Apr 29, 2021 - Health

Joe Rogan walks back anti-vaccination comments

Joe Rogan. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Joe Rogan back-pedaled on statements he made on his podcast last week when he suggested young people who are healthy do not need to get the coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: Rogan's comments drew swift backlash from critics, including multiple Biden officials.

  • "Did Joe Rogan become a medical doctor while we weren't looking?" White House communications director Kate Bedingfield quipped when asked about the comments on TV Wednesday.
  • "You're talking about yourself in a vacuum," said White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci on NBC.

Details: On an episode of his podcast out Thursday, Rogan acknowledged the White House's response to his comments and conceded "there's some legitimate science behind this."

  • "I'm not an anti-vaxx person," he clarified. "I said I believe they're safe and I encourage many people to take them. My parents were vaccinated. I just said that if you're a young, healthy person that you don't need it."
  • "Their argument was, you need it for other people ... But that's a different argument. That's a different conversation."
  • Rogan went on to add that his comments were blown out of proportion in part due to clickbait headlines.
  • He also said he was scheduled to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before that vaccine was temporarily paused.

"I'm not a doctor, I'm a f***-ing moron," he said. "I'm not a respected source of information, even for me ... But I at least try to be honest about what I'm saying."

Sources tell Axios that Spotify did not direct Rogan to soften his statements.

  • The tech giant faced criticism for giving the host a platform to spread misinformation about vaccines.
  • Spotify noted on its earnings report Thursday that increased subscriber growth and user engagement can be attributed in part to the better-than-expected performance of Rogan's podcast, which the company acquired exclusively for over $100 million.

The big picture: This isn't the first time Spotify has had to reckon with Rogan's comments. The audio company faced blowback for airing episodes of his podcast in October that featured far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

  • At the time, Spotify defended its decision not to remove the episode saying, “We are not going to ban specific individuals from being guests on other people’s shows, as the episode/show complies with our content policies."

Go deeper: Spotify reports strong Q1 revenue as Joe Rogan podcast exceeds expectations

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