Over the past few weeks, various Barstool platforms have been discussing an upcoming story from HBO Real Sports. The tone, up until Thursday’s edition of Barstool Radio on SiriusXM, had generally been one of cautious optimism, but that has evidently taken a turn.
Barstool’s founder Dave Portnoy opened up the discussion on the topic by saying he has “become increasingly more distraught” about what he predicts will be a “full-blown hit piece.”
Portnoy says that the HBO reporter followed him around the office and accompanied him to a pizza review and that everything turned when he and Barstool CEO Erika Nardini went in for interviews and it turned into a several-hour grilling session. He adds that he went into it thinking the piece would be positive, but that his interview was “not positive … this is going to be a debacle.” He went on to say that his spot was done without make-up, and that they seemed to want him sweating and looking like Richard Nixon.
Given that it sounds like the information gathering is at or near a conclusion, it would not be surprising if this Real Sports episode is out in the next few weeks.
The reaction to it should be interesting in the sense that it’s difficult to imagine the story covering any previously un-trodden ground that anti-Barstool pieces in Daily Beast, Deadspin, and a number of other outlets have not already written about. Further, Barstool’s fans are entrenched in their devotion to Portnoy and the brand. Nevertheless, sometimes and for whatever reason, stories tend to gain more legs when they are on television — and especially a network like HBO — than in print. There’s a reason Portnoy’s infamous interview with Inside Edition has gotten brought up repeatedly.
Barstool has thrived as a business in spite of a lot of harsh coverage, and Portnoy generally reacts by turning them into material on all his platforms. One imagines a similar cycle will transpire here. Perhaps, despite the apparent belief that this story would be positive, this is what Portnoy wanted all along when agreeing to the piece?