ESPN Dumps ‘Barstool Van Talk’ After Only One Episode Amidst Employee Complaints

ESPN canceled its new late-night show, “Barstool Van Talk,” after only one episode. The move comes on the heels of complaints by ESPN host Sam Ponder that the doomed show’s host and the Barstool site itself, had made offensive comments towards her child, and made light of offensive comments towards her.

The short-lived ESPN show was born out of the Barstool Sports blog and podcasts and was hosted by Barstool podcaster Dan “Big Cat” Katz. The cancellation comes on the heels of Ponder’s complaints to management that the blog Katz came from, had once called her child an “ugly kid,” and laughed at an article calling her a slut.

Ultimately, ESPN president John Skipper decided that the network couldn’t separate Katz from his blog, even though Katz insists that he was not a part of the offensive behavior on the site.

“While we had approval of the content of the show, I erred in assuming we could distance our efforts from the Barstool site and its content,” Skipper wrote in a public statement:

Why ESPN thought they could get Barstool without getting Barstool, is a bit of a mystery. Though, the network did once upon a time think they could get Rush Limbaugh, without getting Rush Limbaugh. So, one could say a precedent for that kind of incompetence exists. Skipper didn’t cite Ponder’s complaints about Katz’ blog, but it is likely that the issues she raised, played some part in the network’s decision.

The cancellation may have been foreshadowed by a statement by the Executive Vice President for Programming and Scheduling, Burke Magnus, who said the comments about Ponder on the Barstool Sports blog were “offensive.”

“The comments about Sam Ponder were offensive and inappropriate, and we understand her reaction. She is a valued colleague and doing a great job for us,” Magnus told The Washington Post. “As stated previously, we do not control the content of Barstool Sports. We are doing a show with Big Cat and PFT, and we do have final say on the content of that show.”

Of course, with every move ESPN makes nowadays, one must also factor in that Disney CEO Bob Iger is being courted to run for president on the Democrat ticket. If Iger allowed a group charged with making misogynistic comments to have a show on his network, despite the complaints of female employees. Such a move could provide Iger’s opponents in the Democratic primaries with a useful tool to hurt him with female voters.

Whatever caused ESPN’s top man to cancel the show, Katz and his co-hosts said they were disappointed by the cancellation.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.


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