I’m a huge Barstool fan. I’ve talked about Barstool at length on this blog and anyone who knows me would say that I am a pretty diehard Stoolie. It’s no secret. I admire the company that Dave Portnoy built and the work he put in to get there. I still remain a Stoolie and will continue to digest a lot of the Barstool content. But, I can also admit that after getting bought out twice they have become largely a corporate machine that deters from real controversy in order to look chic while succumbing to woke ideals. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that and as I’ve said I’ll still consume their work. I just find pretty much everyone outside of a few employees not as interesting or authentic as they used to seem.
However, last week Kayce Smith, whom I have long called “Lukewarm” Kayce because of her generic and often obvious takes, came out firing when she called out Jason Whitlock of Outkick The Coverage for his criticism of Maria Taylor and Katie Nolan. This story is now almost a week old and is largely in the rearview mirror, but the two decided to hash out their disagreements on Barstool Radio yesterday to hopefully come to an understanding. Of course, they didn’t. Kayce showed she really didn’t do much research about the columns Whitlock wrote, although saying otherwise, and co-host KFC decided to intervene when he clearly didn’t do any research at all.
When looking at the origins of the story, that KFC didn’t even get right, it was Doug Gottlieb who called out ESPN/ABC host Maria Taylor for having a vote on the NBA all player’s teams and leaving out Anthony Davis on all 3 teams. Taylor ended up apologizing for this clear mistake, but Gottlieb – not Whitlock – asked if she truly should have a vote. Whitlock said that Gottlieb was entitled to his opinion. But, he never endorsed the idea that Maria Taylor shouldn’t have a vote, even if he doesn’t believe she deserves it.
This led to Taylor responding to Gottlieb via twitter and taking an approach that Whitlock disagreed with. He felt that Taylor was making herself out to be too much of a victim. Jason Whitlock wrote a column basically saying that Maria Taylor has all the potential in the world, even called her a unicorn, in the media industry and he believes that if she stays the course that she is on and doesn’t play into the victimhood that other ESPN personalities have done, like Michelle Beadle, Katie Nolan, and others, then she will have a much more successful career. His advice to her was to not take herself too seriously.
Is he right? I’m not sure, only time will tell. But either way he presented that opinion to Maria Taylor.
He also made comments about Taylor’s looks and how that has helped propel her career as well. It’s not really a secret that a good appearance helps get you on TV. There’s a reason why the phrase “a face for radio” exists. Is it fair? I’d say no but that’s not really what the argument was about. Whitlock takes the approach that he doesn’t care who you are or what you look like and that he will comment anyways.
These takes weren’t necessarily what started all the uproar, however, because it was when Katie Nolan saw this ricochet shot that Whitlock threw her way she responded on twitter and then almost immediately refused to further the conversation. She went private online and after calling Whitlock out for being a sexist, Whitlock wrote a full expose of Nolan and what has turned out to be a largely overpaid, plateau’d at not much career. He says she isn’t a journalist, can’t do live TV, and has no resume that warrants a 7 figure paycheck. Nothing that Whitlock said in his column has been proven false by really anyone, yet they immediately labeled him as a sexist anyways.
Whitlock has been in the media game for a long time. He has his takes that I both agree and disagree with. He said that Katie Nolan was overpaid and undeserving because of what executives at ESPN hoped she could be. He said that her position had little to do with merit and she actually was a direct beneficiary of the “white/beauty privilege” that many in media like Nolan claim to be so against. When doing research on Katie Nolan’s career, it is safe to say that her pretty much stalled show on late night ESPN portrays there are many in Bristol, Connecticut that probably deserve to be higher on the payroll. Whitlock further revealed that he did have a bone to pick with Nolan because of a hit piece she paraded on one of her old shows.
But, Kayce Smith didn’t take kind to this and she called out Whitlock for his “blatant sexism” on her new NFL podcast, “The Dime Package“. She said that Whitlock was basically just mad that females had jobs in the industry. She also started the rant by saying that Whitlock said that Maria Taylor shouldn’t be giving her opinion. That’s just untrue. Kayce said that Taylor and Nolan had their jobs because they were “really good at them”. For Taylor, sure that is definitely the case. But for Nolan, it’s not too controversial to say that she isn’t as good as what her compensation equates to. There’s a reason she’s not on TV all too often even though she has such a high salary.
Whitlock obviously saw this and called Kayce out for fabricating what he said and probably not even reading his columns on Outkick. He also dug up an old Barstool article where Dave Portnoy talked about how Katie Nolan was wildly overpaid and didn’t deserve her contract at the time of signing with ESPN. They had a back and forth on twitter when Whitlock learned about the new podcast and made a joke about how Kayce was leveraging her looks to draw an audience for her new NFL podcast.
