Joe Rogan apologized for repeatedly saying the n-word on his podcast for years, calling it the "most regretful and shameful thing that I've ever had to talk about publicly," as Spotify quietly deleted at least 70 of his episodes.
Rogan, whose podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, has recently received increased scrutiny over his spread of misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines, was prompted to issue the apology Saturday after a video surfaced online with him repeatedly using the racial slur on air on nearly 20 different occasions.
In the video posted on his Instagram account, Rogan said the video clip was "taken out of context" and included conversations that he's had on the podcast over the course of 12 years.
"It's all smushed together and it looks fucking horrible, even to me," he said. "I know that to most people, there's no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word, never mind publicly on a podcast, and I agree with that now. I haven't said it in years."
His apology comes as Spotify users noticed that more than 70 episodes of Rogan's podcast had been quietly deleted, but neither Rogan nor Spotify has offered an explanation as to why.
Rolling Stone reported that many of the deleted episodes appeared to include the use of racial slurs.
Representatives for Spotify, Joe Rogan, and Rogan's podcast did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' requests for comment or questions about the deleted episodes.
Less than a week earlier, the popular podcast host said in another video that he was sorry for pissing people off after he faced increasing criticism for spreading false information on COVID-19 and vaccines. Rogan has said he would try to have guests "with differing opinions" on the show in response, and Spotify has said it would add warning labels to some of the episodes that discuss the worldwide pandemic that has claimed more than 900,000 lives in the US.
A growing cohort of influential musicians, including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, have since removed their music from the streaming service in protest of Rogan, and Spotify lost more than $2 billion in value during the controversy before rebounding earlier this week.
However, Gizmodo reported that Spotify has not deleted the controversial episodes related to COVID misinformation, specifically one that features Robert Malone, a scientist who was banned from Twitter for violating the platform's COVID-19 misinformation policy.
Last year, it was reported that Spotify had removed around 40 episodes of Rogan's podcast, including those that featured controversial guests, conspiracy theorists, and scientific misinformation.
In his apology video Saturday, Rogan also noted that he deleted an 11-year-old episode in which he recounted a story of getting high with a friend and going to see the movie Planet of the Apes in a Black neighborhood in Philadelphia.
In the episode, Rogan said, he commented that while walking out of the cab, he compared the neighborhood to it being "like Africa" or like being in Planet of the Apes.
"I did not, nor would I ever, say that Black people are apes, but it sure fucking sounded like that, and I immediately afterward said, 'That's a racist thing to say. Planet of the Apes wasn't even in Africa,'" Rogan said. "It wasn't a racist story, but it sounded horrible."
Rogan said he deleted the episode, but clips of it have resurfaced online.
"I never thought it would be taken out of context and put in a video like that. Now that it is, holy shit, it looks bad," he said.
It's unclear when Rogan last used the racial slur on his podcast. Clips in the video posted online show him in different settings during the 12-year period. Some of the instances show him saying the word on his current set, where he sits in front of a brick wall with a US flag behind him.
Rogan tried to explain his use of the n-word by saying that he used it when "it would come up in conversation."
That included discussions such as when comedian Redd Foxx used the word in the '70s, when it was used as a title for a Richard Pryor album, or when Quentin Tarantino used it in his films.
"It's a word where only one group of people is allowed to use it, and they can use it in so many ways," Rogan said. "A Black person can use it and it can be a punchline, it can be a term of endearment, it can be a lyric to a rap song, it can be a positive affirmation. It's a very unusual word, but it's not my word to use."
Rogan said he is now aware that his use of the word was wrong.
"I never used it to be racist, because I'm not racist," he said. "But whenever you're in a situation where you have to say, 'I'm not racist,' you fucked up. And I clearly fucked up."