story, which discusses “Dr. Joe Rogan’s” affect on varied individuals’s COVID therapy plans, specifically UFC president Dana White and his household.
I reached out to Spotify to see if the crew wished to touch upon the above interview. A spokesperson, who requested to stay nameless due to the “sensitivity of the subject matter,” despatched the identical remark as above again however with this tacked onto the tip: “When content is flagged for possible violations of our policies, it is thoroughly reviewed by our in-house team and outside experts, if necessary. If that content is found to be in violation of our policies, the appropriate enforcement action is taken.”
In the meantime, in separate Spotify moderation information…
Racist, antisemitic, hateful podcasts dwell on Spotify and Google Podcasts
Sky Information published an investigation on Friday into extremist podcasts and located “several days’ worth” of content material selling “extreme views such as scientific racism, Holocaust denial and far-right antisemitic conspiracy theories.” Reporter Victoria Elms says specific slurs could be heard, in addition to direct calls to violence towards Jewish individuals. She additionally notes that these podcasters are utilizing the episode description field to advertise hateful movies hosted on different platforms, together with one about “Dylann Roof’s insightful manifesto.” Spotify eliminated the content material after Sky Information’ reachout, however they continue to be dwell on Google Podcasts. Pertinent to us is Elms’ word in regards to the black field that’s these platforms’ moderation efforts. I wrote about this in February — significantly how tough it will likely be to catch and take down infringing content material — and proceed to consider how dire this may grow to be when each platform contains an audio element, the function du jour.
I hate to maintain hammering y’all with unhealthy Spotify issues, however we’re going to maintain going. It’s the winter vitality, I assume.
Spotify takes down comedians’ albums over royalty dispute
That is tangential for us however fascinating, because it pertains to spoken phrase content material. Spotify has removed “hundreds of comedians’” work from its platform over a brand new royalties battle. Summed up as merely as I can: comedians are compensated as performers by means of their label or distributor, however they wish to now additionally obtain writing credit, or what international rights administration firm Spoken Giants calls their literary rights. (This parallels the royalties within the music business — a songwriting credit score pays totally different royalties, which could be extra profitable. I like to recommend listening to or studying my boss’s podcast, Decoder, with Charlie Harding of Switched on Pop for extra on how this works in music land.)
Spoken Giants is main the cost right here, attempting to barter for these comics to obtain the writing credit and subsequent royalty payouts, however the comics are within the lurch proper now, unable to have their content material streamed in any respect on one of many world’s largest platforms. The Wall Road Journal notes that Spoken Giants “started by representing writers of comedy bits and jokes, with plans to expand across podcasts, speeches and lectures.” The podcast writing credit score royalty system, might it occur?
Now, let’s shut the loop on the ExxonMobil Each day advert, for now at the least…
Podcast advertisements make up oil firms’ “greenwashing” technique
A number of weeks in the past, I lined the debacle over an ExxonMobil advert that appeared on The Each day. The advert, local weather change reporter Emily Atkin wrote, was deceptive and never wholly indicative of what Exxon is definitely doing.
Yesterday, Drilled podcast host and journalist Amy Westervelt published a bigger piece on the rising development of oil firms’ advertisements displaying up in podcasts. She writes that podcast publishers must “develop their own guidelines and fact-checking processes” across the climate-friendly claims they make as a result of the Federal Commerce Fee largely solely cares about claims round merchandise, which the oil firms don’t promote. The piece culminates within the concluding thought, “What’s in place now for identifying misinformation in ads is not really a framework for identifying greenwashing,” says John Prepare dinner, analysis fellow on the Local weather Change Communication Analysis Hub. So even when the Occasions and others implement fact-checking for advertisements, which they are saying they already do, squishy language from oil firms might move that take a look at and seemingly already has.
Broadly, all of right now’s tales add as much as an even bigger dialog across the new world that podcasting inhabits. The business’s receiving extra consideration than ever earlier than from retailers like Scorching Pod and The Verge but additionally larger publications who spot unusual and unhealthy issues occurring. The business’s rising and now faces the identical issues large social platforms, like Fb and YouTube, deal with recurrently. Prepare dinner, from Westervelt’s story, advises Fb on local weather disinformation, simply so you may get a way of how a lot experience is required on the platforms. The expectations are increased for podcasts, and this rigidity between stepping up and assembly them versus punting till podcasting has extra assets will solely proceed transferring ahead.
I really like a lil year-end tease. In order for you extra audio and podcasting business evaluation, you possibly can subscribe for 2 extra points here. In any other case, I’ll catch you subsequent week.