ESPN walked into another PR quagmire on Monday, announcing it was canceling the show Barstool Van Talk after just one week.
The show, hosted by Dan Katz (aka Barstool Big Cat) of Barstool Sports and long-celebrated satire personality PFT Commenter, was an extension of the pair’s very popular sports podcast, Pardon My Take.
The show’s cancelation was more about its brand association with the controversial Barstool Sports website than the content of the show. ESPN president John Skipper said as much in his statement announcing the show’s cancelation.
Last week, Deadspin reported that ESPN had tried to launch the show without Barstool‘s branding but was rebuffed by Barstool president Dave Portnoy.
That Deadspin piece, by Laura Wagner, also laid out why such branding would make it difficult for ESPN to move forward with the show.
While Barstool Van Talk itself (and the Pardon My Take podcast) has very little that’s offensive about it — as long as you don’t mind swearing and the mocking of overwrought sports writing — the same can’t be said about Barstool Sports, which has faced a boatload of criticism over what’s been labeled as atrocious, misogynistic content.
The controversy didn’t go unnoticed by some at ESPN, including on-air talent Sam Ponder, who got into a Twitter back-and-forth with Katz when the announcement of the show was originally made. During the exchange, Katz even suggests Ponder had confused him for Portnoy, who himself has been accused of having published plenty of terrible hot takes.
In a video posted to Facebook after the cancelation, Portnoy said he “understood” why the show was canceled and called Ponder’s tweet a “grudge.” He also took swipes at ESPN for being part of “PC America” and being “agenda-driven.”
ESPN’s new dust-up comes just as suspended writer Jemele Hill returns following the blow-up over her political tweets, and after the network took guff about a decision to pull an announcer named Robert Lee from working a University of Virginia game.
As for the people most directly affected by the cancelation, the show’s hosts took the news in stride, with the promise to continue working on the podcast end of things.
I’m obviously beyond heartbroken, but if you know me, Hank, and PFT you know we won’t stay down from this for long.
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) October 23, 2017
If u have two epsodes of a TV Show you dont have one
— PFTCommenter (@PFTCommenter) October 23, 2017
As of 4 p.m. ET on Monday, Pardon My Take was the number one “sports and recreation” podcast on iTunes and the 33rd ranking podcast overall.