Barstool Sports and Michael Rapaport Remain at War

Published on March 4, 2020

Barstool Sports and Michael Rapaport… could there be two more unappealing adversaries going head-to-head? Where do we even begin in choosing who to root for in this legal battle? The bro company and the bro comedian had a bad breakup three years ago, which led to Barstool taking as many shots as possible at Rapaport. Bad blood is still all over the walls between these two. 

Barstool & Rapaport 

Years ago, Rapaport was hired as a radio host by Barstool Sports. He’s famous for his loud, obnoxious, and thoughtless style of comedy, which is all about trash talk, sports, and other bro-friendly subjects. The comic fit their brand. Barstool Sports, of course, is a major presence online. The network is an empire of content worth around half a billion dollars. Their content goes viral or spreads like fire often. 

What Went Wrong

Barstool offered Rapaport  $200,000 to produce video rants, $400,000 for his podcast, and all sorts of perks. So, what happened? One night Rapaport went on one of his Twitter rants, calling fans of the site that hired him “losers.” The owner and creator of Barstool Sports, David Portnoy, didn’t take kindly to that. He fired Rapaport very publicly on Twitter. The two quickly traded insults online, as professionals do, and drummed up a lot of publicity for themselves. 

A Reputation Damaged

Barstool Sports went on a rampage after the fallout. They went after Rapaport hard. For example, by selling a shirt of him with a clown nose and a cold sore. Employees of Barstool spread rumors about STDs and past bad behavior involving Rapaport, painting a very ugly and unflattering picture of the comic to their massive audience. Barstool sports have harrased people in the past.

Bad Behavior

The comic only worked at Barstool for a few months, so he was never fully paid what he was offered. Two days ago, Rapaport filed summary judgement papers in a breach-of-contract and defamation lawsuit against the bro network. Here’s an excerpt calling out Portnoy’s behavior (Source: THR):

Barstool’s founder, Defendant Portnoy, admits to actual malice, admitting not only that Defendants had no basis to make these false statements, but that they made them to ruin Mr. Rapaport’s career, and to embarrass and humiliate him. He also admits that, even if he knew the statements to be false, he would not apologize to Mr. Rapaport or retract the statements. When questioned publicly about the truth of these statements, Defendants went a step further and stated that the statements they made about Mr. Rapaport were true: ‘That’s all we spit. Truth and justice baby. Truth and justice.'”

Rapaport denies all allegations about racism, STDs, and harassment. As a result of the fallout, his podcast rating went from 4.5 stars to 1.5 stars. A new show of his was unable to get sponsors, although maybe the show just wasn’t good enough. Fans have turned their backs on him believing he’s racist, Rapaport states in the lawsuit. 

More Details on the Lawsuit

Barstool Sports, however, claims they were only pointing out stories already known about Rapaport’s past, including an arrest for stalking. According to Barstool, Rapaport breached contract by tauning their audience. The company was right to fire Rapaport for making fun of the site’s audience, but they were all wrong in the aftermath. 

Rapaport’s summary argues controversy is what the site does, however, and Rapaport was just doing his job:

“As a brand, Barstool actively promotes itself through controversy. Barstool encourages this controversy both among its employees and against third parties. The Talent Agreement recognizes this controversy, noting ‘Barstool encourages you to be you, and recognizes that certain topics may generate controversy.’ While Barstool has received significant public criticism for its self-inflicted controversies, no employees have been punished for this.”

What a mess. Both sides are in the wrong. Nobody to root for here. There’s a very sad comedy to be made about this insignificant, anti-epic fight one day. Michael Rapaport and Barstool Sports? Probably the least exciting two high-profile forces to take each other on in a long, long time. 

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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