Last October, ESPN canceled Barstool Van Talk after one episode. This came hot on the heels of Sunday NFL Countdown host Sam Ponder bringing an explicit Dave Portnoy blog post and rant targeting her to the public eye. John Skipper, then president of ESPN, made the executive decision to pull the plug on the content partnership.
A month later, Portnoy called Ponder a “cancer just spreading and infecting the network.” This past year has seen a slight easing of tensions, but they just ratcheted up to a new level.
Ponder, fielding questions tonight on her Instagram stories, wrote that she did not want Van Talk to be canceled and that she had been willing to appear on the show to discuss her issues.
Portnoy responded with a post titled “In The Face Of Plunging Ratings And Unheard of Unpopularity Sam Ponder Has Resorted To Flat Out Lying About Barstool Sports To Save Her Job At ESPN,” which, while not a great SEO play, is sharply-worded.
But I don’t think even she understood what she was doing. She didn’t understand the grave she dug for herself and her career. Now Stoolies DESPISE her. PMT fans DESPISE her. She alienated the very audience that ESPN needs so desperately and why they turned to us in the first place. And now she is feeling the heat. Her rankings and likability are in the toilet. Her career is in the toilet. Our fans of which there are many will never forgive her. So with her back against the wall her true colors are showing. She is now resorting to bold faced lies. Yes I confirmed with Dan that she NEVER offered to speak with them. In fact it was quite the opposite. She flat refused to speak with them. She demanded the show be cancelled. Of course nobody can ever prove that point, but trust me if they could have talked to her or had her on the show at the time they would have. If she didn’t cause a stink at ESPN BVT would be on Season 2 right now.
Portnoy also denied making the specific comment about Ponder’s child and challenged her to produce evidence it exists while referring to her as a “liar” and “dishonest scumbag.” Dan Katz, who co-hosted Van Talk with Barstool’s PFT Commenter, also called Ponder’s comments inaccurate.
“Sam’s comment speaks for itself,” an ESPN spokesperson said.
Ponder, in her second year of hosting Countdown, enjoys one of the highest-profile NFL jobs at the network. ESPN tapped her to replace Chris Berman and is committed to her succeeding in the role. She’s had strong internal support from both talent and management in the wake of previous Barstool-related incidents and there’s no reason to believe that will waver.
It’s no secret that the Barstool-ESPN business relationship was already irreconcilable, and this public feud has long been simmering. Still, we have high-profile members of the sports media lobbing around some serious accusations at each other in the public square.