Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Defends Keeping Transphobic Joe Rogan Podcasts Online
In the wake of Joe Rogan’s controversial comments about Caitlyn Jenner, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has defended keeping his transphobic podcasts online.
During September 11’s Joe Rogan Experience episode featuring retired martial arts fighter Tim Kennedy, the host continually deadnamed and misgendered Caitlyn, even suggesting she transitioned because of her family of ‘crazy b*tches’.
Caitlyn has since responded, calling him a ‘homophobic, transphobic ass’. It’s not the first time Rogan has attracted the ire of the LGBTQ+ community, often humouring his guests no matter their problematic views – however, the streaming platform has no intentions of removing episodes associated with such complaints.
Earlier this year, Rogan signed an exclusive licensing deal – estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars – with Spotify to distribute his podcast. While the host earlier insisted that the company has no creative control over JRE, its content moderation saw certain episodes removed that featured right-wing figures including Alex Jones and Gavin McInnes, citing its ‘hate content’.
Via undisclosed sources, Vice obtained questions and notes from a Spotify company meeting held yesterday, September 16, in which CEO Daniel Ek defended transphobic episodes remaining on the platform. Ek had warned employees not to speak to the media, urging, ‘If we can’t have open, confidential debates, we will have to move those discussions to closed doors.’
Two questions put forward concerning JRE were, ‘Many LGBTQAI+/ally Spotifiers feel unwelcome and alienated because of leadership’s response in JRE conversations. What is your message to those employees?’ and, referencing an internal company group set up to deal with representation issues, ‘Why has Spotify chosen to ignore Spectrum ERG’s guidance about transphobic content in the JRE catalog?’
Ek reportedly said:
In the case of Joe Rogan, a total of 10 meetings have been held with various groups and individuals to hear their respective concerns. And some of them want Rogan removed because of things he’s said in the past.
Others have concerns specifically over a recent episode. And Joe Rogan and the episode in question have been reviewed extensively. The fact that we aren’t changing our position doesn’t mean we aren’t listening. It just means we made a different judgement call.
Back in July, Rogan interviewed Abigail Shrier, author of the book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. While Shier spouted her transphobic agenda, Rogan posited that young people are pressured into transitioning due to social media and YouTube.
You can watch Rogan’s interview with Shier below:
He said, ‘You realise that people are not looking at this objectively. They are activists and they have this agenda, and the agenda is very ideologically driven that anybody who even thinks they might be trans should be trans, are trans, and the more trans people the better.’
In a statement supplied to the outlet, a Spotify spokesperson said, ‘At Spotify, we are strongly committed to the LGBTQ+ community and diversity in all of its forms. All employees are respected and we believe that everyone has a right to be heard.’
They added, ‘We have a number of forums for open and transparent discussion and we encourage rigorous debate on topics across the company. All content on Spotify is subject to our long-standing content guidelines. Our diverse team of experts reviewed the content in question and determined that it did not meet the criteria for removal from our platform.’
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]
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