After three women detailed Portnoy’s alleged pattern of engaging in violent acts without consent, the Barstool Sports founder denied their claims and said each sexual encounter with his accusers was fully consensual.
Barstool Takes Monetary Hit Following Allegations
The stock for Penn National Gaming, the parent company of Barstool Sports, fell as much as 21% Thursday after Insider published allegations from several women about violent sexual encounters with Barstool’s founder, Dave Portnoy.
In total, that meant a loss of as much as $2.69 billion in valuation at one point.
Insider‘s exposé featured three young women who detailed how they felt frightened and humiliated after having sex with Portnoy. In all three cases, the women — who were as young as 19 and 20 at the time of the alleged encounters — said Portnoy aggressively choked them during sex without permission. Two of the women also claimed Portnoy recorded them during sex without asking.
The hit to Penn National likely wasn’t just due to the controversy surrounding Portnoy. It also came after the company missed third-quarter earnings expectations. Friday morning, Penn National’s stock was performing slightly better, trading at around $63 — still 14% lower than where it had been prior to plummeting.
In a 12-minute video published Thursday, Portnoy denied that the encounters were anything less than consensual.
“At no point did she ask me to stop,” Portnoy said of one of the women, who went by the pseudonym Madison in the Insider piece. “At no point did either of us think something unseemly happened. There was no weirdness after. It was a totally fine normal interaction. Sexual — 100% consensual… I’m telling you now, her version of events is not true on our hookup.”
What Madison Told Insider
Portnoy’s account differs drastically from the description Madison gave to Insider.
According to Madison, she first sent Portnoy a direct message on Instagram, but after he responded, the two soon moved communications to Snapchat, where she said Portnoy began showing her graphic videos of women he’d slept with. At the time, Madison was 20 and Portnoy was 43.
Insider reporter Julia Black, who said on Twitter that she spent eight months writing and researching this story, also noted that other messages between the two showed Portnoy asking Madison about her sexual fantasies, to which she revealed a rape fantasy.
“You and I are going to get along so well,” Portnoy said in the messages reviewed by Black.
Eventually, Portnoy allegedly flew Madison to his Nantucket home first-class for two nights; however, when she got there, Madison said she found him to be “very rude” and not funny, saying, “He just reminded me of a boring, grumpy old man.”
Nonetheless, Madison told the outlet that the two later began making out. As the situation escalated, Madison said she began performing oral sex on Portnoy. That’s when she said things began to take a turn for the worse, recalling how Portnoy suddenly began filming her without her permission.
“I never said anything,” she told Insider. “I was scared. He was just so mean.”
From there, Madison claimed Portnoy was so rough during sex that it felt like she was being raped, later telling a friend he choked her so hard she couldn’t breathe.
“I was literally screaming in pain,” she told the friend in text messages published by Insider.
During the encounter, Madison reportedly yelled out, “Too much! Too much!” and “It hurts!”
According to Madison, the two did not have sex again, and she slept on Portnoy’s couch for both nights of her stay.
In addition to denying her version of events in his response, Portnoy further attempted to diffuse the situation by claiming the two were “like oil and vinegar.” He added that Madison slept on the couch not as a result of their sexual encounter but because the two didn’t see the world in the same way.
“My recollection is she was still interested in hooking up and I was like this just isn’t working,” he said. “We don’t get along.”
“If what she’s telling that she didn’t enjoy the experience is true, I had no idea and that’s horrible and I never want to feel that way, but if there was a hidden camera in that room, and it wasn’t a he-said/she-said, and someone saw the interaction, there would be absolutely nothing there. I promise you. I’ve never lied.”
Earlier this year, Portnoy faced a similar controversy for being violent in bed after a leaked video showed him aggressively choking a woman with a collar and leash. While both Portnoy and the woman claimed the encounter was consensual, the situation generated enough backlash that investors began pulling out Penn National, causing significant losses.
Allegations From Allison
While the accusations from the second woman are only briefly touched upon and never given much detail outside of her claiming she was also choked and filmed without her permission, the third woman featured in the explosive report claimed she became suicidal after her encounter with Portnoy.
