Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy announced today that his website’s comments section, long one of the most vile places on the internet, has been shuttered “until further notice.” His reasoning was that the biggest fans of the site were just too racist:
So I’ve noticed the comment section which I fucking despise and have despised for a long time is getting worse and worse. We try to stop it. We try to ban people. We can’t stay ahead of it. I’m talking N bombs in every post. The last post I wrote there was a comment that said “I hope N bomb blow their heads off with a gun?” Are you serious? Well I’ve had enough. I’ve made the decision to shut it down effective immediately until we can regain control of it. And if we never bring it back I don’t care. I don’t care if you hate me, hate Barstool, etc. I don’t care. The racist shit has to stop. If we can’t stop it I’ll just eliminate it and that’s exactly what I just did. People will blame Erika, Chernin etc. Guess what they wanted to keep it and fix it. I’m told it will cost our company money with clicks. Guess what? I don’t care. It’s trash. The people in it are trash. Go read some other site. Don’t care. Bye losers.
If Portnoy’s concerned that there are bigoted freaks who read and comment on his site, then he should know that shuttering the comment section isn’t a real solution to the problem. A more constructive approach might be to ask himself why those bigoted freaks became such dedicated fans in the first place, and how the site might be able to change itself in order to drive them away. With just a little critical thinking, it wouldn’t seem like such a shock that Barstool—which is littered with horny cheesecake posts; runs a feature called “Grading the Newest Sex Scandal Teacher”; employs this nutjob and this dipshit and these clowns; considers this headline a sufficient apology for an employee who wore blackface; and is run by a frequent Tucker Carlson guest who routinely harasses anyone who dares to criticize him or the site—attracts the worst sort of readers.
Portnoy wrote that the comment section is something he has “despised for a long time,” which raises the question of why he waited for so long to get rid of it. The answer is that Barstool now has certain level of mainstream respectability to maintain, and it’s bad for business to have every post come with a reminder of how appealing the site is to racists and sexists. Barstool Sports spent years relying on those readers and their loyalty, and now it wants to pretend they don’t exist at all.