I am going to admit my bias right from the start - I am a big fan of Dave Portnoy and Barstool Sports. Barstool is one of the few remaining respites on the internet where one can go and enjoy a laugh that's not watered down or wedged into a narrative. They are apolitical (*gasp*) and funny to be funny and to entertain. As Deadspin and other early internet favorites have debased from what made them special, Barstool has refused to buckle to the woke scolding of our media betters.
From it's evolution from a paper, to a blog, to a sports media empire, the website, and it's founder, has adhered to the principle that "it's a joke, stop taking everything so seriously." This is REFRESHING! What the ivory tower types seem to miss (or intentionally ignore in effort to push an agenda) is people are capable of laughing at themselves or others without taking everything LITERALLY. I'd wager that the majority of Barstool's audience wouldn't remain loyal to the brand if they thought Portnoy was being serious in the way he makes fun of others (including his staff).
The problem for Barstool is that the media will NOT stop taking everything so seriously.
As Barstool's (and Portnoy's) star has continued to soar, the media hit pieces have as well. One of the more comical smears from recent memory, came last year from HBO Sports, wherein Soledad O'Brien laid out the case that Barstool was a danger to women (it's not, but that's a much longer discussion for another day). In a post-segment interview with O'Brien, Bryant Gumbel asked her if reporting on Barstool was the "most unpleasant" story she had ever worked on. Barstool's own (and closet minion) Jack MacGuire highlighted the absurdity of such a question perfectly here:
You don't have to like Barstool Sports, but you also don't have to ascribe insane bad faith motives to them and smear them in hopes you can scare away new consumers either. Barstool, in my opinion, is so popular with its audience because they represent the humor and voice of the "common man." And in the increasingly sanitized media landscape, that's a valuable thing to many.
Now that we've laid the ground work for what Barstool is and where I stand on the company, lets review what Dave Portnoy has been up to the last few days (aside from live streaming his daily adventures in day trading, doing epic unboxing videos, and co-hosting a daily radio show on Sirius XM)
Two days ago, Portnoy posted the below video to his personal twitter feed. In the video, which now has over 6.5 MILLION views, Portnoy shared the frustration of many Americans with the prolonged shutdown and the perceived goal post shifting of some in power:
This led to Forbes "fact checking" Portnoy's video rant on their website, and article of which Portnoy claimed he was only contacted for comment on AFTER Forbes had published.
It also led to Portnoy appearing Tucker Carlson's show (where he is a recurring guest) to discuss his video, winning a charity auction and the opportunity to watch Monday Night Football with Roger Goodell (with whom Portnoy has legendarily feuded with), and whether or not we're going to see sports any time soon.
Portnoy, for his part, did NOT shy away from this challenge.
Yes, it appears that this is Dave Portnoy's world and we're just along for the ride. Viva.