On the grounds that muzzling speech is the best way to win an argument, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki is calling for more to be done on the vexing subject of podcaster Joe Rogan.
Rogan has carved out a niche in the American consciousness by offering an uninhibited and often contrary view of the orthodoxy of vaccine mandates, as well as the overall merits of coronavirus vaccines.
Rogan has taken a center-stage position after musician Neil Young took his music off of Spotify because Spotify would not remove Rogan’s episodes that include what Young says is misinformation on COVID-19.
Spotify Chief Executive Daniel Ek said Spotify will post advisories that will link to Spotify’s fact-based COVID-19 hub in what he described as a “new effort to combat misinformation.”
“Personally, there are plenty of individuals and views on Spotify that I disagree with strongly,” Ek wrote in a post in announcing the new step. “It is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.”
“Our hope is that all major tech platforms — and all major news sources, for that matter — be responsible and be vigilant to ensure the American people have access to accurate information on something as significant as COVID-19. And that certainly includes Spotifly,” she said, flubbing the streaming service’s name.
“So, this disclaimer — it’s a positive step. But we want every platform to continue doing more to call out misinform- — mis- and disinformation while also uplifting accurate information,” Psaki said during her White House briefing on Tuesday.
“But, ultimately, you know, our view is it’s a — it’s a — it’s a good step, it’s a positive step, but there’s more that can be done,” she said without going into detail.
Rogan, in a video on Instagram, said he was “not trying to promote misinformation, I’m not trying to be controversial. I’ve never tried to do anything with this podcast other than to just talk to people.”
“I’m interested in finding out what the truth is,” he said.
Rogan said he didn’t like the term “misinformation” because “many of the things that we thought of as misinformation just a short while ago are now accepted as fact.”
“Because figures like Rogan are trusted by people that don’t trust real newsrooms, we have a tension, a problem, that’s much bigger than Spotify. Much bigger than any single platform,” Stelter said.
In an Op-Ed in the American Spectator, Juan P. Villasmil said Rogan’s transgression was “not accepting the ineluctable truth imposed by a few white-coated petty authoritarians. His sin was asking questions, not imposing his views.”
In an Op-Ed for The Hill, legal scholar and Geroge Washington University professor Jonathan Turley said the issues at stake are larger than one streaming service and one maverick podcaster, noting that Democrats and corporations are lining up against free-wheeling debate.
“Democratic leaders, including President Biden, have encouraged companies to expand what they euphemistically call ‘content modification’ to block dissenting views on vaccines, election integrity, global warming, gender identity and a range of other issues,” Turley wrote, noting that Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has called for Amazon to revise how customers can view books to minimize the chances of them choosing books “she deems unhealthy or untrue,” per The Hill.
“The problem with controlling speech is that it has to be complete; it doesn’t work if there are alternatives to echo-chambered media,” Turley wrote. “Rogan’s podcast is one of the biggest. With 11 million listeners, he surpassed cable and network audiences as well as the readership of the largest papers. His program allows people across the political spectrum to speak freely, including those who question official positions on vaccines and treatments.”
Turley noted that corporations that censor content are the major threat to free speech and that if Rogan survives, there could be a new economic model to protect free-flowing commentary.
“With the explosion of corporate censorship, free speech advocates have begun to look at figures like Rogan as ‘super survivors,’ people who seem to have natural immunities protecting them from an otherwise lethal threat. If we can replicate those economic antibodies, we just might be able to develop a protection against censorship and the cancel culture,” Turley wrote.
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