Jon Stewart says the current controversy surrounding popular podcaster Joe Rogan is an "overreaction" and defended both Rogan and his show.
Stewart addressed the controversy on his podcast, "The Problem with Jon Stewart." He said Rogan is not "an ideologue in any way" and is open to being corrected when he's wrong.
"There's no question that there is egregious misinformation that's purposeful and hateful, and that being moderated is a credit to the platforms that run them," Stewart said. "But this overreaction to Rogan, I think, is a mistake."
Stewart pointed out that Rogan acknowledged he was incorrect about the effects of the COVID-19 vaccine on children and young people.
"Don't leave. Don't abandon. Don't censor," Stewart said. "Engage."
Stewart further called the outcry over COVID-19 misinformation on Rogan's podcast "overblown rhetoric."
He gave the example of a recent episode, in which Rogan debated Josh Zepps over Rogan's claims that there is an "adverse risk" of myocarditis — an inflammation of the heart muscle — among 12-17-year-olds who receive the vaccine.
"Misinformation will always be out there, but if the algorithm drives people further and further down the rabbit hole, the algorithm is the amplifier and the catalyst of extremism," Stewart said.
Rogan "has power because so many people listen to him," Stewart said. The Conversation reported this week that an estimated 200 million people download Rogan's podcast each month.
On Sunday, Rogan said he will work to balance the information presented on his show after several musicians demanded Spotify remove their music because of COVID-19 misinformation on "The Joe Rogan Experience."
The streaming service purchased exclusive rights to the podcast.
"My pledge to you is that I will do my best to try to balance out these more controversial viewpoints with other people's perspectives so we can maybe find a better point of view," he said in a nearly 10-minute video posted to Instagram.
A growing number of musicians and content creators have joined Neil Young in boycotting the platform, including Canadian songwriter Joni Mitchell, India Arie and Nils Lofgren, a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash have also taken their music down.
Rogan said he is "not trying to promote misinformation" or "trying to be controversial," and said that his primary goal has been to "talk to people and have interesting conversations," The Hill reported.
Spotify said on Sunday that it will add a content advisory "to any podcast episode that includes a discussion" about COVID.
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