Andrew Yang apologises after claiming Joe Rogan can’t be racist

Andrew Yang apologises after claiming Joe Rogan can’t be racist
Former candidate for New York mayor cites ‘capacity to forgive’ amid furore

Andrew Yang has issued an apology for appearing to defend Joe Rogan from accusations of racism amid a viral video of the podcast host using the “N” word.

The one-time presidential candidate allegedly tweeted on Sunday: “I don’t think Joe Rogan is a racist, the man interacts and works with Black people literally all of the time.”

Although the businessman and part-time Democrat deleted the tweet a while later, screenshots of the remarks were widely shared.

Mr Yang said while “racism is real deep” he wanted to “believe the best of people – especially if I’ve met and spent time with that person,” in a series of posts addressing the defence of Rogan on Sunday night.

“I think we should have the capacity to forgive people – whether a podcaster or a mayor – if they mess up. Maybe it’s because I mess up too,” wrote Yang, who appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast in February 2019.

Jamie Harrison, the Democratic National Committee chairman, wrote: “Dude … seriously?! You joking right Andrew? Is that now the new defining line … working with folks?!”

“I have no clue whether the guy is a racist or not,” Mr Harrison added in a following tweet of Rogan, “but I know damn well working with and interacting with folks are not the determinants of whether you are racist.”

Mr Rogan took to Instagram on Saturday to offer his “sincerest apologies” for using the “N” word – and which appeared in a video circulated on social media last week by India Arie, a Grammy award winning musician who pulled her work from Spotify.

The singer said the podcaster’s comments had been “problematic and that she felt encouraged to “walk” through a door “opened” by Neil Young, another music artist who pulled their work from Spotify for hosting The Joe Rogan Experience.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in a message to staff on Sunday that Rogan’s racist comments had been “incredibly hurtful” and that the host had been behind the removal of a number of episodes which allegedly contained the remarks. 

Last week, Rogan was subject to complaints and attacks around Covid misinformation aired on his popular podcast, forcing Spotify to promise a Covid warning label for such content.

Mr Elk added that while he “strongly condemn[ed] what Joe has said and I agree with his decision to remove past episodes from our platform, I realise some will want more, and I want to make one point very clear – I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer.”

The Independent revealed last week that Spotify and other online platforms had allowed Covid misinformation to circulate via a number of podcasts, to which the audio platform said “the appropriate enforcement action is taken” when “dangerous” or “deceptive” content about Covid is identified.

Additional reporting by Associated Press.