That woman, a Nantucket local who goes by Allison in the Insider piece and who was 19 at the time, said she first went over to Portnoy’s house after being pressured by her friends.
While sitting by the pool, she claimed she and Portnoy started talking, but he very quickly stopped the conversation and began kissing her before leading her up to his bedroom.
Allison refrained from telling Insider many of the specifics of the sexual encounter; however, like the other two women, she did note that Portnoy began choking her at one point without her consent.
She added that after the sex ended, Portnoy immediately kicked her out and she left feeling very overwhelmed. That feeling would only intensify for her in the following days as photos of her at Portnoy’s house began spreading across Nantucket. Soon, people began to piece together that the two had engaged in sex.
“I guess it was kind of my breaking point,” Allison said, noting that she became hospitalized while suicidal.
Eventually, Allison’s mom also learned of the incident and approached the police about taking action by sending officers to stake out his house. Despite her mother’s anger, Allison refused to press charges, telling Insider that she doesn’t feel like the encounter was sexual assault and that she didn’t want him to drag her name through the mud. In fact, all three women have said they’ve been afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation from both Portnoy and his fan base.
Still, Allison added that she “felt very preyed on” and deeply disturbed by the sexual encounter.
In his response, Portnoy said he was never contacted by authorities after Allison’s mom reached out to the police.
“I’ve never done anything that’s remotely, you know, not consensual,” he said. “So this story is total news to me. This mother is saying there’s parties in Nantucket. If you put [out] a police car, you’ll see girls getting dropped off all the time. Totally false. I never have people at my house. Rarely. I hate people at my house. I want to go to bed early.”
While Portnoy added that he feels bad if their interactions made Allison depressed, he also shared alleged messages they exchanged where she seemed to speak positively about having sex or wanting to have sex with him.
“They’re saying she was so depressed by me, suicidal almost, but she was continually hitting me up to hang out,” he said. “And it was the mother who found the DMs, and maybe she’s ashamed. I don’t know. I’m telling you the truth.”
N.Y. State Senate Passes Bill Championed by Jay-Z That Would Restrict Use of Rap Lyrics in Court
A companion bill currently sits in the state’s assembly.
“Rap Music on Trial” Passes Senate
The New York State Senate passed legislation on Tuesday that would curb prosecutors’ ability to cite rap lyrics and other creative works as evidence in legal battles.
Dubbed “Rap Music on Trial,” the bill aims to “enhance the free speech protections of New Yorkers by banning the use of art created by a defendant as evidence against them in a courtroom,” according to a statement from State Sens. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and Jamaal Bailey (D-Queens).
“The legislation will protect all artists and content creators, including rappers from having their lyrics wielded against them by prosecutors,” the statement continued.
Right now, all forms of creative expression, including rap lyrics, can be used as evidence in criminal cases. Rap lyrics, however, are more likely to be weaponized against those who wrote them in trial, experts say.
“The use of rap and hip-hop lyrics in particular is emblematic of the systemic racism that permeates our criminal justice system,” Bailey said in a statement.
Hoylman agrees that there is a double standard.
“Nobody thinks Johnny Cash shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, or that David Byrne is a psycho killer, but routinely rappers have their lyrics used against them in criminal trials,” he tweeted.
The bill would not fully ban the use of rap lyrics in court. If made into law, prosecutors would need “clear and convincing proof that there is a literal, factual nexus between creative expression and the facts of the case” in order to use these works as evidence.
Major artists including Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Kelly Rowland, and Robin Thicke previously signed a letter in support of the legislation.
A companion bill currently sits in the New York State Assembly.
Rap Lyrics in Court
The use of rap lyrics against their artists is not an uncommon tactic. Earlier this month, an indictment charging Young Thug, Gunna, and two dozen others over alleged gang activity and conspiracy to violate racketeering laws used lyrics of the aforementioned artists.
While the case is in Atlanta and would not be impacted by the New York bill, the use of their lyrics has stirred controversy. In a motion requesting that Gunna be released from jail, his lawyers argued that it was unfair to cite these works.
