Andrew Yang attempted to backtrack on an earlier Monday tweet that said popular podcast host Joe Rogan, who is facing a storm of controversy, isn’t racist because he works with Black people.
“I don’t think Joe Rogan is a racist — the man interacts with and works with black people literally all of the time,” the former Democratic presidential candidate tweeted on Sunday.
“Do I know black friends of Joe’s who would swear by him? Yes I do,” added Yang, who previously appeared on “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast in 2019 during his campaign for president, The Hill reported.
In a series of follow-up posts explaining his defense of Rogan, Yang said, “Racism is real deep,” but that he wanted to “believe the best of people – especially if I’ve met and spent time with that person.”
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“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,” Yang continued.
While the original tweet has since been deleted, screenshots were widely shared and sparked outrage.
“Dude… seriously?! You joking right Andrew? Is that now the new defining line… working with folks?!” Jamie Harrison, the Democratic National Committee chairman, responded.
Yang’s tweet comes as Rogan publicly apologized on Saturday for repeatedly using racial slurs on his podcast, brought to light by clips compiled into a single video uploaded, and since deleted, to Instagram by musician India Arie. Rogan has also faced heavy criticism for COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation on his program.
In protest, Grammy award-winning singer-songwriters Neil Young, Graham Nash and Arie have consequently pulled their work from Spotify, which hosts “The Joe Rogan Experience.”
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in a company-wide email on Sunday that Rogan’s use of the N-word was “incredibly hurtful,” but said he did “not believe that silencing Joe is the answer.”
“We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but canceling voices is a slippery slope,” Ek said. “Looking at the issue more broadly, it’s critical thinking and open debate that powers real and necessary progress.”
The company has since taken down more than 70 episodes of the “The Joe Rogan Experience” over the weekend, but it is unclear if they were removed because of his use of a racial slur, according to Variety.