White House press secretary Jen Psaki applauded Spotify Tuesday for adding disclaimers to podcast episodes that discuss COVID-19 — before adding “there’s more that can be done.”
The new Spotify warnings will link to a virus information page in response to a pressure campaign to boot Joe Rogan from the platform over controversial remarks on his popular podcast about vaccines and treatment options.
“This disclaimer is a positive step, but we want every platform to continue doing more to call out mis- and disinformation while also uplifting accurate information,” Psaki said in response to a reporter’s question at her regular press briefing.
“Look at the facts, right? You are 16 times more likely to be hospitalized if you’re unvaccinated and 68 times more likely to die than someone who is boosted, if you’re unvaccinated,” she added. “That’s pretty significant. And we think that is something that unquestionably should be the basis of how people are communicating about it.”
“Our view is it’s a good step,” Psaki concluded. “It’s a positive step, but there’s more that can be done.”
Rogan has stirred controversy by saying he is unvaccinated and by discussing novel treatments such as ivermectin, which later gained scientific backing.
Signers Joni Mitchell and Neil Young said last week that they wanted to remove their music from Spotify due to Rogan’s presence.
“Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives,” Mitchell said.
Young was more direct, saying: “They can have Neil Young or Rogan. Not Both.”
Rogan’s podcast regularly boasts millions of downloads per episode. A 2018 episode featuring Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk clocked almost 50 million downloads.
Rogan, a comedian and commentator for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, defended his remarks about the pandemic late Sunday.
“The problem I have with the term ‘misinformation,’ especially today, is that many of the things that we thought of as misinformation just a short while ago are now accepted as fact,” Rogan said in an Instagram video.
“For instance, eight months ago if you said, ‘If you get vaccinated, you can still catch COVID and you can still spread COVID,’ you’d be removed from social media — they would, they would ban you from certain platforms,” he went on. “Now, that’s accepted as fact. If you said, ‘I don’t think cloth masks work,’ you would be banned from social media. Now that’s openly and repeatedly stated on CNN. If you said, ‘I think it’s possible that COVID-19 came from a lab,’ you’d be banned from many social media platforms. Now that’s on the cover of Newsweek.”
“I’m interested in having interesting conversations with people that have differing opinions,” Rogan added. “I’m not interested in only talking to people that have one perspective.”
But he also said in the video response, “I think if there’s anything that I’ve done that I could do better is have more experts with differing opinions right after I have the controversial ones. I would most certainly be open to doing that.”
“I’m not a doctor. I’m not a scientist. I’m just a person who sits down and talks to people in those conversations with them,” Rogan said. “Do I get things wrong? Absolutely. I get things wrong, but I try to correct them.”
Rogan, like Psaki, said he welcomed the Spotify disclaimers and said he is “very happy” with the platform’s decision to add them.
“One of the things that Spotify wants to do that I agree with, is at the beginning of these controversial podcasts, specifically these ones about COVID, is to put a disclaimer and say that you should speak with your physician and that these people, the opinions they express, are contrary to the opinions of the consensus of experts, which I think is very important,” Rogan said. “Sure, have it on there. I’m very happy with that.”