RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL -For Brazil’s conservative President Jair Bolsonaro, freedom and freedom of expression are among the highest values of a democratic society.
Read also: Check out our coverage on curated alternative narratives
He posted a tweet in English in support of popular American podcaster Joe Rogan, at the center of a controversy after he was accused of spreading misinformation about Covid on Sweden-based Spotify, one of the world’s largest music streaming companies.
– I'm not sure what @joerogan thinks about me or about my government, but it doesn't matter. If freedom of speech means anything, it means that people should be free to say what they think, no matter if they agree or disagree with us. Stand your ground! Hugs from Brazil. 👍
— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) February 3, 2022
“Stand your ground! Hugs from Brazil” concluded the president, who has 7.2 million followers on Twitter and has been censored himself in several social networks for what is called in “new speech” ‘spreading false information about the pandemic’ in his country, meaning in “old speech”, being censored for not agreeing with the official Covid narrative.
But the longer the pandemic continues, and the less the official narrative succeeds in silencing the growing number of dissenting scientists, the more likely it becomes that Bolsonaro could end up being one of the few NOT spreading misinformation about the coronavirus in Brazil. A development that, should it occur, could not be more ironic.
Watch what well-known American journalist, author, and lawyer Glenn Greenwald has to say about the case.
WHO IS JOE ROGAN
Rogan, 54, has a popular podcast on the Spotify platform and stands accused by representatives of the official Covid narrative of ‘discouraging young people from getting vaccinated and promoting the use of an unauthorized treatment against the coronavirus’.
Joe Rogan may be the most popular broadcaster in the English-speaking world. Every episode of his podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience” reaches about 11 million people, and some of the episodes get an audience many times that. How many people is that? It’s a lot.
For perspective, CNN’s highest-rated show often has as little as over 700,000 viewers total. His show covers everything: comedy, science, nutrition, the paranormal, recreational drug use, exercise, mixed martial arts, music, Hollywood, and a vast range of other topics, often with guests you’ve never heard of.
And then it happened: Rogan dared to invite dissenting scientists to his show, who were allowed to speak freely about how they sees the Covid pandemic. Something quite normal…. before the pandemic. The podcast has been taken down, so unfortunately we can not show it to you.
A fundamental law of good journalism has always been to listen to all sides of the story and provide a platform for a wide range of views, especially when the speakers are senior scholars. But Covid has changed all that.
Today, however, media must spread the opinion of those in power, and if they do not, they are accused of spreading ‘misinformation’. Misinformation/disinformation is labeled any narrative that the government does not endorse, even if science does support it.
The controversy started when American-Canadian musician Neil Young asked to remove his songs from Spotify in protest of Rogan’s content on the platform.
Singer Joni Mitchell also announced the removal of her music for the same reason.
Following the criticism, Spotify announced that it will add a warning for listeners of podcasts that address covid-19, directing them to content with factual information about the pandemic, among other measures to combat misinformation.
But it kept Rogan’s space on its platform, with whom it has a US$100 million exclusivity agreement.