News and Commentary

TOTO: Joe Rogan vs. Spotify: Cancel Culture’s Last Stand?

Spotify employees ratchet up the pressure to censor the popular podcaster
Comedian Joe Rogan performs during his appearance at The Ice House Comedy Club on September 27, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Michael Schwartz/WireImage)
Michael Schwartz/WireImage via Getty Images

Joe Rogan got more than a reported $100 million payday in his epic Spotify deal earlier this year. The comic turned podcaster inherited the Cancel Culture crusade, and it’s flaring up on him months before he officially segues to Spotify full time.

The “NewsRadio” alum burnished his podcasting bona fides by talking to everyone about, well, everything. He cracked wise with conspiracy hurler Alex Jones, talked policy with former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and chatted up any number of MMA stars.

Along the way Rogan’s audience learned to trust him in a way that isn’t easy to accomplish. Conservatives, in particular, cheered his pro-free speech approach even if he wouldn’t go near a MAGA hat. Rogan appears left-of-center in several ways, going so far as to endorse Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders earlier this year. Rogan’s common-sense attitude, and his lust for hunting and MMA, made him both refreshing and fearless.

He’s the furthest thing from a “snowflake,” and that’s catnip to Red State USA.

Those qualities, along with an unwillingness to support trans female athletes competing against other women, also put a target on his back for the social justice mob. That group grumbled when Rogan endorsed Sanders, but that was but a warm-up act.

Now, they’re demanding Rogan change his ways … or else.

The trouble began with news reports of tensions within Team Spotify after parts of Rogan’s back catalogue joined the company’s lineup. Spotify workers held 10 separates meetings with CEO Daniel Ek expressing concerns about their new hire.

Some staff inside the company feel alienated by Spotify’s hosting of certain The Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) episodes, according to copies of some of the questions presented to the meeting obtained by Motherboard….

One of the submitted questions was “Many LGBTQAI+/ally Spotifiers feel unwelcome and alienated because of leadership’s response in JRE conversations. What is your message to those employees?” Another was “Why has Spotify chosen to ignore Spectrum ERG’s guidance about transphobic content in the JRE catalog?”, referring to a group of Spotify workers who focus on related issues.

Far left activists also loathe Rogan for “deadnaming” Caitlyn Jenner and poking fun at the former Olympian’s family’s public squabbles, joking it factored into the gender transition.

So far, Ek has Rogan’s back. The pressure increased this week, though, with Spotify employees threatening a walk out or even a strike unless they have control over the podcast’s content.

That would include the ability to directly edit or remove sections of upcoming interviews, or block the uploading of episodes deemed problematic. The employees also demanded the ability to add trigger warnings, corrections, and references to fact-checked articles on topics discussed by Rogan in the course of his multi-hour discussions.

The potential strike, according to Digital Music News, would feature N.Y.-based Spotify employees, at first, and include protests in front of the company’s Manhattan headquarters. The complaints would spread from there to include media outreach and alliances with like-minded activists.

The media isn’t doing Rogan many favors in the current fight.

Vice called Rogan “transphobic” in a headline about the podcaster’s Spotify battle. The same reporters who rallied to protect Netflix’s “Cuties” from its legion of legitimate critics haven’t rushed to defend Rogan’s free speech.

And they likely won’t.

Rogan appears to be staying quiet on the matter, letting the in-fighting take place behind the scenes. It may be the best approach, allowing Ek defend his high-profile hire.

As he should. Little of Rogan’s brand was a secret prior to Spotify forking over millions to host his podcast.

Should Spotify bow to the mob it will be a blow to more than Rogan’s considerable empire. If woke Millennials can make a massive company like Spotify bend to their will, few cultural voices are safe.

That ending would also reinforce a lesson Jason Whitlock of Outkick fame shares regarding the current media climate.

Truly independent thinkers in the Rogan mold are better off creating their own platforms instead of assuming corporate behemoths will let them speak their minds, Whitlock says.

It’s why Adam Carolla remains the captain of his self-described “pirate ship” even while his former creative partner, Jimmy Kimmel, rose higher up the corporate ladder via ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmy Live.”

Then again, Kimmel was forced to shout “Black Lives Matter!” over and again while hosting this year’s Emmy’s telecast.

Did Kimmel really have any choice in the matter?

More from Christian Toto: 9 New Hard-Hitting Conservative Documentaries You Must Watch

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