NBC’s Peter King announced in Monday’s Football Morning in America column that he would no longer be appearing on any Barstool Sports programs. His decision comes after The Daily Beast published a lengthy and unflattering look at the ever-growing website last week. King, who was a recurring guest on Barstool’s Pardon My Take podcast, cites Silverman’s piece and calls some of the offending content “skin-crawling” and “a disgrace.” He also reveals there were talks of a joint project with PFT Commenter during his Sports Illustrated tenure, but is happy they fell through in light of The Daily Beast report.
As he is wont to do, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy responded to the criticism by hunkering down in the mud and shooting from the hip. Addressing the issue on Barstool Radio this afternoon, Portnoy referred to King as a “fat assh—” and a “fat f–king bastard.”
Then he really laid into him.
“How about you debate me you f–king coward.” Portnoy continued. “You fat f–king b—h. He’s a fat f–k. I hope he f–king dies.”
His co-hosts, understanding that a line had been crossed, prompted Portnoy to apologize, an opportunity he jumped on. Portnoy followed up with, “Peter King deserves something bad to happen to him. Let’s just say that? Can we say that?”
Full context can be found here, under the Barstool Radio Show. The topic was broached during the Peter King vs Barstool segment, and Portnoy’s fiery remarks come in a segment titled “Laura Wagner emails Smitty.”
Portnoy later clarified his comments on Twitter and “Team Portnoy” published the exact same statement on the website.
The takeaway? Though Portnoy initially wished death on the longtime football writer, a compromise of physical harm to King by falling down some stairs while spilling hot coffee on himself while being stung by a bee was reached.
As always, the reality show nature of Barstool makes it hard to truly suss out what is work and what is shoot. Comparing the ferocity of King’s rebuke against Portnoy’s, it’s easy to see that the latter was exponentially more aggressive. It’s also important to remember that the company has been deploying a strong defense of their brand as a spate of negative think pieces taking aim at the company have been published.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of the myriad feuds Barstool and Portnoy have going with other outlets. The established sports media and the young male demographic advertisers so desperately crave tend to see these through partisan glasses. Barstool is what it is today because of Portnoy’s propensity to do something like this, which most front-facing figures at major companies wouldn’t dream of doing. He is an agitator and his language on King is intentionally incendiary.
And difficult to walk back.
It’s not the first time Barstool has found itself in this position. It won’t be the last. And no matter what you think about them, they are there — occupying a major market share and a huge slice of relevance. They’ve ascended to the point where the top guy wishing death on a fellow media member is fairly newsworthy, even if a semi-serious apology was proctored.