Journalist of the Year: Dave Portnoy

December 31, 2020

Most professional journos have spent the last few weeks congratulating themselves for having "survived" the Trump years. As CNN's Jim Acosta wrote in his bestselling memoir, it was "a dangerous time to tell the truth in America." He would know. In 2018, Acosta's White House press pass was briefly suspended after he grappled with a female intern who attempted to take his microphone.

As is often the case, CNN could not be bested in the field of performative self-righteousness. Anchor Kate Bolduan recently wore a $380 cashmere sweater emblazoned with the words "facts first." Esquire published an "Oral History of CNN's Election Night," which chronicled the travails of political journalists struggling to provide the 24-hour news analysis that forms the backbone of our democracy.

While his colleagues in the media industry were furiously jacking each other off, Barstool founder Dave Portnoy crouched into the journalistic void, using his bully pulpit to highlight the pandemic's crippling impact on America's small businesses. It was without a doubt the finest piece of journalism produced in the Trump era. (Brian Stelter's spell-check analysis of Trump's tweets was also good.)

Portnoy wasn't done. The 2016 Free Beacon Man of the Year established The Barstool Fund — an affiliate of the successful Thirty Day Fund founded by the Virginia businessman Pete Snyder — to raise money for small business owners. In less than two weeks, the fund brought in more than $8.7 million, and helped save dozens of small businesses from financial ruin. Portnoy's FaceTime calls with grateful business owners provided the heartwarming content so many of us craved in these difficult times.

Portnoy has offered to go on any network to talk about his efforts, but thus far only Fox News has put him on the air. CNN has better things to do, apparently, like keeping track of Trump's golfing schedule.

"I didn’t think I’d be the guy doing it," Portnoy told Tucker Carlson after launching the fund. "I’d rather be sitting on a beach, betting on horses, drinking, but nobody else is going to do it. We have this big platform, so we’re going to try to help as many small businesses as we can."

For all the awards journalists keep giving themselves, few have ever done anything to deserve one.

Until now.

For perhaps the first time in human history, a media personality has made a positive contribution to society by improving the lives of working people who don't have time to follow politics obsessively on Twitter.

Dave Portnoy is no ordinary journalist. He is the 2020 Free Beacon Journalist of the Year.

Published under: Dave Portnoy