In a tweet Friday, Johnson said he was not aware that Rogan had used the N-word repeatedly on The Joe Rogan Experience. Earlier in the week, Johnson had shared support for Rogan in response to the controversy surrounding his podcast exploring anti-vaccine theories and COVID-19 misinformation.
“Thank you so much for this,” Johnson — whose father is Black — replied to a tweet from author Don Winslow.
“I hear you as well as everyone here 100% I was not aware of his N-word use prior to my comments, but now I’ve become educated to his complete narrative. Learning moment for me.”
Singer India Arie shared a compilation video late last week showing 23 clips from Rogan’s show; in the clips, he uses the N-word 24 times. It also includes footage of him making jokes about Black neighbourhoods and the movie Planet of the Apes.
Arie posted the video to explain why she asked Spotify to remove her catalogue from their streaming service.
“He shouldn’t even be uttering the word,” Arie said. “Don’t even say it, under any context. Don’t say it. That’s where I stand. I have always stood there.”
In an apology video posted on Instagram on Saturday, Rogan said it was the “most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.”
During the video, Rogan said footage that emerged of him using the epithet had been taken out of context, but looked “horrible, even to me.”
“Now, I haven’t said it in years, but for a long time, when I would bring that word up, like, if it would come up in conversation and instead of saying the n-word, I would just say the word — I thought as long as it was in context, people would understand what I was doing,” he explained.
“It’s not my word to use. I am well aware of that now, but for years I used it in that manner,” he continues. “I never used it to be racist because I’m not racist.”
Fans of Johnson were divided last week after the former wrestler shared some words of encouragement on a video that Rogan had posted in response to the fallout.
In the video, Rogan said he would “maybe try harder to get people with differing opinions,” after several musicians, including Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, pulled their music from the streaming service, citing what Young called Rogan’s vaccine “disinformation.”
In response to the video, Johnson wrote: “Great stuff here, brother. Perfectly articulated.”
He added that he looked forward to “coming on one day and breaking out the tequila with you.”
Media reports on Saturday said more than 70 episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast had been removed from the Spotify Technology SA service.
Last week, Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek said it’s important the streaming service doesn’t “take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.”
In a statement over the weekend, Ek said: “While I strongly condemn what Joe has said … I want to make one point very clear — I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer … We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but cancelling voices is a slippery slope.”
Should Rogan eventually leave Spotify, it appears a suitor has emerged: Rumble, a video streaming platform, has offered Rogan a spot for his podcast.
In a tweet on Monday, Rumble offered Rogan $100 million over four years should he choose to part ways with Spotify.
“This is our chance to save the world,” a letter credited to Rumble CEO Chris Pawlovski said. “And, yes, this is totally legit.”
— With files from Reuters