Australia’s Favourite Spotify Podcast Is ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’, So That’s Bleak

With great power comes no responsibility.

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Australia’s most streamed podcast on Spotify according to this year’s Spotify Wrapped was The Joe Rogan Experience. Let that sink in. 

Whether you love it hate it, Spotify Wrapped has become a bona fide Christmas tradition, with posting your results emerging as the musical equivalent of sharing your Myers-Briggs type. 

It’s also a treasure trove of big data that tells us who really had everyone’s ear this year on Spotify, and I regret to inform you that for Australians in 2022, it was Joe Rogan.

Given the year we’ve had, I’m not entirely surprised. I’m not the first to notice that right-wing noise is getting louder. Trans communities in Australia have been put through hell after taking cues from culture wars in the US Florida passed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. Roe v Wade was overturned. Some teachers in the UK have reported an uptick in far-right ideologies among their students. Hell, even our own former PM met Jordan Peterson, for some reason.  

While the political leaning of Rogan himself can be a little contradictory, it’s precisely this grey area where he thrives. By identifying himself as a guardian of “free speech”, Rogan has carved out a space that allows him to platform controversial guests without taking responsibility for what they say. 

Yes, political discourse can be exhausting and polarising. It can come with a lot of hard truths and the need for some serious critical thinking.

But Joe Rogan has demonstrated time and time again that he’s not the right guy for the job. 

Rogan has platformed guests, for example, who have claimed that hospital executives were hiding COVID treatments from patients. He’s also falsely claimed that masks don’t reduce COVID transmission and reckons that mRNA vaccines are a “major threat to reproductive health.”

Yes, this is a man who has definitively caused harm through a complete disregard for journalistic responsibility, and getting paid hundreds of millions of dollars to do so.

It’s unclear why Rogan’s podcast has so much sway in Australia. Perhaps people find solace in his gym bro energy, and see the words ‘free speech’ as an ironclad defence.

But Rogan’s podcast isn’t the robust marketplace of ideas we think it is. It’s misinformation and disinformation – not to mention misogyny and racism – packaged in the form of a reasonable guy just wanting to “have a conversation

And many Australians are eating it up. 

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article referred to The Joe Rogan Experience as Australia’s most popular podcast, rather than the most streamed podcast on Spotify’s platform specifically. This has since been rectified.