Rogan discussed the ongoing scrutiny of his podcast with his guest, comic and actor Akaash Singh, on Tuesday (8 February) night’s episode.
In recent weeks, Rogan has come under fire for spreading Covid misinformation on his podcast – only available on Spotify as part of a $100m exclusivity contract – and using racially insensitive language.
After musician Neil Young triggered an exodus of artists from the Swedish audio platform over its association with Rogan and “lies costing people their lives” last month, Grammy-winner India Arie announced she was pulling her music catalogue from Spotify over Rogan’s “language around race” on 1 February.
She followed her announcement with an edited montage of clips that showed Rogan using the “n-word” at least 22 times.
Noting that the video of him using the racial slur “had always been out there”, Rogan told Singh: “This is a political hit job. They’re taking all this stuff I’ve ever said that’s wrong and smushing it all together.”
Rogan admitted, however, that the controversy was “a relief in a lot of ways” because it had made him “address some stuff that I really wish wasn’t out there”.
When Singh – who hosts The Flagrant Pod with comedian Andrew Schulz – lauded Rogan for apologising for the video, the 54-year-old podcaster said: “You should apologise if you regret something.”
“I do think you have to be very careful not to apologise for nonsense,” he added, citing Awkwafina’s recent defence of her “blaccent” or “Black accent” that was widely criticised online.
Rogan apologised for using the racial slur in a video posted on Instagram on 5 February, calling it “the most regretful and shameful thing I’ve ever had to talk about publicly”.
He also addressed the backlash over false information about Covid and vaccines on 31 January, saying people had a “distorted perception” of the work he does, and explaining that he tries to interview guests with conflicting or different points of view.
The right-wing has criticised Rogan for defending his content, with former US president Donald Trump urging him to “stop apologising to the Fake News and Radical Left lunatics and maniacs”.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis also appeared to agree that the criticism against Rogan was driven by political agenda when he said “legacy outlets and the Left” are out “to destroy” Rogan over his widespread popularity.
Meanwhile, right-wing video platform Rumble offered to match Spotify’s price for Rogan’s podcast, in exchange for exclusive rights to host JRE.
In an open letter posted on Twitter on Sunday (6 February), Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovski said he stands with Rogan and his “legion of fans in desire for real conversation”.
“How about you bring all your shows to Rumble, both old and new, with no censorship, for 100 million bucks over four years?” Pavlovski offered, adding: “This is our chance to save the world.”
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek condemned Rogan’s use of the racial slur in a recent, late-night memo to company employees, but added that “cancelling voices is a slippery slope”.