Jon Stewart Says Neil Young Leaving Spotify Over Joe Rogan Is an “Overreaction” and a “Mistake”

The former "Daily Show" host weighed in on the issue on Thursday's episode of his podcast

Jon Stewart attends 10th Annual Stand Up For Heroes Show at Madison Square Garden on November 1, 2016 in New York City. Stewart recently said artists like Neil Young leaving Spotify over Joe Rogan's podcast is an overreaction.
Jon Stewart attends 10th Annual Stand Up For Heroes Show at Madison Square Garden on November 1, 2016.
Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic

Since Neil Young pulled his music from Spotify in protest of Joe Rogan’s COVID-19 misinformation about a week ago, inspiring other high-profile musicians like Joni Mitchell to follow his lead, celebrities and pundits have been weighing in, with some applauding Young for taking a stand and others siding with the controversial podcast host. However, there’s one comedian whose support for the latter is perhaps a bit unexpected: none other than Jon Stewart.

On Thursday’s episode of his podcast The Problem With Jon Stewart, Stewart reiterated that he disagrees with Rogan’s beliefs about COVID-19 but insisted that musicians leaving the streaming service over them is an “overreaction.”

“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,” he said. “But this overreaction to Rogan, I think, is a mistake.”

Instead, he said, Rogan is just a symptom of a greater problem when it comes to the spread of dangerous misinformation and propaganda.

“I’m more worried about the algorithm of misinformation than the purveyor of misinformation,” he explained. “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 added that he doesn’t view Rogan as an “ideologue” and noted that the rhetoric about him was “overblown.” “I think there are dishonest bad actors in the world and identifying those is so much more important to me,” he said. “Don’t leave. Don’t abandon. Don’t censor. Engage.”

Of course, Stewart is entitled to his opinion, but it’s that last bit that we have to take issue with. Young choosing to leave Spotify because he doesn’t want to share a platform with Rogan isn’t censorship. Just as Rogan is free to say whatever the hell he wants, Young and others who disagree with him are free to react however they see fit, and if that includes deciding they don’t want to give their business to a company associated with him, so be it. Presumably Stewart, who spent years tearing into Rupert Murdoch and Fox News during his time as host of The Daily Show, would never take a job hosting a show on Fox. Isn’t that decision to draw a line in the sand and refuse to compromise his morals for a paycheck from a company whose values don’t align with his exactly the same thing as what Young has done?

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