Spotify’s Joe Rogan has repeatedly and baselessly claimed that the January 6 insurrection was fueled in part by FBI agents acting as so-called “agent provocateurs” who were “in the audience calling for people to go into the Capitol.” Rogan promoted this conspiracy theory at least five times in the past year on his Spotify-exclusive podcast, which was the most popular podcast on the platform in 2020 and 2021.
There is no evidence to support the conspiracy theory that the attack on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, was incited by FBI agents. These baseless claims originated with the right-wing group Stop Hate, which has ties to the violent far-right group the Proud Boys and the “Stop the Steal” campaign that helped incite the insurrection.
At the center of the conspiracy theory is Ray Epps — a Trump supporter from Arizona who was a member of the January 6 crowd and was filmed on January 5, 2021, urging Trump supporters to enter the Capitol. Prominent right-wing figures including Fox host Tucker Carlson and former President Donald Trump have pushed the unsubstantiated claim that Epps was a federal informant seeking to incite the insurrection.
The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack will have its next and potentially final public hearing on October 13 before the release of a final report. The select committee held eight hearings in June and July that revealed details about the attack, including Trump’s “complete dereliction of duty” as a violent mob stormed the Capitol.
Rogan claimed there were “clear agent provocateurs in the audience calling for people to go into the Capitol”
Rogan has promoted or outright endorsed the conspiracy theory that the January 6 insurrection was a false flag operation at least five times on his Spotify podcast:
- On February 19, Rogan claimed the crowd at the Capitol included people working within “intelligence agencies” with a “vested interest in this going sideways.” He added that the insurrection was “a tool to sort of label the administration as being even more awful than they already thought it was.”
- On January 21, Rogan said, “The real question too is how much manipulation was being done by federal agents in the January 6 event. Did they engineer people going into the Capitol? Did they encourage them?” He continued, “Now, if somebody wanted to disparage a political party or to maybe have some sort of a justification for getting some influential person like Donald Trump offline, that would be the way they would do it.”
- On January 11, Rogan stated, “I also think there was, without a doubt, agent provocateurs from the federal government that encouraged people to go into the federal building. In the Capitol building.”
- On January 1, Rogan agreed that Epps was an “agent provocateur.” He also claimed, “January 6 was embarrassing. It was pathetic. It was confusing to me because there's parts of it that confused me. The parts where you have these clear agent provocateurs in the audience calling for people to go into the Capitol.”
- On December 7, 2021, Rogan said: “Clearly, there's a lot of people that were involved in January 6 that were out of their fucking mind and really did think that they were going to take over the government. … They really did think that Donald Trump was truly the president and they were QAnon all the way, and they really thought that. But clearly, there are some feds involved in that. They were manipulating those people. Clearly.”
Rogan has used his podcast to broadcast conspiracy theories, COVID-19 misinformation, and anti-trans rhetoric to millions of listeners across the globe
Rogan has faced widespread backlash for spreading bigotry, medical misinformation, and right-wing falsehoods on his Spotify podcast. But Spotify has determined that its platform rules do not prohibit the numerous dangerous and unfounded claims spread on The Joe Rogan Experience.
For example, Rogan has repeatedly suggested that social acceptance of trans people is a sign of “civilizations collapsing,” falsely asserted that mRNA coronavirus vaccines are “really gene therapy,” and baselessly suggested that a rally by the white nationalist group Patriot Front was “fake” and put on by the “feds.”
What’s more, Rogan’s podcast is broadcast to millions of people. As The Washington Post noted in a May 2021 report, Rogan has “an estimated 11 million listeners per episode" and "reaches nearly four times as many people as prime-time cable hosts such as Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.”