HomeArts & EntertainmentArtAndrew Yang Is Just What the Joe Rogan Spotify Saga Didn't Need

Andrew Yang Is Just What the Joe Rogan Spotify Saga Didn’t Need

Late on Sunday night, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek confirmed that the service wiped several archival episodes of its flagship podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, at the request of its host, Joe Rogan, who had been recorded on said show saying the N-word multiple times in many different contexts

It’s unclear how many episodes were removed at Rogan’s request and how many were deleted for other reasons. In total, 103 episodes of the podcast’s archives are no longer available on Spotify. Rogan himself apologized for his use of the racial slur, but it wasn’t enough to close the book on this nasty and exhaustingly predictable episode.

That’s right, Andrew Yang had to jump in. 

“I don’t think Joe Rogan is a racist — the man interacts with and works with black people literally all of the time,” Yang tweeted on Sunday. “Do I know black friends of Joe’s who would swear by him? Yes I do.”

As we all know, there’s nothing that screams “not a racist” like “interacting with black people.” It’s a defense that has often been used by Trump’s allies to claim the former president isn’t racist. The tweet is a typical Yangism — tone deaf, credulous, but broadly appealing to people who don’t want to do any critical thinking about a subject. Yang deleted the tweet shortly after it was posted. In a follow-up that’s still online, he elaborated on his defense of Rogan. 

Yang’s best point came in a subsequent tweet, when he said that racism was “real, deep, corrosive and even lethal.” There’s not necessarily a simple answer to the larger question here: “Is Joe Rogan racist?” Sure, we have Rogan on camera using racial slurs, as well as other things that seem to have racist intent, like his joke about “Planet of the Apes.” (Rogan once compared getting out of a cab in a Black neighborhood of Philadelphia to entering “Africa” or like being in “Planet of the Apes,” the movie he says he was going to see that night.)

Rogan’s apology for his behavior on earlier episodes of the show came in an Instagram video posted over the weekend. He explained the context around his use of the N-word, and made it clear, it seems, that he at least grasps what he did wrong. Rogan has always existed in an intellectual safe space that deems it important to give people the freedom to explore, and laugh about, racist impulses and stereotypes.

This doesn’t necessarily mean Rogan is racist, as Yang’s tweet implies. But it also doesn’t exonerate racist behavior, especially as Spotify has repeatedly made it clear that they think Rogan’s opinions, and audience, are worth more money than basically any other podcast in the industry — no matter what PR setbacks that might befall his archives.

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