If you’re under the age of 30, chances are you’ve heard of Barstool Sports. Barstool is a sports and pop culture blog with a variety of mediums, including podcasts like Call Her Daddy and social media pages for various colleges. Despite its popularity, Barstool has had its fair share of scandals and controversies over the years that have made it difficult for me to be a fan.
Many people who love the company are loyal supporters of its founder, Dave Portnoy. I don’t take much of a liking to his personality, mostly because of his past behavior. Portnoy has been called out several times for racist statements he’s made on the Barstool Rundown podcast. When Barstool clips resurfaced of him using the n-word, making offensive comments about Colin Kaepernick and using offensive terminology to refer to Muslims, Portnoy seemingly brushed the criticism off.
In Portnoy’s eyes, the clips were nothing more than comedic clips that were “taken out of context.” I have a hard time understanding what context could make comments like “anybody who disagrees with me saying Kaepernick looks like Bin Laden is a moron” and “I didn’t know he was Black…I don’t hate him — I hated him a lot more when I thought he was a terrorist” funny. Portnoy’s racism has had wide-reaching consequences for those within the company.
Barstool’s Black employees were not immune from these attacks. Portnoy attacked hires like Brandon Newman — a Black basketball player and an employee at the time — by saying he was only brought on because “we want diversity” (the two later engaged in a fiery Twitter war which ended in Portnoy telling Newman, “If you think I’m racist, quit and go find a better opportunity”). He even went as far as saying that diversifying their staff meant they had to overlook “more talented” white applicants. And it isn’t like white staff members are eager to defend their colleagues or stand up to Portnoy. Almost every instance listed above took place when Portnoy was having discussions with white employees who still work for the company today.
In addition to his racist remarks, Portnoy came under fire for a comment on the site about sexual assault for saying women who are size sixes and wear skinny jeans “kinda deserve to be raped” (he refused to apologize for that “joke” as well). This misogynistic tone is evident throughout their company, primarily on their infamous Call Her Daddy podcast, a show hosted by Alexandra Cooper. The show claims to be an empowering podcast for women to talk about and receive advice for their relationships and hookups. But it’s obvious that the show isn’t written for women. I personally find the podcast to be a reinforcement of Barstool’s misogyny and toxic masculinity.
Barstool makes content that’s geared toward college-aged students, but their main audience tends to be white fraternity members. I’ve found that some of these men have a huge fetish for mainstream, progressive movements. It’s not abnormal to see men who date self-proclaimed “liberal” women when they don’t ascribe to the same ideology. Call Her Daddy seemingly feeds into that fetish by giving advice for women to be liberated within the confines of the male experience. The content centers around empowerment with the end goal of male interaction; women who appear on the show tend to have a large male following. Much of that following utilizes their presence to demean other women. To be clear, how these women are perceived is not their fault or their responsibility. But when the only topics that the platform uplifts are ones that men have expressed interest in, it becomes a podcast meant to fulfill men’s desires.
Male guests on the show reinforce harmful attitudes towards women. For example, Harry Jowsey came on the show and discussed an experience where a woman he was involved with keyed his car because of something he did to her (he didn’t share what exactly). Cooper responded by calling it an intense decision. When Jowsey shared that he and the woman weren’t dating, Cooper asked, “Is she well in the head?” The woman’s reaction may have been over the top, but Jowsey and Cooper seemingly breezed past Jowsey’s role in the situation, opting to villainize and gaslight the woman.
In my opinion, Barstool Sports emulates the toxicity of patriarchy in every way possible. They hold no respect for Black and brown communities, and have no intention of elevating women that aren’t in their frame of reference. Clearly Barstool is for someone, just not me.
By Aminah Jenkins, Staff Writer