New York (AFP) – US podcaster Joe Rogan apologized Saturday for his past use of racist language including the “N word” and said at least one offensive episode of his show has been deleted from streaming giant Spotify.
“My sincere and humble apologies,” Rogan said in a nearly-six-minute Instagram post addressing what he called “the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.”
Rogan’s incendiary language is the latest explosive development to roil Spotify and its flagship star, who have both faced a popular backlash over Covid-19 misinformation on his shows.
The 54-year-old acknowledged he had a particular podcast episode removed which referred to his seeing a movie in a Black neighborhood where he said “it was like we were in ‘Planet of the Apes’.”
The New York Times reported Saturday that as many as 70 episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience” show had been quietly taken off Spotify. The streaming service had yet to respond to queries from AFP.
Rogan said his use of the “N word” over a 12-year period — highlighted in a recently uncovered compilation video of him using the term — looks “horrible, even to me.”
He said he believed at the time that as long as he was using the word in context that people would understand his actions.
“I never used it to be racist, because I’m not racist,” he said.
But there is “no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word, nevermind publicly on a podcast,” he added.
“If a white person says that word it’s racist and toxic, but a Black person can use it and it can be a punchline, it can be a term of endearment, it could be lyrics to a rap song, it could be a positive affirmation.”
Rogan went on: “It’s a very unusual word, but it’s not my word to use. I’m well aware of that now.”
Spotify’s stock fell sharply Thursday amid controversy over Rogan’s show, which garners up to 11 million listeners per episode.
Music legends Neil Young and Joni Mitchell as well as other artists asked that their songs be removed from the platform in protest of Rogan, who has been accused of spouting misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccinations, either directly or through the guests he interviews on his show.
As for his racist language, Rogan said he aimed to do better.
“I can’t go back in time and change what I said…. but I do hope that this can be a teachable moment for anybody that doesn’t realize how offensive that word can be coming out of a white person’s mouth — in context or out of context,” he said.
Rogan went into detailed description of his remarks on the removed episode from 11 years ago in which he spoke about seeing “Planet of the Apes” with friends in a neighborhood of Philadelphia.
“I did not, nor would I ever, say that Black people are apes, but it sure… sounded like that,” he said on his Instagram post which already racked up 3.6 million views.
“And I immediately afterward said that’s a racist thing to say. ‘Planet of the Apes’ wasn’t even in Africa, I was just saying there were a lot of Black people there” in the neighborhood.
It sounded “terrible,” he acknowledged. “You can have clunky stories about anything, but not about race.”