It was the direct hypocrisy/irony that Whitlock was referring to with Kayce using her appearance to gain listeners. Is there anything wrong with it? Of course not. Also, in this case Whitlock was trying to make a joke about a picture Smith posted on her instagram. The specific picture that Whitlock retweeted was never actually promotion for the podcast, but the idea that the pod is 2 attractive girls talking about football is quite transparent. And maybe the joke didn’t land but there was for sure some truth to it in terms of the dime package being a hook and double entendre to try and build up their show. Whether you found it funny or not, it was pretty obvious. It was also not offensive, as admitted by Kayce herself.
So on this call it just further showed this inability to have a real conversation about the issue because Whitlock’s original points about Maria Taylor and Katie Nolan had much more to do about talent than looks. They all agreed that looks played a part in media and Kayce and Kevin even agreed that Whitlock was probably right about Katie Nolan.
Kayce also said prior to the call that Whitlock doesn’t have “healthy conversations” when she and Kevin were much more interrupting and intrusive during the call. And even though Kayce claims that she wasn’t offended by Whitlock reposting the picture, the whole argument turned to this issue and disregarded the actual problem. I’m a fan of the CCK show, but this was not a good look for them. Whitlock never said Kayce didn’t deserve her show or anything of the like, in fact he expressed his wishes for her to have success almost at the inception of the call.
It just further showed how discussing actual facts can derail someone from “their truth” so they grasp on to a singular idea to try and win the argument. Personally, I found it ineffective. They locked into this notion that because Whitlock reposted a picture that Kayce posted herself made him the bad guy. Whether you want to call it hypocrisy or irony, the simple fact of the matter is the Dime Package looks to use beauty to draw initial interest. Kayce admits that, yet the point still went clearly over Kayce and Kevin’s heads. Just because they didn’t find the joke funny doesn’t mean that they can completely disregard the argument.
Kayce also showed she didn’t read fully read and/or comprehend Whitlock’s articles or research his career. She tried to say that Whitlock was a beneficiary of privilege as well by being on a show with Colin Cowherd with FS1 when he had been working in the media industry for over 20 years before Speak for Yourself first aired. That was just a wrong shot by Smith and it was a funny moment to hear Whitlock brush it off with a laugh. He knew how ridiculous that was.
That would be the same as him saying Kayce was privileged because she got her show with KFC and position at Barstool. It’s just patently wrong. Kayce is no doubt talented, even if I don’t love her takes, and has worked to climb her way up from ESPN to NBC Sports Boston to Barstool. She’s put in a lot of work, is great at facilitating conversation on camera, and just like Whitlock is deserving of continuing a successful career. That doesn’t mean that she can’t be wrong in this instance.
And that’s pretty much how the call ended. The Barstool hosts without realizing proved Whitlock right in the fact that his criticism of Katie Nolan was completely justified. They didn’t like a “joke” that Whitlock made and that made them upset. It had nothing to do with the actual reason of him joining the program but overall it was entertaining. The actual issues at hand were diverted due to a largely harmless joke and overall semantics of how people act online in today’s day and age.
But, the biggest humor to come out after it was Barstool Nate just making a fool of himself and trying to jump into the fray. It was a weird tweet that he sent out that just basically virtue signaled an attempt to show he’s a better person than Whitlock.
Sorry Nate, but objectively speaking I won’t take you too seriously when you pretty much started your career posting clickbait and GTA. See, it works both ways. Have some self awareness, please. I’m not going to value your opinion on how you view women vs. other’s I also haven’t met. You can only take in what you put out.
Barstool has changed, that’s for sure. I’m happy they are still willing to have a conversation on the radio but it just showed that they were unwilling to alter their views and take a joke. I wonder what Dave thought of the whole encounter.
I think Kayce could have had a much better chance of proving her point if she challenged Whitlock from the angle that there are other highly paid ESPN employees who also didn’t work out like Katie Nolan. She could have talked about people to the likes of Danny Kanell or Trent Dilfer who were given the opportunities to succeed at the network, and they didn’t fail because of their gender, but because you can’t bat 1.000 when hiring and keeping talent. It’s a hard industry to succeed in. Kayce could have challenged Whitlock as to why she thought those people failed in contrast to Nolan and other’s who didn’t pan out at ESPN.
It would have made Whitlock defend his stances on females and Nolan in the industry much more carefully, in my opinion. She also could have talked about the treatment of men beyond just their looks in the industry. Instead she resorted to getting derailed by a minor joke. I’m not sure if this would have been necessarily a better outcome for Kayce and KFC, yet it would have been much more substantive for sure.
The two would probably disagree as to why non-success was the case for these individuals, whether it was based on opinions or things of the like, but it still could have been much more interesting conversation.
Why would we expect any of those nowadays though, right?