By Jonathon Van Maren
With 190 million downloads a month, the Joe Rogan Experience is one of the world’s most influential podcasts, consistently outperforming nearly every other show on virtually every digital platform. Joe Rogan, a comedian, MMA commentator, and TV host, interviews a broad range of guests. Political candidates (such as Bernie Sanders), comedians, actors, athletes, pundits, journalists, authors, and scientists regularly join him for rambling, hours-long conversations on every imaginable topic. Rogan is a politically promiscuous powerhouse—and to the frustration of progressives, nearly impossible to pin down or define. He’s libertarian but a Bernie supporter; socially progressive, but opposed to much of the transgender agenda; left-leaning but opposed to cancel culture. He drives them crazy.
I’ll admit that I rarely listen to Rogan due to the amount of swearing and frequent blasphemy he employs, only tuning in when he is debating a conservative like Ben Shapiro on same-sex marriage. But I did listen to his interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Abigail Shrier on her new book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters (I had her on my own podcast for a similar discussion several days prior.) No reasonable listener could have construed the conversation as conservative—Shrier does not oppose sex change surgeries (except for minors) and is open to much of the LGBT movement’s agenda. As I detailed in my review of Irreversible Damage for The American Conservative, Shrier is simply concerned by the wave of children being rushed into “transition,” and the terrifying impact the trans ideology is having on children and their families.
It bears noting that Shrier’s book has been lauded by many mainstream liberals, from The Atlantic’s Caitlin Flanagan to David Frum and Danielle Crittenden. Despite that, the trans activists have come for her with a vengeance, smearing her with every epithet available to them and successfully lobbying Amazon to ban advertising for her book. As you can imagine, her interview with Joe Rogan—a phenomenal opportunity for any author selling books—sent them into tailspins of rage. Not only is Shrier “transphobic,” trans activists and their media allies charged, but so is Joe Rogan. It bears mentioning that Rogan has been a long-time target of theirs due to his opposition to biological males participating in female sporting events. Like J.K. Rowling, however, Rogan has proven too big to cancel.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t trying their best. In May, Rogan announced that his podcast would be moving to Spotify in an exclusive licensing deal worth an estimated $100 million. Trans activists immediately seized on the opportunity to engage in one of their tried-and-true tactics: Pressure Big Business to level censorship of views they dislike. Men’s Health reported that “Joe Rogan Is Spreading Transphobic Hate Speech and It’s Putting Lives In Danger.” Vice solemnly noted that “Spotify CEO Defends Keeping Transphobic Joe Rogan Podcasts Online.” According to The Industry Observer:
The multi-million dollar Spotify deal with Joe Rogan is reportedly proving to be a source of conflict between Spotify’s workforce and its leadership. As Vice report, on Wednesday, September 16th, Spotify hosted a town hall meeting that saw employees raise concerns over content in the Joe Rogan archive. Specifically taking umbrage with commends Rogan made deemed transphobic. “Many LGBTQAI+/ally Spotifiers feel unwelcome and alienated because of leadership’s response in JRE conversations. What is your message to those employees?” one question read.
The concerns relate to an episode uploaded earlier this year, that saw Rogan interview author Abigail Shrier, author of the largely-baseless transgender, widely-criticised Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. During her appearance on the website, Shrier associates transness with autism, and both Shrier and Rogan discuss their theory that YouTube and social media are influencing young people to transition.
“In the case of Joe Rogan, a total of 10 meetings have been held with various groups and individuals to hear their respective concerns,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said. “And some of them want Rogan removed because of things he’s said in the past.”
“Others have concerns specifically over a recent episode,” Ek continued. “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.”
Part of Joe Rogan’s deal stipulated that he will maintain complete creative control, but Spotify is clearly concerned about their progressive credentials. “At Spotify, we are strongly committed to the LGBTQ+ community and diversity in all of its forms,” a Spotify spokesperson told Vice in a statement. There is little doubt that this statement will be challenged by woke employees who claim that views they disagree with (although I’d be willing to bet Rogan’s salary that none of them have read Shrier’s book) should be removed, cancelled, or otherwise memory-holed. It doesn’t matter that Shrier’s well-researched book should shock everyone, or that she interviewed many people who regretted their path to transition. It doesn’t matter that many pro-LGBT people have recommended it. It only matters that they think they disagree with her, and that Rogan “platformed” her.
Trans ideology flourishes in an environment where nobody asks any questions and those who do are severely punished. Figures like Rogan, Rowling, and others—who would have been considered cutting-edge progressives scarcely five years ago—are now the enemy. They have platforms that trans activists cannot colonize, and that drives them crazy. I hope it lasts.