Barstool vs Rep. Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez or How Outrage Culture Backfires

Barstool Sports owner Dave Portnoy battles Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

By John Restuccia

John Restuccia - President BU College Libertarians and write at Binghamton Review
John Restuccia

In yet another week of politically correct boycotts, Barstool Sports has hit the news. For those who don’t know, Barstool Sports is a comedy sports culture news site. They pride themselves on being anti-politically correct. They have little to no care on who they offend or how things are said. The Barstool brand in recent years has become massively popular with over 1.7 million followers on Twitter and their website getting hundreds of thousands of readers every day.

Over this past week, the creator of Barstool Sports, Dave Portnoy, has landed in hot water. That put him in the sights of everyone’s favorite Democrat Socialist congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (commonly called AOC). The reason being his stance on unions in the blogging sphere, and joking about it on Twitter.

The outrage

The controversy began with Dave Portnoy tweeting on the fact pop culture company TheRinger was planning to unionize. Portnoy tweeted joking about Barstool employees unionizing, with a link to a previous article. The article was a satire piece from 2015.

            The backlash online was huge, with many online taking aim at the sports comedian. This was only exacerbated by the fact that instead of apologizing Portnoy did the unthinkable. Counter to current trends, he didn’t back down and apologize. Instead he responded to those who soliciting to unionize his company, as the August 13, 2019 tweet reflects,   

It should be clear this was meant as a joke. Anyone who follows Barstool Sports and/or Dave Portnoy likely know that this is exactly the off-color and dark satire that Portnoy is known for.

Then came #AOC

But AOC then decided to jump into the conversation. However it became clear that Rep. Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez didn’t understand Portnoy. Equally she apparently had no idea about Barstool Sports comedy.

Now what might Portnoy do when a member of Congress called out his private business and his personal opinions? Why he challenged her to a debate and stuck to his guns. He didn’t apologize like many major corporations have done.

The response

He didn’t do what most do when faced with a mob of angry people perpetuating outrage culture. What he did was go on his show, explaining his stance on unions as a whole (which was pro-unions in business, outside of blogging where there isn’t much of a physical danger). Then he proceeded to make a t-shirt out of the situation. In fact this whole situation had an opposite effect than what outrage culture attempts to achieve.

The point of social media driven outrage culture is to enforce behavior that is deemed as politically incorrect. It is a form of vigilante justice. Equally it is censorship as if the behavior remains unchanged,then social media mobs attempt to shutdown whomever the offender is.

The result

Portnoy didn’t fall in line, instead thriving on it. They gained free advertising from media coverage in the last couple of days. Barstool Sports traffic increased. Which drew new fans to Barstool. Tons of merchandise sold.

So how did AOC come out of this? Was it a tremendous backfire? She ignored the challenge from Portnoy. To new and old fans, and at least some onlookers as well, she looks like a coward who jumped into a boxing match against Mike Tyson, and ran away. The whole situation at best made appears to make her look foolish to everyone, save hardcore followers.

Whatever happens next in this saga one thing is sure. Barstool has gained in popularity. Still lessons can be learned from this incident.

The best way to beat the outrage culture? By continuing being who you are and not backing down. Proof that being politically incorrect is important in combating today’s outrage cancel culture. 

About the Author

Michael Vass
Born in 1968, a political commentator for over a decade. Has traveled the U.S. and lived in Moscow and Tsblisi, A former stockbroker and 2014 Congressional candidate. Passionate about politics with emphasis on 1st and 2nd Amendments.

Be the first to comment on "Barstool vs Rep. Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez or How Outrage Culture Backfires"

Thank you for lending your voice. We appreciate hearing what you have to say.

%d bloggers like this: