Donald Trump’s Latest White House Interviewee: Barstool’s Dave Portnoy

The president invited the Boston-bred media mogul to a chat in D.C.

trump portnoy

Trump photo via Getty/Drew Angerer | Portnoy photo via Getty/Brett Carlsen

Dave Portnoy has made it to the White House.

In pictures posted Thursday night, the Boston-bred media mogul can be seen interviewing President Trump in a yet-to-be-aired segment for Barstool Sports. It hasn’t aired yet, but appears to be tied to the return of the MLB this week and, according to a White House staffer who tweeted about it, involves a discussion of “the role that sports plays in the #GreatAmericanComeback.”

Dave Portnoy’s come a long way from his start in Boston, where he first launched a sports-focused newspaper in 2003, and eventually turned it into what is probably the most prominent media outlet for bro culture in the country. Barstool, which is now based in New York and boasts some of the most popular podcasts in the world, has brought him riches—a deal this year valued Barstool at $450 million—and earned him plenty of enemies, as well as an army of supporters who would follow him off a cliff in Nantucket if he led them there.

Like him or not, the fact is the guy has made himself impossible to ignore, and allying yourself with him, as the president presumably is trying to do, means reaching the thousands of fans who live, breathe, and post ceaselessly about everything Barstool, and whose devotion to Portnoy is unconditional, surviving multiple controversies—including, most recently, a public spat with Barstool talent over clips of Portnoy’s past racist comments about Colin Kaepernick, and use of racial slurs.

As his profile has continued to rise, Portnoy has become a known entity in right-wing media, appearing multiple times on one of Trump’s favorite shows, Tucker Carlson Tonight. His takes have also been amplified by retweets from the Trump family, including the president himself, who in May RT’d a video Portnoy shared of a Boston business owner railing against mandated closures in the pandemic.

So it makes sense that Portnoy’s journey would eventually lead him to the White House, where he was pictured chatting, interviewing, and laughing with the Commander in Chief.

The president has turned to Portnoy in a time of need. At this point in his reelection campaign, Trump appears to be lagging behind Joe Biden in the polls, and faces widespread disapproval of his handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Trump has also been mocked roundly for his performance in a Sunday interview on the White House’s South Lawn with Fox’s Chris Wallace, particularly over false coronavirus figures and the hilarious boast that he aced a test designed to detect signs of dementia. In the wake of all that negative attention, Trump set up at least one other interview in the same location, with a friendly Fox analyst, who nodded along as Trump worked to explain his claims about the provably non-challenging test. Next up in this line of interviewees, it seems, was Portnoy.

Portnoy’s politics are a bit murky, and it’s not like he’s a full-on campaign surrogate for Trump, but he did say in a 2016 blog post that he was voting for him: “I don’t care if he’s a joke. I don’t care if he’s racist. I don’t care if he’s sexist. I don’t care about any of it. I hope he stays in the race and I hope he wins. Why? Because I love the fact that he is making other politicians squirm. I love the fact he says shit nobody else will say regardless of how ridiculous it is.” Whether Portnoy sees his appearance with Trump this week as a means of boosting the president’s prospects come November is unclear. In a tweet on Friday, Portnoy had only this to say: “I have a hard and fast rule I live by,” he tweeted. “If any sitting President of the United States invites me to the Oval Office I go.”

Update: Portnoy posted video of the interview Friday afternoon.