“It is intensely problematic that the State relies on song lyrics as part of its allegations,” his lawyers said in court documents. “These lyrics are an artist’s creative expression and not a literal recounting of facts and circumstances. Under the State’s theory, any artist with a song referencing violence could find herself the victim of a RICO indictment.”
Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis defended the indictment’s use of the lyrics and argued it did not violate the artist’s free speech.
In the letter signed by numerous recording artists, the authors said this kind of tactic “effectively denies rap music the status of art and, in the process, gives prosecutors a dangerous advantage in the courtroom.”
“Rather than acknowledge rap music as a form of artistic expression, police and prosecutors argue that the lyrics should be interpreted literally — in the words of one prosecutor, as ‘autobiographical journals’ — even though the genre is rooted in a long tradition of storytelling that privileges figurative language, is steeped in hyperbole, and employs all of the same poetic devices we find in more traditional works of poetry,” the letter, which was written by Jay-Z’s lawyer Alex Spiro and University of Richmond Professor Erik Nielson, said.
YouTube Touts MrBeast and Mainstream Appeal in First Upfront Presentation
According to Nielson, over 230 million people in the United States used the video service in just one month.
YouTube Presents at Upfronts
During its first Upfront presentation on Tuesday, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said the company said it was joining staple broadcast and entertainment companies “because YouTube is the mainstream.”
“Viewers have more choices than ever about what to watch or where to watch it,” Wojcicki said while speaking at the Imperial Theatre in New York City. “And they continue to use YouTube.”
The company had previously done its Brandcast presentation at the NewFronts. This was the first time its pitch came alongside television competitors during the busy Upfronts season.
Many of YouTube’s primary talking points were highlighted in a company blog post. In its address, it marketed itself not just as the future of media consumption, but as the modern-day leader, too.
It said that over 135 million people watched YouTube on Connected TVs, representing every age demographic from toddlers to viewers 55-years-old and up. It also cited Nielson data that said YouTube has over 50% of ad-supported streaming watch time on TV screens.
Nielsen also found that YouTube reached over 230 million people in the United States in just one month.
YouTube Offers Up Its Talent
MrBeast, one of YouTube’s top creators, attended the presentation. The company boasted that if MrBeast were his own streaming service, he would “would have more subscribers than the next three most popular ad-supported streaming services.” In other words, with 95 million YouTube subscribers, MrBeast is ahead of HBO and HBO Max’s 77 million, Paramount’s 33 million, and Hulu’s 54 million in the United States.
Or course, subscribing to a YouTube channel is very different from subscribing to a streaming service, as YouTube subscriptions come at no cost. Viewers can subscribe to as many or as few creators as they please for free, while each streaming service has a monthly or annual fee to gain access to its content.
YouTube didn’t only show off its homegrown talent. Popstar Lizzo also took the stage to sing her praises of the company, along with a few of her biggest hits.
But the company’s most important appeals came from the strengths it offered to advertisers. It claimed that 2020 Nielson analysis showed that YouTube on average had a 1.2 times greater return on investment than television.
It also announced a frequency optimization tool for advertisers that would allow companies to control how many times viewers see their spots in one week. In its blog post, YouTube said this allows for “more efficient” spending and “a better experience for viewers.”
It touted this optimization as “a solution only YouTube can provide.”
See what others are saying: (Deadline) (TubeFilter) (Variety)
“Saturday Night Live” Faces Backlash for Sketch Mocking the Johnny Depp Amber Heard Trial
Many fear that jokes about the case could hurt the everyday domestic abuse survivors that see them.
SNL Mocks Trial
After “Saturday Night Light” parodied the ongoing defamation trial between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in its cold open this weekend, many are criticizing the show — and media at large — for making a mockery of the case.
Ever since the trial began in April, there has been an onslaught of TikToks, tweets, videos, and other posts turning the happenings in the courtroom into clickbait content. Most of the posts use Heard as a punchline as the #JusticeForJohnnyDepp narrative prevails online.
