Dan Le Batard has never been concerned about being too meta.
Despite being a prominent member of the sports media, the Meadowlark Media co-founder has often weighed in on matters in the industry, especially regarding his former employer, ESPN.
Such was the case on Monday, when Le Batard began his podcast’s “postgame show” by discussing Undisputed‘s disappointing ratings and the recent layoffs at Barstool Sports. Le Batard used those struggles to illustrate the improbability of Mina Kimes’ rise to becoming one of the most prominent personalities at ESPN, where she just signed a contract extension that will reportedly pay her more than $1.7 million per year.
“We’ve talked before about what ESPN chose, which is they have customers and it’s their right as a business and their customers’ right as a business post-George Floyd to not want a lot of race talk or politics talk around sports. They made a choice,” Le Batard said. “And in the middle of that, Mina Kimes—and this made me so happy for her—as a former business reporter who had to prove herself to a whole bunch of people who say, ‘You never played. What the hell do you know about football?’ Well she showed them. And she shows them all the time.
“And she got paid an enormous amount of money for the time when jobs are shrinking, because she’s that good at being informed and that good at giving the information to people and getting along with colleagues, navigating a very difficult path of cavemen who don’t really want to hear from her in this America tell them about hand in the dirt football. Like what she has to overcome in this field is so much more than any man in this field. And she’s overcome it.
Le Batard proceeded to take aim at Outkick’s Clay Travis, referring to him by a familiar insult.
“Because of the politics of the day, Stugotz, she gets weaponized,” Le Batard told his co-host, Jon “Stugotz” Weiner. “People don’t want to hear from her. Outkick–good god almighty, **** stain, you have birthed an army of **** stains, man, when you go after that woman, not having any earthly idea how hard it is overcoming all the bull**** in this industry by knuckle draggers at the executive level and on social media.”
After news of her contract extension was first made public, Travis compared ESPN’s promotion of Kimes to the recent departure of Sage Steele, who left the company after settling a lawsuit in which she accused her then-employer of violating her free speech rights. Outkick’s Bobby Burack also criticized this deal with Kimes, and also ran a story mocking Kimes and her colleagues for “feuding” with Nick Adams, Alpha Male— an Australian-born conservative influencer who appears to now be playing an exaggerated version of himself.
Whether Le Batard’s primary issue in this instance is with Travis, Burack or Adams is ultimately irrelevant. In fact, the fact that it could be any (or all of) the three probably best illustrates Le Batard’s point regarding the difficulties that Kimes–or any woman in the sports media industry–faces in the modern political climate.
“I learned this on Highly Questionable watching Katie [Nolan] and Sarah [Spain] and Mina and Elle [Duncan] not be able to make a mistake because of what it would do to their credibility because of what it would do to a man who was already predisposed to think they didn’t know what they were talking about,” Le Batard said. “Not a mistake. I’m going out there making all sorts of mistakes not worried about my credibility at all–not having any doubt whatsoever and not caring that if you make a mistake, now they’re coming after your eyebrows, your chin, you better have your makeup right because they’re coming after every part of you because it’s a feeding frenzy of angry piranhas. Many times, men in this business, who you can’t tell whether they love women or hate women. But they don’t want them sometimes talking about sports.”
Added producer Mike Ryan Ruiz: “We’ll get to true equality when a woman in media can mistake Jake Owen for Aaron Rodgers and get away with it. To somehow spin that into a win. Because Stugotz can simply not exist as a woman.”