News and Commentary

Did Dave Portnoy Put Hollywood, Inc. To Shame?
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – MAY 11: David Portnoy of Barstool Sports hosts The Pool After Dark at Harrah's Resort on Saturday May 11, 2019 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Tom Briglia/ Getty Images)
Tom Briglia/ Getty Images

Last week, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy announced a new relief fund aimed at American entrepreneurs, the kind of people who power the country. The Barstool Fund will give $500,000 to businesses to help them pay rent or taxes, assuming they’ve continually paid workers during the lockdown.

While the initial fund will consist of $500,000, Portnoy said he would raise more money if necessary to honor the commitment. Once the allotment has been used, Barstool will promote crowdfunding campaigns for other small businesses in need.

Today’s stars could do something similar, either donating cash directly to small businesses or leveraging their mighty social media accounts to inspire others to give.

So why have celebrities gone mostly quiet as lockdown policies push millions of American small businesses to the economic brink?

Even hardcore conservatives must admit celebrities can be very generous in times of tragedy. In fact, Hollywood has a healthy track record of giving back when it counts.

Celebrities rallied en masse to both boost our spirits and raise money for noble causes following the 9/11 attacks. Stars did the same after numerous weather tragedies, raising more than $135 million in the aftermath of three 2017 hurricanes alone.

When COVID-19 first shut down the country earlier this year the Hollywood elite opened their wallets and purses anew.

Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, for example, donated $1 million to food banks at the pandemic’s outset, plus $400,000 for several New York hospitals hit hard by COVID-19. They made the pledges public via Instagram.

While private donations are just as effective, going public can have a rallying effect to the public at large, or even other wealthy celebrities. That’s what “Modern Family” alum Eric Stonestreet hoped when he Tweeted his support for a local nonprofit earlier this year:

I am donating 200,000 meals to @HarvestersORG in Kansas City. Lindsay and I love our hometown and want to help do what we can. I’m only posting this to maybe motivate you to do what you can, when you can, if you can, to help vulnerable families in our community during this time.

Stars gave plenty at the pandemic’s outset, per their oft-generous nature.

That was then. Months passed, and many ordinary Americans got fed up with not just the pandemic but nationwide lockdowns that seemed more cruel than calculated to save lives.

That’s when the Hollywood messaging started to change. Late night hosts like Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel mocked Americans who resisted the oft-draconian lockdown policies. Other stars, including Albert Brooks, Patton Oswalt, and Pink, similarly scorned the protesters. Some lumped them in with Trump supporters.

The horror, the horror.

More recently Pete Davidson blasted his fellow Staten Islanders from his “Saturday Night Live” pulpit, mocking them for wanting to get their shops open once more.

That’s not just Davidson yapping. It’s a historic sketch comedy show aired on a major broadcasting network. Meanwhile, Davidson and co. continue collecting paychecks and playing to a live audience that skirts Big Apple lockdown laws.

Davidson’s rant came roughly at the same time a N.Y.-based report showed small businesses aren’t where people are catching COVID-19.

Not even close.

It didn’t help that liberal politicians from coast to coast broke their own lockdown rules to dine with lobbyists or just enjoy a restaurant meal for themselves.

Now, with a new COVID-19 relief package offering a fraction of what business owners need to stay afloat — $600 if the current iteration goes through — Hollywood stars remain mostly silent on directly helping Small Business USA.

Imagine if dozens, if not hundreds, of celebrities adopted a local hardware store, sushi restaurant, or diner and asked us to do the same, if possible. Lives could change in a heartbeat.

Maybe we’re asking too much of our brightest stars. Perhaps they’ve given all they could earlier this year. The numbers were, indeed, staggering.

They could still provide a different service now, though, one that doesn’t require spending a plug nickel.

It’s starts by understanding not everyone is still collecting paychecks, let alone the gargantuan ones they enjoy. Next, realize every small business represents a dream, and years of hard work, that people don’t want to see disappear. 

Better still? 

Stop publicly demonizing Americans eager to get back to work.

There’s a troubling footnote to this subject. Riots overwhelmed the Twin Cities in May after resident George Floyd died following a lethal encounter with Minneapolis police. Celebrities swiftly, and publicly, rallied to support the protesters, even though they may have bailed out those who committed wanton destruction … or far worse.

The Minnesota Freedom Fund, dedicated to bailing out “low-income individuals,” got a flood of donations from the likes of Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, Jameela Jamil, Don Cheadle and more. 

This reporter reached out to eight celebrities who donated to the MFF. The stars faced two simple questions:

  • Were they worried their cash might go to releasing violent criminal?
  • Did they plan to support any of the businesses, many of which were minority owned, devastated by the protests?

None of the eight responded to either query.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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