Depp sued Heard for $50 million over a 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post titled “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” While she never mentioned Depp by name, many believed the piece referred to previous abuse allegations she had made about him. Depp, however, alleges that Heard was actually the abuser and concocted the claims to ruin his career. She countersued for $100 million.
In its most recent episode, “Saturday Night Live” aired a sketch starring Kyle Mooney as Depp, Cecily Strong as the judge, and Aidy Bryant and Heidi Gardner as lawyers in the case. The sketch took place in the courtroom as the involved parties discussed allegations that Heard defecated in her and Depp’s bed. They then watched “video evidence” of house staffers, played by Kenan Thompson, Ego Nwodim, Melissa Villaseñor, and Chris Redd, finding the fecal matter.
At various points, Strong’s judge said they should continue watching the video “because it’s funny” and she and Mooney’s Depp both said they find the trial “amusing.”
“This trial is for fun,” the judge proclaimed at one point.
Many online did not see the humor in SNL’s parody, arguing that a case involving domestic abuse accusations should not be a punchline. Some said the sketch was “disgusting and desperate.”
“Domestic violence is not a joke. Rape is not a joke,” writer Ella Dawson tweeted. “Abusers using the legal system to continue to terrorize their victims is not a joke. Abusers using accusations of defamation to silence their victims is not a joke.”
“In twenty years people are going to look back at this trial and all of the media coverage and be disgusted,” Dawson continued.
“You’re free to have absolutely no opinion on the Depp/Heard trial, but thinking it’s ‘for fun’ is for someone with a diseased heart and brain,” Meredith Haggerty, the senior culture editor at Vox, wrote.
Many felt that regardless of how someone feels or who they support in this case, those making fun of Heard are “making a joke of victims everywhere.”
Criticism of Media’s Trial Coverage
Others argued this sketch was part of an overall disturbing trend in the media’s coverage of this case where serious allegations were being played up for laughs.
The hashtag #JusticeForJohnnyDepp has trended on Twitter several times throughout the trial as fans defend the actor. Many also use it to mock Heard, share clips of her crying, and in some cases, spread misinformation about her courtroom claims. The tag is also popular on TikTok, where it has been viewed over 11 billion times as of Monday morning.
Many of the videos involve jokes about the case, memes, fan cams, and other content meant to belittle Heard. On TikTok, the tag #AmberTurd has raked in over 1.6 billion views. Some videos involve animated renderings of courtroom videos meant to make Heard look careless or dumb. Others use audio of Heard alleging that Depp hit her along with silly imagery to make those claims look like a farce. Many involve people making fun of the way Heard has cried on the stand.
Experts have told numerous media outlets that by ridiculing Heard, Depp’s supporters are potentially harming abuse victims that may come across these posts.
“I can’t imagine what this might be doing to someone who may eventually want to seek safety and support,” Ruth M. Glenn, the chief executive officer of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, told NBC News. “Whether it’s Amber Heard or Johnny Depp, how dare us make fun and make light of someone who is sharing something very personal — no matter how we feel about that person.”
The trial is being broadcast live so interested parties can watch it unfold in real-time. The viral clips have allowed the case to become a massive entertainment spectacle.
Public discourse of the trial has sorted people into either “Team Depp” or “Team Heard,” and just a quick glance online will show that Depp has so far won a good portion of public favor. Still, no matter how one views the trial, many think jokes at the expense of Heard’s claims are a bridge too far.
“In the commentary, it’s almost as if people are forgetting that this is real life, that this is not a show that we’re all watching,” Laura Palumbo, communications director at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, told USA Today. “Many victims of domestic violence and sexual assault will go into a courtroom at some point and have an experience that is largely outside of their control, in a setting like this.”
“There’s such a strong desire in the public discourse for [Heard] to be the villain, for her to be the example of the fact that there are victims who have ulterior motives, that there are victims who are not telling the full truth,” Palumbo continued. “It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of folks thinking critically or wanting to understand the nuances of abuse or of unhealthy relationships.”