The podcast host Joe Rogan has offered “sincere and humble apologies” after footage emerged of him repeatedly using the N-word on his hit show.
The comedian, 54, who has a lucrative deal with the streaming giant Spotify, said it was the “most regretful and shameful thing” he has ever had to speak about, but stressed the clips were “taken out of context”.
Rogan has come under fire recently for sharing coronavirus misinformation on his hugely popular podcast The Joe Rogan Experience.
Prominent musicians including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell have withdrawn their music from the service over its decision to continue hosting the show, which was reportedly acquired for more than $100m (£77m) in 2020.
The musician India Arie has also announced she would leave the streaming service in protest, saying she objected to Rogan’s “language around race”.
She shared an edited compilation of clips of Rogan using the N-word more than 20 times on her Instagram account.
Addressing the montage in a video posted on his own Instagram account, Rogan said: “I’m making this video to talk about the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.
“There’s a video that’s out, that’s a compilation of me saying the N-word. It’s a video that’s made of clips taken out of context of me of … 12 years of conversations on my podcast, and it’s all smushed together, and it looks fuckin’ horrible, even to me.
“Now 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, but for a long time, when I would bring that word up, like if it would come up in conversation, instead of saying ‘the N-word’, I would just say the word.
“I thought as long as it was in context, people would understand what I was doing.”
Rogan said in some of the clips in the compilation he was quoting other people or referring to the title of a Richard Pryor comedy album, and in another instance he is discussing how it is “an unusual word”, adding: “It’s a word where only one group of people is allowed to use it, they can use in so many different ways. But it’s not my word to use, I’m well aware of that now.”
Rogan also addressed a clip that Arie shared of him telling an anecdote in which he appeared to compare being around black people with the film Planet of the Apes.
He said: “I was telling a story in the podcast about how me and my friend Tommy and his girlfriend, we got really high, we’re in Philadelphia, and we went to go see Planet of the Apes.
“We didn’t know where we were going, we just got dropped off by a cab, and we got dropped off in this all-black neighbourhood.
“And I was trying to make the story entertaining and I said: ‘We got out, and it was like we were in Africa, like we were in Planet of the Apes.’
“I did not, nor would I ever, say that black people are apes, but it sure fuckin’ sounded like that.
“And I immediately afterwards said: ‘That’s a racist thing to say.’”
Rogan said he had deleted the podcast and admitted it was “an idiotic thing to say”, adding: “I was just trying to be entertaining. I certainly wasn’t trying to be racist, and I certainly would never want to offend someone for entertainment with something as stupid as racism.”
He added: “My sincere and humble apologies. I wish there was more that I could say.”
Rogan has previously attracted controversy for suggesting young and healthy should not get vaccinated.
Spotify has quietly been removing episodes of Rogan’s podcast, of which there are over 1,500, from the platform, according to JRE Missing, a web-tool tracking removed episodes. Spotify removed over 70 episodes of the show on Saturday, though the company has not commented on the removals.
It is not the first time Spotify has removed episodes of the podcast. Last year, when Rogan first signed his deal with Spotify, he alluded to a batch of about 40 episodes that the platform removed, including some featuring far-right activists like Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos.
“There were a few episodes they didn’t want on their platform,” he told a guest last spring. “I was like ‘OK, I don’t care.’”
The Press Association contributed to this report