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Joe Rogan’s Spotify podcast shows that canceling people on social media and “Big Tech censorship” can only go so far - and that the democratization of media keeps power vested in entertainers and informers.
Rogan is the 54-year-old host of the most listened to podcast in the world. Last viewing quarter showed that Rogan pulled in an average of 11 million per episode, over three times bigger than the next most watched television show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” with 3.24 million viewers.
If Joe Rogan was dropped from Spotify, he would simply post episodes on another website, taking his audience with him.
A beautiful thing about the free market is that viewer interest and attention will immediately be reflected in ad revenue and streaming numbers. Now, when dissatisfied with one host or viewpoint, viewers simply click on another personality, effectively voting with their eyes and ears. Rogan is viewed as one of many legacy media disrupters, but it’s easy to see that Spotify and YouTube are merely the new legacy media companies which will eventually be over taken by future web innovators or mismanaged to the detriment of their viewer base, much like the formerly dominant websites such as Tumblr, Myspace or Yahoo News.
Rogan asks questions that regular people have to the academic and political celebrities who we will never interact with. This is the allure of Rogan’s podcast and why he outperforms every other host in the market. Rogan isn’t a daily news source, he’s more like the “60 Minutes” of the 2020s. Or rather what “60 Minutes” aspired to be, but was unable to sustainably achieve due to sexist hosts and political bias.
Rogan recently hosted Dr. Robert Malone on his podcast. The two had a very long conversation about medical politics and lingered on the topic of myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, following the vaccine. Malone holds early patents for developing mRNA and DNA vaccine formulations and is a popular personality with smaller right-wing, online news platforms.
The podcast episode was pulled from YouTube just days after its release, but not before it was streamed to millions of people. Malone was actually permanently exiled from Twitter last week for “repeated violations” of its COVID-19 misinformation policy.
People have cried out that Malone was “canceled,” but being “canceled” isn’t even possible anymore given the diversity of hosting platforms and the willingness of audiences to follow their informational and entertainment beacons. If Joe Rogan was dropped from Spotify, he would simply post episodes on another website, taking his audience with him. This is why Spotify won’t remove his episode with Malone just like Netflix won’t remove the controversial Dave Chapelle comedy special.
Understanding this reality of diverse media platforms, we should instead focus our efforts on teaching critical thinking, logic and argument evaluation instead of simply demanding a person be deleted from the internet. With media power vested in the personality now and not the hosting platform, attempting to “cancel” someone in 2021 is futile and will probably only give the person more attention and legitimacy in the eyes of their audience.
Patricia Patnode is a Gazette editorial fellow. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org