President Donald Trump sat down yesterday for an interview with Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy. The interview comes after its founder has pushed conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and has been under fire for numerous racist remarks. The site has also pushed the QAnon conspiracy theory in the past.
On Friday afternoon, Portnoy released the interview. As CNN reporter Daniel Dale noted, it was immediately apparent that Portnoy did very little research before sitting down with the president. But the most notable portion was Portnoy pushing Trump to criticize Dr. Anthony Fauci, the long-serving head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Portnoy has made his conspiratorial politics clear regardless of where he appears -- though Trump agreeing to the interview might be related, in part, to Portnoy’s Fox appearances on Tucker Carlson Tonight, where he has appeared at least 21 times since the beginning of 2018, per Media Matters internal database. He has also appeared on Fox Business on multiple occasions.
On March 11, days after saying he was willing to inject one of his employees with Ebola to prove that it’s a fraud, Portnoy called himself a coronavirus “truther” and said that concern over the virus is a “fraud, overreaction, or media concoction.” He also compared COVID-19 to the flu. Four months later, more than 140,000 have died from COVID-19.
In May, while livestreaming his attempts to day trade the stock market, Portnoy filmed himself at his home in front of a sign that read “Fuck that midget fuck Anthony Fauchi [sic].” During his meltdown, he called Fauci “one of the great criminals of our civilization.”
Fox's Tucker Carlson would, in June, invite Portnoy on to criticize Fauci’s assessment of the challenges of a potential NFL season.
In late June, Portnoy came under fire for numerous uncovered racist remarks, including repeatedly using racial slurs on Barstool programming and likening Colin Kaepernick -- the former football player who started a peaceful protest for racial justice and against police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem -- to “an ISIS guy.” In another uncovered video, Portnoy likened Kaepernick to Osama bin Laden. In response to the criticism, Portnoy called himself “uncancellable.” One employee has left the site over the controversy, and other employees are having different reactions.
Racist commentary on Barstool isn’t confined to Portnoy, either, though he certainly exemplifies it. For instance:
And there are plenty more examples like that. For example, then-Fox Sports contributor Emily Austen appeared in a Barstool interview and made disparaging comments about “stingy” Jews, commented on another story by saying that she “didn’t even know Mexicans were that smart,” and said, “You guys know the Chinese guy is always the smartest guy in math class.”
Barstool has also given credence to the QAnon conspiracy theory, running a post in 2019 that cited QAnon as a White House insider. The conspiracy theory alleges that an anonymous supposed high-level member of the federal government, “Q,” posts on a white nationalism message board with clues about an alleged Trump master plan to take down “deep state” opponents and pedophilia rings supposedly linked to celebrities and politicians who just happen to criticize Trump’s performance in office.