Stop Enabling Barstool's Shit

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Illustration: Jim Cooke (GMG Art)

Barstool Sports, a site for boys who wanna grow up to be Donald Trump Jr., is getting shit on this week. This is a justified shitting-on, because comedian Miel Bredouw called out the site for using a video that she made without giving her credit—in fact, we found they sometimes upload pilfered content via a dummy Twitter account that is not “officially” affiliated with the company and therefore keeps open a tenuous loophole of plausible deniability regarding content theft—and then marshaling their lawyers and Twitter’s eternal obliviousness to assist them in browbeating her into acquiescence.

Bredouw is hardly alone in having her material nicked from Barstool. Twitter user Dan White accused them of stealing his content and, like Bredouw, had the receipts to prove it. Red Sox stadium organist Josh Kantor accused them of lifting audio of his work without his consent, and was of course rewarded with an official Barstool schlub accusing him of just wanting attention and being the REAL asshole. In a perfect world, this kind of aggro shit would get Barstool kicked off of Twitter and would clue other media outlets in, at long last, to the fact that the company is shit and that Barstool’s content—from their sub-Tucker Max postings to their raft of podcasts that exist to supplant Beefer & The Squelch as the go-to sports talk barf-fest for meatheads all around the nation—is the chlamydia of the internet.

But this is not a perfect world. How could it be, if fucking Barstool exists within it? No, this is a poisoned world that actively rewards some of its worst citizens, and so I fully expect the mainstream media to casually ignore these thefts, along with the fact that Barstool’s brand was built on harassing anyone who criticizes the site or just anyone who doesn’t look like fucking Dan Katz. Founder and Gavin McInnes cosplayer Dave Portnoy, who aspires to be Howard Stern but without any of the charm or talent, responded to Bredouw’s accusation first by making sure everyone at the company except for him fell on the sword

I regret our lawyer offering a 50 dollar gift card to our store not because it’s illegal in any manner but it’s just so moronic and makes us look like assholes.


… and then by using more material that wasn’t his:


He also claimed that someone submitted Bredouw’s video TO Barstool, and blamed her for not filing a complaint right away. He then made sure to note that he gets thousands of such submissions because he’s just so damn popular. So there you go. WOOOO. It took mere hours for Portnoy to go from being 0.0001% contrite to going the full Hannity and accusing all his enemies of being needy pussies who are jealous of his success.

This is Barstool. All the time. Every day of the week, the company exists to sic a mob of hateful frogs on anyone who doesn’t buy a cheap Goodell clown shirt. They’re racist as shit. Portnoy treats his own female employees like Lorenzo Lamas analyzing a model’s thigh gap using a laser pointer. He trolled Soulcycle into temporarily having to disable their Instagram account because his then-girlfriend cheated on him with an instructor there. He ambushed an employee and filmed him showering because content. He sucks, both as an artist AND as a person.


Any time you object to this wanton assholery, you immediately get besieged by BarstoolPaddy and 5,000 other aspiring bots online, calling you ugly, urging you to commit suicide, and bitching about “virtue signaling,” a prevailing wingnut insult meant to infer that you’re either faking your virtue and should be an asshole like a real man, or that you DO have virtue and are therefore a pussy. All of Barstool’s grossness, from printing FREE KRAFT shirts after his prostitution sting to actively plagiarizing the work of others, is framed as high-larious satire that only stoolies could possibly be smart and funny enough to understand.

That lunkheaded strategy has, thus far, served them well. As you already know, there’s profit to be had these days in being an unrepentant cock. And Barstool gets away with it because the mainstream media still generally treats Barstool with kid gloves because they’re either too lazy to grasp the depths of Portnoy’s asshattery, or because they fear having a bunch of random assholes sicced onto them. When Daily Beast writer Bobby Silverman rightfully portrayed Barstool as a site that profits off of cyberbullying, he was inevitably cyberbullied at Portnoy’s behest.


