ESPN tried to attract the fans of Barstool Sports without taking on any of the negativity that comes from partnering with a company that makes its employees sign away the right to complain against racism and sexual harassment.
It only took one episode for ESPN President John Skipper to learn how wrong he was, and he cancelled the collaboration, a show called “Barstool Van Talk,” abruptly Monday.
ESPN released the following statement on Twitter:
Statement from ESPN President John Skipper about Barstool Van Talk: pic.twitter.com/ysgSKDvmjx
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) October 23, 2017
Couldn’t they see this coming?
If they didn’t, it’s hard to see how. ESPN tried to have the show without any Barstool Sports logos or branding associated with it, but Barstool president Dave Portnoy insisted.
It surely would have made it more difficult for ESPN to take moral stances against its own personalities when working with a company like Barstool that posts items such as the “Smokeshow of the Day” featuring women in bathing suits, or “Grading the Newest Sex Scandal Teacher” in which a writer evaluates pictures of women who have sex with minor students and assigns grades to their looks.
There are people who find what Barstool Sports does to be offensive, but Barstool can never be accused of hiding what they’re about.
Even some of ESPN’s own employees had a problem working with Barstool.
Sam Ponder, an ESPN host, reminded the public of the time Barstool personalities berated her with a vulgar and sexist rant.
Barstool’s president responds
Portnoy published a video on Barstool Sports giving his reaction to the cancellation of the show. He showed some level of understanding about the situation.
“I actually get why ESPN cancelled the show,” Portnoy said. “The executives there were put in a box. Sam Ponder, I’m not really even mad about her tweet. We attacked her, and she waited three years to drop revenge on our head the night before.
“This is exactly why Barstool has to exist. Because we’re one of the few places, maybe the only place, on the internet where we don’t let agendas dictate what we do.”
Portnoy went on to say that ESPN needed Barstool more than Barstool needed ESPN, and that ESPN’s Disney ties forced the company to have to cater to the complaints of the “loud minority.”