After Baylor microbiology professor and public health advocate Peter Hotez, MD Ph.D. tweeted a Motherboard article on Spotify’s lack of moderation of Joe Rogan’s misinformation following a podcast episode with guest Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Rogan challenged him to debate Robert F Kennedy, Jr proposing a $100,000 donation to a charity of Hotez’s choosing if he agrees.
In the episode, Rogan and Kennedy hit all the pandemic classics: vaccine conspiracy theories, 5G and Wi-Fi technology, and ivermectin. All the common tropes of covid pandemic conspiracy theories.
Twitter owner Elon Musk joined the Twitter fray, accusing Hotez of “hating charity” by not accepting the debate, and after Elon and Rogan spent hours taunting Hotez, the professor tweeted“I was just stalked in front of my house by some anti-vaxers who dared me to debate with RFKJr.”
That adds a disturbing new dynamic to this story, especially in the context of the Motherboard story that started this, which hit Spotify’s contortions to keep Rogan’s misinformation on the platform. The article quotes a Spotify spokesperson as saying Rogan and Kennedy never said covid vaccines were designed to kill people, the episode did not violate the rules.
Spotify signed a $100 million deal with Rogan more than three years ago and introduced a new set of misinformation policies after several high-profile stars had their music removed from the platform in protest of Rogan’s vaccine claims, which had previously not been addressed by Spotify.
Even with the policies in place, conspiracies were emphasized The Joe Rogan Experience could go viral if social media spread the claims. To date, according to JREmissing, a site that tracks episodes of the podcast that have been removed, 111 episodes have been removed.
Since Hotez’s original tweet, Rogan tweeted And retweeted criticisms and insinuations about Hotez – who has been a guest on the podcast in the past – a few times in the next few hours leading up to Hotez’s tweet about being stalked.
We’ve reached out to Spotify for comment on the story and will update with a response if we get one.
Update June 18, 2023, 2:56 ET PT: Updated the headline and added more details about the recent Rogan podcast episode.