Other outlets remain far too kind to that shitbag and his cronies. Our own parent company put Barstool CEO Erika Nardini on TV last year so she could do her worst Sheryl Sandberg impression and spew a bunch of technobabble lies about how Barstool supposedly empowers the people that it routinely harasses. Fast Company, being slow, named Nardini one of the most creative people of 2018, so congrats to the actual creative people she cribbed ideas from. SI’s resident NFL bootlicker Albert Breer routinely sends thirsty tweets to Portnoy, perhaps angling for a fallback job. Portnoy was invited as a VIP to the Daytona 500 drivers’ meeting (the race ended up having its lowest rating in recorded history). Boston magazine gave Portnoy a hearty profile as well, positing him as a bad boy media mogul. Like so many other joints have, that magazine paid cursory attention to the fact that Portnoy is a fucking awful person, but gleefully tempered that by describing Barstool as “one of the most popular and talked-about blogs in the country,” even though this little website—with all its precious, snowflakey virtue signaling OH NO—does far more traffic.

The reality of Barstool and its M.O. hasn’t mattered thus far. Portnoy has prattled on endlessly about his supposed popularity and how much everyone is obsessed with him. As a result, other outlets have taken him at his word and gifted his site a both-sidesy form of evaluation, the same as when they do a 10,000-word deep dive on people who voted for Trump to own the libs.


Barstool doesn’t deserve this. I am clearly biased here, since my colleagues have been publicly harassed by Portnoy: inundated with SHIT from his drooling fanbase, portrayed in racist cartoons on the website itself, and seeing their loved ones tracked down and targeted for hate mail. They’ve had to deal with this garbage because Barstool is fucking puke. You’re not the Fun Police if you identify it as such. After the company’s fallout with ESPN over the annulment of Barstool Van Talk, Portnoy proudly strained to portray the fiasco as further proof of his own renegade status, despite the fact that Barstool is owned by private equity ghoul Peter Chernin (a Hillary donor who was once President and COO of NewsCorp), and despite the fact that they are more than happy to accept all of the perks—i.e. profits—of being their own established, mainstream media concern. Point out that it’s all built on hackery, and Portnoy will just accuse you of doing the shit he already does as a matter of routine.


I look forward to Portnoy reacting to this post with his patented brand of painfully contrived brashness. He’ll clumsily fisk it like a lobotomized Mike Schur. Gonna be a blazing display of comedic originality. He might even remind me that Gawker Media went bankrupt once, which ZOMG! I had no idea! Comparing brand valuations is definitely how you determine who’s a good guy and who isn’t. He might also brag about living rent-free in Deadspin’s head, ironic coming from a guy who gets publicly triggered by every conceivable slight. Someone might even put the Jonah Hill “nah” gif in my feed. I may never recover from that.

This kind of manufactured backlash is all part of Barstool’s business plan. It IS the business plan. It’s a bunch of shitheels claiming it’s them against the world, when the world is in fact set up to aid them in their shitheelery. Believe me, I get the lure of convincing yourself you’re an outsider and that your critics are all wrong. But normal people temper that urge with at least a modicum of self-awareness. Not here. Attacking people helps feed into Barstool’s never-ending and poisonous inferiority complex, and the fact that the company even hinted at possibly doing bad by Bredouw is proof that, deep down, they don’t wanna know what REAL radioactivity feels like, nor how much it costs.


They ought to. If you wanna know why such an inherently worthless enterprise is worth an estimated $100 million according to Bloomberg, it’s because everyone else is either asleep at the switch or happy to profit off a joint built on misery. That’s irresponsible horseshit, and it needs to be called out. From Breer to the Daytona 500, you deserve to be criticized if you support Barstool and/or treat them as anything other than the corporate equivalent of the MAGA hat teen. It’s an enterprise that profits off of manufacturing shitty people and exploiting the built-in fatigue most people have regarding online accusations of joke theft. If you’re kowtowing to Barstool’s smugness out of either ignorance or admiration, you deserve to be responsibly shit on for it. It’s a site for common boys and by common boys, boys who are too hostile and too fucking stupid to ever become real men.