On Friday, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy posted a three-part, 20-minute interview with President Donald Trump from the White House Rose Garden.
Despite its length, the interview itself wasn’t exactly hard-hitting, with Portnoy and Trump both playing to their bases by filing through the various topics upon which they find common ground: mainstream media is fake news, coronavirus isn’t as bad as you think it is, Twitter, etc.
“You know what I find? It’s not the tweets, it’s the retweets that get you in trouble,” Trump said. “You see something that looks good, and you don’t investigate it. You don’t look at what’s on the helmet exactly, right, which is in miniature, and you don’t blow it up. But I have found almost always it’s the retweets that get you in trouble.”
As Barstool is wont to do, they’re already turning the controversial interview into even more content, an ouroboros of increasingly meta takes that ultimately stand for nothing besides racking up likes and pageviews. Just as Barstool gathered their Black talent for a podcast titled N.I.G.G.E.R. to respond to footage of Portnoy using the n-word (and then posted a separate blog by PFT Commenter scolding Barstool for putting its minority employees in that situation), Dan “Big Cat” Katz — one of Barstool’s most prominent employees — criticized Portnoy and the site’s c-suite on his radio show.
“It’s been a tough 12 hours or whatever it’s been trying to understand where I fit in now,” Katz said. “There’s only two explanations. One is they didn’t want to talk to me because I would probably be the only dissenting view, which means that when there’s tough decisions to be made and Dan might disagree we just won’t ask him so we don’t have to hear his view. That means my opinion doesn’t matter. Or two, they just said straight up his opinion doesn’t matter. Either way, my opinion does not matter at this company the way I thought it did 12 hours ago.”
“Because you can’t pretend now! You can’t pretend ‘We don’t do politics.’ When you interview the president in an election year, four months before the election, you can’t say ‘We don’t do politics and we stay straight down the middle.’ It’s impossible. That ship sails.”
Of course, Katz is just as implicit in this whole charade as Portnoy. For starters, he isn’t going to leave Barstool — his faux outrage is a vehicle that exists to attract more eyeballs to Barstool, just like everything they do. What’s more, while Katz sounds genuinely frustrated, the reason that he’s frustrated is a joke: Katz is really just upset that his boss didn’t listen to him. The big deal isn’t that Portnoy turned his putatively apolitical website into a soapbox for the country’s highest-ranking political official; the big deal is that Portnoy didn’t ask one of his minions before he did.
By this time tomorrow, Portnoy will almost certainly post several “emergency press conferences” responding to blogs responding to earlier “emergency press conferences” in order to drum up a frenzy around the website. None of it will be worth your time.
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