CNN’s Jim Acosta and Brian Stelter attacked podcast host Joe Rogan over the weekend as he faced continued backlash over old remarks that he made that recently resurfaced.
“And you and I both know that compilation right there, which he has admitted to, is authentic, that would be enough to put anybody out of a job,” Acosta said. “To me, it seems untenable to have that kind of video surface, that kind of compilation surface, and keep one’s job.”
Acosta later doubled-down on seemingly pushing for Rogan to lose his job, noting that Rogan’s remarks “would be enough for somebody to lose their job.”
Stelter told Acosta he was “right,” saying, “there are many examples including in Hollywood and entertainment where people have lost their roles for less than this.”
"It seems untenable to have that kind of video surface, and that kind of compilation surface, and keep one’s job" pic.twitter.com/rSyAV8f1dN
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 6, 2022
JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Just unbelievable. Let’s bring in CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter. Brian, what is Joe Rogan now saying?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: He is now apologizing. And we’re going to find out if that’s enough for Spotify, the company that has an exclusive distribution deal with him.
Jim, this is all coming to light because of the recent controversy about anti-vaccine rhetoric on Rogan’s podcast. Some artists decided to quit the service. One of them, India Arie, pointed out this video, this compilation video, and pointed out that the language Rogan has used around race in the past is just as or maybe even more problematic than his rhetoric about vaccines. We know Rogan’s show is known for its fresh and frank and unvarnished conversations. That’s why his fans like the show. But this compilation, this use of the n-word so many times in the past may be too much, even for some of his defenders to bear. But here is in Rogan’s own words part of his apology today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE ROGAN, HOST, “THE JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE”: I am making this video to talk about the most regretful and shameful thing that I have ever had to talk about publicly. There is a video that’s out that is a compilation of me saying the n-word. It’s a video that’s made of clips taken out of context of me of 12 years of conversations on my podcast, and it’s all smushed together, and it’s looks — horrible, even to me.
I know that to most people, there is no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word, never mind publicly on a podcast. And I agree with that now. I haven’t said it in years. But for a long time, when I would bring that word up, like if it would come up in conversation, instead of saying “the n-word,” I would just say the word. I never used it to be racist because I am not racist. But whenever you are in a situation where you have to say, “I’m not racist,” you — up, and I have clearly have — up.
(END VIDEO CLIP) STELTER: Yes, he clearly has, Jim.
ACOSTA: Yes, and he clearly has. And you and I both know that compilation right there, which he has admitted to, is authentic, that would be enough to put anybody out of a job. To me, it seems untenable to have that kind of video surface, that kind of compilation surface, and keep one’s job.
But Brian, there is another video that “Patriot Takes” put out which I also want to play.
It’s a story Joe Rogan is telling of when he went to see what he describes as the planet of the apes. It’s awful, but just show it, and then talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE ROGAN, HOST, “THE JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE”: And it says, OK, take me to this one. And the guy goes, OK. I go, is that in a good neighborhood? He’s like, oh, yes, yes, yes. The guy barely speaks English. He takes us there, we get out, and we’re giggling, we’re going to see “Planet of the Apes.” We walk into planet of the apes. We walked into Africa, dude. We walked in the door, and there was no white people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And Rogan addressed this in his video as well. What did he have to say about that?
STELTER: Yes, that’s right. These are multiple examples of offensive content on his podcast that he is trying to apologize for at the same time. Here is what he said about this part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE ROGAN, HOST, “THE JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE”: I did not, nor would I ever say, that black people are apes, but it sure — sounded like that. And I immediately afterwards said, that’s a racist thing to say, “Planet of the Apes” wasn’t even in Africa. I was just saying that there was a lot of black people there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And a lot of this is about money.
STELTER: So he is, again, trying to defuse this.
ACOSTA: Go ahead, I’m sorry.
STELTER: Trying to defuse this, Jim, and whether it’s going to work is anybody’s guess. We’ve been reaching out to Spotify asking for comment. Spotify promotes itself as just a platform where anybody can put up their podcast. But with Rogan, they’re paying Rogan tens of millions of dollars, reportedly $100 million for exclusive rights to his content, including these old episodes full of him using the n-word.
Listeners have noticed that several dozen episodes have been taken down. Apparently, those are the episodes that we have heard clips from today, so Spotify might be on a cleanup mission trying to erase some of Rogan’s past. But will the company continue to stand by him? That’s an open question. We have not heard back from Spotify.
ACOSTA: Right. Joe Rogan can continue to host his podcast, if people want to listen to it, they can. But it doesn’t have to be on Spotify. Some of these companies that put these types of programs on their platforms, they don’t have to put them there, right, Brian? Are they contractually obligated to do that?
STELTER: Companies like Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, they prevent themselves just as platforms, neutral platforms. But actually Spotify in this case is a media company getting in business to distribute Rogan. They don’t have to be in that business. They have chosen it because they want to grow their podcast business. That’s a choice they might support and stick with. In fact, the other day the head of the company said, if we are going to be in the podcast business, we are going to host content that is going to make people upset, that people aren’t going to like. So maybe the company is going to stay with that position. But this is what it means to actually be a media company and not just some Silicon Valley platform the way Spotify used to claim that it is.
ACOSTA: But Brian, to the earlier question that you and I were discussing a few moment ago, typically in the past when a video like the one at the beginning of this segment that we aired of Joe Rogan saying the n-word repeatedly over and over and over again over the course of many of his episodes, that would be enough for somebody to lose their job. Why might the situation be different this time, do you think?
STELTER: It might be different because these are episodes that existed before Spotify bought into the Joe Rogan business, so before he was part of this exclusive deal to distribute. He was out more out on his own as a independent broadcaster. They might try to claim, oh, this was all in the past. But you are right, Jim, there are many examples including in Hollywood and entertainment where people have lost their roles for less than this. And that maybe why Spotify is being so quiet.
At the same time, I want to recognize, there are reasons why Rogan has lots of fans, millions of fans. People want to hear his candid conversation. But there is a difference between that, between candid, in-depth conversations, and the kind of vile that is in this compilation, Jim.
ACOSTA: Right. And it’s not just like it happened one time. It has happened repeatedly over the years, and it seems to me he is going to have to do more than put out an apology, a profanity-laced apology video, to put this matter to rest. Brian Stelter, thanks very much for your time. We appreciate it.