Barstool Sports president Dave Portnoy isn’t surprised that ESPN canceled late-night talk show “Barstool Van Talk” after just one episode. He’s also not exactly losing sleep over it.
“ESPN needed us more than we need them,” Portnoy said Monday night during an “emergency press conference” livestreamed on Periscope. “Everybody is saying, ‘ESPN is not cool, no one is paying attention to ESPN, they’re all paying attention to the Barstools of the world.’ Why? Because we’re authentic.”
“This is exactly why Barstool Sports has to exist,” Portnoy told his loyal audience. “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 still didn’t apologize for remarks he made three years ago about ESPN “Morning Countdown” host Sam Ponder that were widely viewed as sexist and that may have prompted the show’s cancellation, directly or indirectly. The man nicknamed “El Presidente” does wish he worded that self-described “rant” a bit differently.
“She got accomplished what she wanted to get accomplished,” Portnoy said of Ponder, later referring to it as “a grudge move” on her part.
Portnoy, who tipped his cap to Ponder for resurfacing the remarks one day before “Van Talk” debuted, asserted that “95 percent” of ESPNers actually like Barstool.
He called out Sarah Spain specifically as another employee of the Disney-owned network who most certainly does not — though Portnoy said that her beef stems from the fact that the “Around the Horn” regular just wants her own series.
“I actually get why ESPN canceled the show,” he added on the social pressures levied against their short-lived allegiance.
“Anyone who thinks that ESPN executives wanted to cancel this show are nuts,” Portnoy said of the Big Cat vehicle, which literally takes place inside of a vehicle. “They’re a Walt Disney company. They gotta cater to what all the complaints and the few say. We do not. We will not. This is not our first controversy.”
“People who have been with us forever know we’re not sexist, we’re not chauvinistic, we’re not anything,” he concluded. “We make fun of everybody.”