Clay Travis, a regular Fox News guest and the founder of Fox’s recently acquired sports website Outkick, has been using his supposed sports programs to rehash right-wing narratives on COVID-19, race and crime, and conservative censorship.
Since Outkick was purchased by Fox in 2021, it has more than doubled its viewership. As the network has grown, it has become more like an offspring of Fox News than a sports platform, emphasizing and rehashing Fox's right-wing narratives even when they're unrelated to athletics.
Travis hosts three shows, Outkick The Show with Clay Travis, Wins & Losses, and The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show. While the latter is correctly labeled political, his other two shows are categorized under sports on both Apple Podcasts and iHeartPodcasts.
Travis has a history of drawing attention to himself via vulgar stunts and spreading conspiracy theories, especially about COVID-19. He often brags about making inflammatory and sexist remarks, claiming they grow his platform.
Outkick The Show is a daily news recap where Travis talks about current events in news and sports. He has repeatedly used this show to spread anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, downplay racism involved in police murders such as the killing of Tyre Nichols, and promote other right-wing non-sports stories.
The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show frequently features similar content, with Travis and fellow Fox News regular Buck Sexton spouting conservative talking points about President Joe Biden and the pandemic. Their rhetoric often mimics commentary on Fox.
Travis also runs an interview podcast, Wins & Losses, where he provides a safe space for conservative guests who share his conspiratorial views on the pandemic and supposed social media bias against conservatives. As of this writing, Apple Podcasts currently labels the show as a “sports” podcast even though only five of the most recent 20 episodes featured guests related to sports. 15 of the 20 most recent episodes included conservative media figures, like anti-vax conspiracy theorist Alex Berenson and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Although they are published under the seemingly nonpartisan banner of sports commentary, Travis’ programs are just poorly disguised right-wing political programming.
Travis heavily promoted coronavirus conspiracy theories
Travis is a prolific purveyor of coronavirus misinformation. He has downplayed the severity of COVID-19, insisted effective precautions such as masks do nothing, and fearmongered about and denied the efficacy of vaccines.
Notably, Travis supported the baseless anti-vaccine conspiracy theory that there is an increase in cardiovascular complications in athletes tied to the COVID-19 vaccine. He doubled down on this after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed during a game. Travis has pushed multiple COVID-19 conspiracy theories on his sports shows, even when they don’t involve athletes:
- Travis accused MSNBC of covering up evidence that COVID-19 vaccines increased the number of myocarditis cases after MSNBC host Yasmin Vossoughian revealed she had myocarditis. He said, “Isn't it amazing how many people out there are refusing to acknowledge that the COVID shot might in any way have massively increased the number of people that are having heart-related issues who are otherwise extremely healthy?” While the mRNA vaccines do slightly increase the risk for myocarditis, actually getting COVID-19 puts patients at a much higher risk for the condition than any vaccine. [Outkick, Outkick The Show, 1/31/2023]
- Travis deemed it “very valid” to question whether the COVID-19 vaccine was responsible for Damar Hamlin’s collapse. He said, “This is a fair question now – was the COVID shot in any way involved? We know that the COVID shot has created myocarditis in some individuals. Did Damar Hamlin get the COVID shot? Was it involved in any way in his issue on the football field? All of those, very valid questions.” [Outkick, Outkick the Show, 1/6/2023]
- Travis said he was “troubled by people coming out and saying you can’t ask about whether the COVID shot might’ve been involved in any way in his [Hamlin’s] heart-related condition.” [Outkick, Outkick The Show, 1/24/2023]
- Travis claimed all COVID-19 vaccines do not work. According to him, “Not only do the shots not work, I think they actually make you more likely to get COVID.” [Outkick, Outkick The Show, 2/2/2023]
- Travis claimed that a new study proved masking did not work against coronavirus and those who wore protective face coverings during the height of the pandemic were “idiots”. Travis was cherry picking information as numerous studies disprove this claim. While mocking masking against COVID-19, Travis remarked, “All of it was cosmetic theater for idiots." [Outkick, Outkick The Show, 2/2/2023]
- Travis hosted COVID-19 conspiracy theorist Alex Berenson who downplayed the number of virus deaths in America and claimed lockdowns were purely political. Berenson claimed the United States higher than average COVID-19 deaths were a result of America being a “big country” and said, “We get big numbers when we have big countries.” He claimed, “This is about people who want us to be in lockdown. They want to push us there.” [iHeartPodcasts, Wins & Losses, 8/17/2022]
Travis downplayed police brutality against the Black community and accused media of only covering crime when perpetrators are white
After the Memphis police department released body cam footage of the department’s SCORPION unit fatally beating Tyre Nichols on January 7, Travis repeatedly pushed the debunked narrative that “Black-on-black crime” is ignored in favor of hate crime coverage, a Fox News-esque narrative that is eerily similar to those espoused by hate groups to justify their bigotry by mischaracterizing Black communities as more prone to violence.
