Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said podcast star Joe Rogan “shouldn’t have apologized” for repeatedly using a racist slur, comparing a Black neighborhood to “Planet of the Apes” and spreading coronavirus misinformation on his show “The Joe Rogan Experience.”
DeSantis, weighing in on the controversy in an interview with Fox News on Monday, pointed a finger at “the left,” claiming those with opposing political opinions want to bring Rogan down because of his ability to “reach so many people.”
“I think the left fear the fact that he can reach so many people, and so they’re out to destroy him,” said DeSantis, who has risen to GOP prominence with his rejection of pandemic public safety measures. “But what I would say is don’t give an inch. Do not apologize. Do not kowtow to the mob. Stand up and tell them to pound sand. If you do that, there’s really nothing that they’re able to do to you. The only way they have power is if you let them get your goat.”
DeSantis’ defense of Rogan came the same day that former President Donald Trump offered the podcaster similar advice amid a growing outcry against streaming platform Spotify. Music icons Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, among other artists, pulled their music catalogs off Spotify rather than continue to share the platform with Rogan.
“Joe, just go about what you do so well and don’t let them make you look weak and frightened,” Trump said in a statement.
DeSantis said he doesn’t listen to Rogan’s show, but believes the podcast’s promotion of anti-vaccine guests is “just bringing opposing views. He’s letting people decide.”
Science and medical experts have argued that Rogan’s podcast promotes false information with one-sided takes that jeopardize public health and damage public trust in science and medical professionals.
Rogan issued an apology on Instagram Saturday for his racist language, calling it “regretful” and “shameful,” but claimed he never used the N-word in a racist way.
“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 fucked up and I clearly have fucked up,” he said.
He also addressed his comparison of a Black neighborhood with the movie “Planet of the Apes” when he said he went to see the film and there were no other white people in the audience.
“We walked into ‘Planet of the Apes.’ We walked into Africa, dude. We walked in the door and there were no white people. There was no white people. ‘Planet of the Apes’ didn’t take place in Africa. That was a racist thing for me to say,” Rogan said on his program in 2013.
Rogan denied he meant to compare Black people with apes.
“I did not nor would I ever say that Black people are apes, but it sure fucking sounded like that,” he said Saturday. “I immediately afterwards said that’s a racist thing to say, ‘Planet of the Apes’ wasn’t even in Africa, I was just saying there was a lot of Black people there.”