Rogan signed a mega-deal with Spotify earlier this year, which made the streaming giant the official home of The Joe Rogan Experience, which often finds itself atop ther podcast charts. But according to Vice, employees at the company have taken issue with certain episodes of the podcast that many have deemed transphobic.
Just this past week, Rogan told a story about an old joke of his in which he deadnamed Caitlyn Jenner and referred to her by the wrong pronouns. As TMZ reports, Jenner herself said Rogan's comments were harmful and offensive. "He's a homophobic, transphobic ass," Jenner said. "I've been gender disphoric my entire life."
Spotify staff reportedly expressed their concerns on Wednesday in a meeting with CEO Daniel Ek, who defended keeping the episodes of the show with transphobic content on the streaming service. Certain episodes of the podcast have already been removed, including ones that featured conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Vice co-founder and far-right figure Gavin McInnes.
The episode that is said to have caused the most concern among Spotify featured journalist Abigail Shrier in July. During the interview, she compared being transgender to having autism, and implied YouTube and other media had "pressured" youth into transitioning. Rogan, for his part, appeared to agree with most of what Shrier had to say. "You realize that people are not looking at this objectively," Rogan said. "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."
Shrier is an author of a book entitled Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, which has widely been labeled as transphobic. The book sees her compare the desire to transition to eating disorders, self-harm, and occult interests.
During the meeting, Ek said this isn't the first time concerns about Rogan have been raised. "In the case of Joe Rogan, a total of 10 meetings have been held with various groups and individuals to hear their respective concern. And some of them want Rogan removed because of things he's said in the past," he reportedly said.
Many employees submitted questions during the meeting, with a significant amount stating they were uncomfortable with the content. "Many LGBTQAI+/ally Spotifiers feel unwelcome and alienated because of leadership's response in JRE conversations. What is your message to those employees?" read one of the questions, while another specifically questioned why Spotify hasn't done anything about the "transphobic content in the JRE catalog."
Ek stressed to employees that they were not to leak any information from the meeting to the media, threatening to move conversations to "closed doors" if the team can't have an "open, confidential debate." Ek added, "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 judgment call."
In a statement, a Spotify spokesperson said the company is "strongly committed to the LGBTQ+ community and diversity in all forms." In the statement, the spokesperson also stated the content was reviewed and apparently did not violate the company's content guidelines. The episode featuring Shrier is still available to listen to on Spotify.