Before Neil Young boycotted Spotify last week over “fake information about vaccines” on Joe Rogan’s podcast, the folk-rock legend made at least two high-profile contributions of his own to medical misinformation.
The censorious left only seems to care about certain types of “misinformation.”
Critics suggested Young’s outrage over Spotify “platforming” the hugely popular “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast was a case of the proverbial pot calling the kettle black.
THE POT: Young issued an ultimatum in a now-deleted open letter Tuesday: “I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
- “I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” Young explained on his website, apparently referring to Rogan’s recent COVID-19 vaccine-skeptical remarks and interviews.
- In a follow-up statement Friday, Young said: “I have never been in favor of censorship. Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information.”
- Young’s boycott of Spotify has grown to include fellow folk-rocker Joe Mitchell, podcaster Brené Brown and others.
THE KETTLE: While many progressive commentators celebrated Young, 76, as a brave truth-teller, others wondered why the musician has largely gotten a pass for his past promotion of debunked myths related to medical science.
1. AN INTERVIEW WITH MELODY MAKER, 1985:
Cancel Neil Young pic.twitter.com/h5DS3zEGj1
— James Kirchick (@jkirchick) January 31, 2022
As AIDS was ravaging gay America, Young said, “You go to a supermarket and you see a f*ggot behind the f*cking cash register, you don’t want him to handle your potatoes.”
- OK, but: While HIV was never transmitted via fomites or casual social interactions, AIDS has continued to be linked to anti-gay discrimination around the world.
2. “THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT,” 2016:
Young’s years-long activism against GMOs arguably peaked when, during the CBS talk show appearance, he scolded a man in a corn-cob costume: “I don’t normally like to label things but you’re so dangerous, and you’re dangerous to me personally and my family and the rest of the planet.”
- OK, but: GMOs have been established as safe for consumption, and have the potential to save millions of lives per year, according to experts.
THE JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE
In an Instagram video Sunday, Rogan responded graciously to his haters, saying “I’m not mad at Neil Young, I’m a huge Neil Young fan.”
His point about how alleged misinformation was suppressed and, with time, emerged as the truth (or at least as entirely reasonable) is utterly unanswerable and should create a profound sense of modesty among the cancellers, if they are capable of regret or reflection https://t.co/nO8hqbWcb6
— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) January 31, 2022
Rogan thanked Spotify for resisting the mounting pressure to “deplatform” him and pledged to “balance out these more controversial viewpoints” on his podcast.
- But Rogan also pushed back on the idea that he spreads “dangerous misinformation,” noting that “many of the things that we thought of as misinformation just a short while ago are now accepted as fact.”
- Rogan cited three examples: 1) that vaccines don’t stop the spread of COVID-19, 2) that cloth masks are ineffective and 3) the “lab leak theory” of the pandemic’s origin.
Conservative commentators applauded Rogan for drawing attention to hypocritical liberal gatekeeping.
- “We all get things wrong,” journalist Andrew Sullivan wrote in a recent rundown of the corporate media’s biggest errors, including the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story ahead of the 2020 election.
- “What makes this more worrying is simply that all these false narratives just happen to favor the interests of the left and the Democratic party,” Sullivan wrote. “And corrections, when they occur, take up a fraction of the space of the original falsehoods. These are not randos tweeting false rumors. They are the established press.”