Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Nils Lofgren, and a number of other musicians have had their songs removed from the streaming platform Spotify, and if Twitter is to be believed, plenty of users have had their Spotify accounts closed as well. The controversy revolves around podcaster Joe Rogan, who was brought exclusively to the platform by Spotify just a few years ago for the sum of $100 million. Rogan, known for his long podcasts with a wide variety of guests from all fields, has in recent months increasingly emerged as a vaccination skeptic who did not want to believe even proven medical experts and virologists and instead invited dubious experts from the opposite side. But now the criticism had become too much, Spotify lost billions of dollars or more than 10 percent of its value, and even Anthony Fauci, the top American virologist, had already criticized Joe Rogan for false information last April. On Instagram, Rogan now publishes a response that included “apologies”.
But are these real apologies? As the author of the (German) book “Sorry Not Sorry: The Art of How Not to Apologize” a found tidbit, and as expected, the apology is not one. But here in order:
First of all, in fact, he apologizes, no, not to the listeners he misinforms, but to Spotify, and that the company has become a target of criticism:
I want to thank Spotify for being so supportive during this time and I’m very sorry that this is happening to them and that they’re taking so much heat from it.Joe Rogan
We know this 13th Artifice: It happened, but I am the real victim from Cologne’s Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, who apologized not to the victims of abuse in his diocese, but to the assembled faithful at midnight mass for having to witness the attacks on him. Here is the Woelki wording:
“What those affected by sexual violence and you have had to endure in the last days and weeks before Christmas in connection with the handling of the expert report on coming to terms with sexualized violence in our archdiocese, what you have had to endure in terms of criticism about it and, in particular, criticism of me as a person – for all that I ask your forgiveness.”Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki
Back to Joe Rogan. To Neil Young and Joni Mitchell he said:
I’m very sorry that they feel that way. I most certainly don’t want that. I’m a Neil Young fan. I’ve always been a Neil Young fan.Joe Rogan
In other words, if they feel that way, then that is actually their problem, not mine. If they didn’t feel that way, then there would actually be no problem at all, and therefore nothing to excuse. Not me, the others are too sensitive here. He also repeated the sentence in a slightly different form:
If I pissed you off, I’m sorry.Joe Rogan
If no one is upset, then there’s nothing to be sorry about, is there? And that’s the 17th Artifice: People are just too sensitive.
There is one more element to this:
‘m a Neil Young fan. I’ve always been a Neil Young fan.Joe Rogan
This is the equivalent of “I also have black/Mexican/Jewish friends”. I can’t be xenophobic at all, because I have foreigners as friends myself. This is summarized in the 14th Artifice: Can’t be at all, because I am also (not) like that.
He also massively weakens his intentions. It was just a harmless podcast with friends and acquaintances.
I’ve never tried to do anything with this podcast other than just talk to people and have interesting conversations. [..] Die Joe Rogan Experience started off is just f–king around with my friends.Joe Rogan
I summarized this under the 8th Artifice: It happened, but it was a misunderstanding.
How sincere he was in his apology can be seen in the fact that he once again justifies the selection of his guests and their opinions, even though they led to his podcast being accused of “spreading dangerous misinformation.” His guests were
…very highly credentialed, very intelligent, very accomplished people.Joe Rogan
And he adds to that:
The problem I have with the term misinformation, especially today, is that many of the things that we thought of as misinformation just a short while ago are now accepted as fact.Joe Rogan
No sign of insight, no sign that he will learn from this and want to do better.
How to apologize properly has been captured by American behavioral scientist David P. Boyd in seven sequential steps, which he calls the art of a public apology:
In the first two steps, one becomes aware that crap has happened and that an apology is due. In the third step, the apology should follow as quickly and immediately as possible, taking responsibility for one’s own actions (or omissions), expressing contrition, promising to make amends, and taking action to avoid such mishaps in the future.
Because this does not appear in Joe Rogan’s “apology”, it is a so-called non-apology. And it is worthless and does not resolve the controversy.
If you want to learn more about the art of apology, here is my (German) book with many practical and humorous examples: