Former Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang has apologized for saying that podcast host Joe Rogan isn’t racist because he works with Black people.
Yang, who has since deleted the tweet, stepped into the furor surrounding the embattled Spotify host over the weekend when Rogan and the company were compelled to address a compilation video showing Rogan repeatedly using the N-word on “The Joe Rogan Experience.”
The politician defended Rogan Sunday by tweeting: “I don’t think Joe Rogan is a racist — the man interacts with and works with black people literally all of the time.”
Yang, who appeared on “The Joe Rogan Experience” in February 2019, added: “Do I know black friends of Joe’s who would swear by him? Yes I do.”
But the backlash came quickly, and Yang’s reasoning was called out by many, including Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison.
Yang, the Forward Party founder who also ran for mayor of New York City, backtracked Sunday with a new thread: “I like to believe the best of people – especially if I’ve met and spent time with that person. Sometimes it makes me miss something. 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.”
He added that “racism is real, deep, corrosive and even lethal,” admitting, “I made a mistake in an earlier tweet tonight that downplayed these realities.”
Yang said he deleted the tweet because it was “wrong-headed.”
“It also hurt people, which is never my intent. I’m sorry. I’m learning and appreciate those who reached out to express their feelings.”
Rogan also apologized on Saturday for using the racial slur but said that he hasn’t used it in years. He said that he “never used it to be racist” and called his behavior “the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.”
The former sports commentator has been at the center of a raging debate over spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines — as well as perpetuating racist commentary. Objections to his show, Spotify’s most popular podcast, resulted in a high-profile boycott led by musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.
Musician India Arie, who shared the compilation video over the weekend, previously cited Rogan’s racist remarks as her reason for leaving the platform. Entertainer Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson also pulled his earlier support for Rogan over the video.
In a memo to Spotify employees Sunday, CEO Daniel Ek said that the company had discussed with Rogan his history of using “some racially insensitive language” on “The Joe Rogan Experience,” which resulted in Rogan choosing to remove episodes from the streaming service last week.
Ek said that while he condemns what Rogan said, he does “not believe that silencing Joe is the answer.”