ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown” host Sam Ponder doesn’t appear happy that the network is giving a platform to Barstool Sports, a blog that has attacked her religious beliefs and made sexist remarks about her in the past.
The ESPN host took to Twitter to express her displeasure as “Barstool Van Talk” is set to debut on ESPN 2 on Tuesday night.
On Monday afternoon, Ponder welcomed to the ESPN family Dan “Big Cat” Katz, co-host of Barstool’s popular “Pardon my Take” podcast who recently landed a late-night show on ESPN 2.
But her tweet was presumably sarcastic because she attached screen grabs of an old Barstool Sports post that attacked her with sexist comments and an editor’s note that referred to her as a “bible thumping freak.” The 2014 post was headlined, "Sam Ponder is in her ivory tower looking down at all the blogs who decided to disagree with Ray Rice KO'ing his wife."
The Barstool Sports blog entry proclaimed that Ponder’s No. 1 priority is to “make men hard” and her “entire career and livelihood is based on appealing to guys.”
Ponder seemed to think that Katz wrote the post, but ESPN’s newest host denied he wrote it and eventually responded, “I honestly think you have me confused for my boss Dave.”
Katz was correct, but his “boss Dave” is Barstool founder and President Dave Portnoy – who is one of ESPN’s newest partners. Last week, it was announced that ESPN and Barstool Sports teamed to create “Barstool Van Talk,” featuring Barstool’s Katz and PFT Commenter. Ponder returned to Twitter to explain the confusion, but doesn’t seem pleased that the offensive post about her was actually written by the head of Barstool.
The partnership seemed odd to many media watchdogs, as Barstool isn’t exactly politically correct and has mocked and attacked ESPN on a regular basis. The website even sold shirts that said “ESPN Lies” when Portnoy accused ESPN of exaggerating the details of the “deflategate” scandal.
Content from “Barstool Van Talk” will be featured across ESPN’s digital and social platforms including ESPN.com, the ESPN App, ESPN’s YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“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. 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,” ESPN Programming and Scheduling Executive Vice President Burke Magnus said in a statement.
Ponder, the wife of former NFL quarterback Christian Ponder, replaced ESPN legend Chris Berman as the anchor of the network’s NFL studio show this season. Network executives can’t be pleased that she is publically upset about ESPN’s newest partnership, especially on the heels of “SportsCenter” anchor Jemele Hill's current suspension for violating the company’s social media policy.
Former ESPN star Bill Simmons and “Pardon the Interruption” host Tony Kornheiser have been disciplined in the past for attacking colleagues, but the network will presumably be criticized if Ponder is punished for pointing out attacks against herself. In fact, The Big Lead dug up audio from a 2014 radio interview in which the founder and president of Barstool doubled down on his anti-Ponder comments.
“I know for a fact that every day at ESPN, all the suits and all the lawyers they have their daily 9:15 coffee meeting on how can we fire Sam Ponder without being sued for discrimination,” Portnoy said. “She’s the worst. No person who watches ‘GameDay’ wants to see a picture of her and her ugly kid. Nobody cares, Sam Ponder. We want to see you sex it up and be slutty and not be some prude f–king jerk who everybody hates... you're a f---ing slut.”
Katz was also on the radio show and chimed in about his now new colleague.
“Show me one person who likes Sam Ponder,” Katz says. “I don’t even think Christian Ponder likes Sam Ponder. Everyone hates her but no one will say it out loud.”
Meanwhile, Katz has accused Ponder of trying to get his show canceled and Barstool Editor-in-Chief Keith Markovich has since accused Ponder of libel.
ESPN declined Fox News’ request for further comment.