Joe Rogan has issued a statement and apology after clips of the podcast host saying the N-word 24 times surfaced online and were boosted by artist India Arie, who used them to explain why she was pulling her music from Spotify.
“I’m making this video to talk about the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly,” Rogan said in a nearly 6-minute Instagram video posted early Saturday morning. He called the compilation “clips taken out of context” before acknowledging that it “looks f—in’ horrible, even to me.”
“I know to most people there is no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word, nevermind publicly on a podcast. And I agree with that now,” Rogan continued. “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, 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.”
Rogan went on to cite other comedians and personalities who have used the word in their art, like Red Foxx, Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce and Quentin Tarantino, claiming that he was using the word to discuss how powerful it was.
“It’s a very unusual word, but it’s not my word to use,” Rogan admitted before stating that he is not racist. “I’m well aware of that now, but for years I used it in that manner. I never used it to be racist, because I’m not racist. But whenever you’re in a situation where you have to say, ‘I’m not racist,’ you f—ed up. And I clearly have f—ed up. And that’s my intention to express myself in this video, to say there’s nothing I can do to take that back. I wish I could; obviously, that’s not possible. I do hope that, if anything, this can be a teachable moment.”
Rogan, who has been accused recently of spreading COVID-19 misinformation on his podcast and inviting guests who signal boost misinformation, then acknowledged he’s said “a lot of f—in’ stupid s—” on his podcast before defending himself on everything except race: “Which is fine when you’re talking about most things, but not when you’re talking about race.”
The podcast host went on to launch a defense of a specific story he shared on a past episode that was part of the compilation, in which he described stepping out of a cab into a Black neighborhood to see “Planet of the Apes” by saying “and then we stepped into ‘Planet of the Apes.’”
Rogan said the clip was from 11 years ago, and he was “trying to make the story entertaining” before defending himself. “I did not, nor would I ever say, that Black people are apes, but it sure f—in’ sounded like that. I immediately afterwards said, ‘That’s a racist thing to say. ‘Planet of the Apes’ wasn’t even in Africa. I was just sayin’ there’s a lot of Black people there.’” The podcast host added, “It wasn’t a racist story, but it sounded horrible,” before noting that he ended up deleting the episode years ago.
Rogan concluded by saying he hoped this could be a teachable moment not just for himself but for others. “I can’t go back in time and change what I said, I wish I could but obviously that’s not possible. But I do hope that this can be a teachable moment for anybody who doesn’t realize how offensive that word can be coming out of a white person’s mouth in context or out of context.”
At the end of the video, he finally offered the apology: “My sincere and humble apologies. I wish there was more I could say, but all of this is coming from the bottom of my heart. It makes me sick watching that video. But hopefully at least some of you will accept this and understand where I’m coming from.”
Rogan’s past use of the N-word made the rounds on the internet on Friday when India Arie shared the videos on her Instagram, explaining why she was leaving Spotify. “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.”
Arie is one of many artists who have pulled their music from Spotify in the wake of Rogan’s spread of misinformation, which also includes Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash.
“I empathize with the people who are leaving for the COVID disinformation reasons – and I think that they should. I also think that Joe Rogan has the right to say whatever he wants to say,” Arie said. “I also think that I have the right to say whatever I want to say.”
Spotify has thus far not responded to Rogan’s past use of the N-word but did issue a statement saying they’d be adding “content advisory” labels on potential misinformation going forward.
You can watch Rogan’s full statement in the video below.