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Joe Rogan Is Spotify's Tucker Carlson — The Untouchable Golden Goose

Joe Rogaan and Tucker Carlson

Brothers in racism, xenophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and supported by Donald Trump, neither will be ditched as long as they bring in the big dollars.

It's been estimated that Tucker Carlson Tonightsells over $100 million worth of advertising annually for Fox News during the show. This despite losing major advertisers over the years because of the hate, lies, and vitriol the namesake host spews. He's a cash cow for Fox, which is why, despite all the lies, he's still on the air, and he had the number 1 rated show for all cable news programs in 2021.

The number 1 podcast downloaded globally in 2021 was The Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan signed a deal with Spotify in September of 2020 estimated to be worth $100 million for the platform to exclusively distribute the show. That's how much is invested in Rogan, and as evidenced by its actions over the past two weeks, Spotify is going to do all it can to protect that investment.

But it's obvious that Rogan and Carlson have a lot in common beyond their top-rated programs. Both are scaring the bejesus out of people about vaccines, Jews, trans people, women, and immigrants. They are both misogynists, anti-Semites, xenophobes, transphobes, and bigots who have used racial and ethnic slurs and all other conceivable slurs without a hint of a reprimand.

And they have one fan in common -- Donald Trump! But I'm sure you weren't surprised to hear that. Trump reportedly took advice from Carlson on how to be president, and Trump told Rogan this week not to apologize about all he's said and added, "Don't let them make you look weak and frightened,"

To be clear, Rogan did apologize for his racist comments, and 118 episodes of his show were removed from Spotify. Nevertheless, Spotify management is standing firmly behind Rogan. "I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer," Spotify CEO Daniel Ek wrote in a letter to the company. In Ek's mind, how do you silence a $100 million investment?

Ek's response is not going over well with some. Legendary rocker Neil Young, who pulled his music from Spotify in protest of Rogan, Monday called for Spotify employees to quit their jobs, urging them to "get out of that place before it eats up your soul."

There were some miffed employees. The Verge reports, "The people working on trying to highlight other podcasting talent or showcase diverse creators for Black History Month have seen their initiatives sidelined while Rogan captured the company's attention." But what will come of it all?

Will we see Spotify employees walk out in protest, like what happened this summer with Netflix and Dave Chappelle, who maligned the transgender community in his most recent special? Perhaps there will be some pushback by employees, but as with Chappelle, this is all about the money. Spotify higher-ups might listen to their minions, but it's doubtful they'll do anything to risk losing the streaming service's biggest star, who brings in big bucks and audiences from around the world.

If I was just some lackey at Spotify and stood up in the office and yelled racist and transgender slurs, I would be led out by security. However, my job is not to be provocative, unlike Rogan, who's making a living and gaining audience share by stirring the pot, free speech or not.

I'm a firm believer in free speech. It gives me the opportunity to say what I want in this column. But when that speech becomes dangerous -- like instructing people not to get a vaccine to solve a public health issue or provoking hatred -- then we have a problem.

As with Carlson at Fox, it will be a hell-freezes -over day if Rogan is let go by Spotify. Young and his former bandmates David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Stephen Stills, along with Joni Mitchell and Nils Lofgren, have pulled their music. However, the impact will be negligble for the streamer, and we can't expect for a tidal wave of artists going off the platform in protest.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Rosanne Cash said for most musical artists, it's not their decision, as it's "not viable for most artists" to do the same because they're often less powerful than Young and Mitchell, don't always own the rights to their work, and often rely on streamers like Spotify to share their work and make money.

For a moment, I am briefly reminded of an old movie A Face in the Crowd, starring Andy Griffith, who plays Lonesome Rhodes, a local radio star who hits national fame on a television show. At the peak of Rhodes's popularity, he is caught on an open mike while the credits roll at the end of his show, scornfully mocking his "idiot" viewers. Overnight, the reaction was fierce, and Rhodes lost everything.

But then the analogy was suddenly lost on me: I don't see the similarity between Rhodes, Rogan, and Carlson. If Carlson was caught on an open mike calling his viewers "redneck, gullible idiots," they would cheer him on because that crowd stubbornly takes pride in being who they are.

Similarly, if Rogan let slip that his listeners were "a bunch of barflies, bigots, and blockheads," his fans would shout back a favorite Rogan expression, "World Class." They, like Carlson's tribe, know exactly who they are and take pride in their obstinacy.

As for me? I never downloaded Spotify, and I continue to listen to Pandora (I had a friend who worked there). However, if Pandora decides to put Rudy Giuliani on its service as the masked singer, I think I'll move to Tidal.

John Casey is editor at large for The Advocate.

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