- Travis claimed the Black Lives Matter movement focuses purely on violent acts done by white people against Black people. Travis stated, “Black Lives Matter isn’t about Black lives at all. Black Lives Matter is only about the person who takes the Black life. It’s really Black Lives Matter in parenthetical, so long as a white person is involved in taking the Black life.” [Outkick, Outkick The Show, 1/30/2023]
- Travis claimed coverage of Tyre Nichols’ killing was fading because the officers involved were also Black. Travis said that news was, “almost vanishing instantly” because it involved Black police officers. [Outkick, Outkick the Show, 1/30/2023]
- Travis accused MSNBC and CNN of only covering violence when there's racism involved, and falsely claimed the networks did not cover the Monterey Park shooting. He stated, “Soon as it becomes clear that the shooter was an Asian man killing Asian people, nobody cares.” Travis attacked MSNBC and CNN, stating the networks only care about crime “when a white guy does it. Non-white guy commits a crime, [coverage] vanishes almost overnight.” [Outkick, Outkick The Show, 1/23/2023]
- Travis attacked Reverend Al Sharpton for his eulogy at Tyre Nichols’ funeral, which placed attention on the role of racism in Nichols murder. Travis called Sharpton a “Race Hustler.” He then falsely claimed a disproportionate number of killings of Black people by the police is the result of Black people committing more crimes. “Over 50% of all murders are committed by Black people. That's a stat that makes everybody, like, get really uncomfortable because nobody wants to talk about it.” [Outkick, Outkick The Show, 2/2/2023]
Travis used his sports shows to complain about conservative media censorship and Hunter Biden conspiracies
Travis regularly pushes the idea that conservative voices are censored or deprioritized on the internet. The claim is not supported by evidence as social media companies disclose very little about their content moderation decisions.
In particular, Travis has promoted conspiracies about The New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story being taken down from Twitter in 2020, and used his sports network to connect Biden’s mishandling of classified documents to his son. In reality, the documents show a social media company scrambling to separate real stories from suspected foreign influence. This faulty narrative has also been pushed heavily by Fox News.
- Travis claimed Twitter’s decisions to take down The New York Post’s story on Hunter Biden’s laptop “probably rigged the 2020 election.“ He claimed that the so-called “Twitter files” showed “a systemic attempt to rig elections and political conversations exclusively for a left-wing political benefit.” In reality the documents show a social media company scrambling to separate real stories from suspected foreign influence. [Outkick, Outkick The Show, 12/9/2022]
- Travis argued the situation surrounding the Hunter Biden laptop story “makes Watergate seem like jaywalking.” Travis additionally claimed the blocking of the story on Twitter was a “conspiracy of silence to protect Joe Biden and potentially rig the 2020 election.” [iHeartPodcasts, Wins and Losses, 1/25/2023]
- Travis interviewed New York Post’s Miranda Devine, who wrote the original story on Hunter Biden’s laptop, on his sports podcast. She insisted her story on the laptop showed Joe Biden “was intimately involved” with the supposed scandal. “He met with Hunter Biden's overseas business partners.” In reality, evidence that Joe Biden was involved with his son’s business dealings hasn’t materialized and evidence he even knew the specifics of Hunter’s dealings is questionable at best. [iHeartPodcasts, Wins and Losses, 1/25/2023]
- Travis used his sports podcast to platform Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon, who lamented that the Babylon Bee had been banned from Twitter for violating the site's terms of service about misgendering transgender people. Dillon complained that Twitter engaged in “viewpoint discrimination” by refusing to allow his website to post content that misgendered Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine. Travis allowed Dillon to argue he has a right to harass people for being transgender. [iHeartPodcasts, Wins & Losses, 5/7/2022]