How to deal with a hit piece

Clay Travis follows Owen Benjamin’s lead in dealing with a Daily Beast hitpiece:

“OutKick recently added Dr. David Chao as a staff writer. Did you ask about the medical lawsuits and six-figure settlements, probations, accusations of “gross negligence” and malpractice, and/or the DUIs prior to hiring him? In the blog post announcing his arrival, why is this information omitted? Did Dr. Chao or someone representing him ask you or anyone at OutKick to exclude that information? Do you feel it’s relevant for your readers to have this information when reading his content?”

Dr. Chao is a licensed doctor in California. Given that he’s licensed to operate on people in this country, I felt comfortable with him writing for an opinion website.

Furthermore, he’s been profiled as an NFL injury expert in the New York Times recently, written for the San Diego Tribune for years prior to joining Outkick, and is cited as an NFL injury expert, thanks to his tenure as team physician of the San Diego Chargers, throughout the Internet.

He’s not remotely controversial.

We believe in the first amendment on this site, writers don’t tell other writers what they can and can’t say. And writers certainly don’t tell the owners of this site what we can and can’t say either.

“Jason Whitlock wrote a column describing Jaden McNeil as a “martyr” who was targeted for tweeting “politically incorrect” jokes about George Floyd. Jaden McNeil is a member of the openly racist “Groyper” movement. He also promotes, works with and praises white nationalists. How and why was this information left out and did you personally edit the column? Are all of the articles on OutKick edited or are staffers allowed to post stories on the site without review?”

I asked Whitlock to respond to this question since the writer didn’t email him directly, but asked me to comment on his column. Enjoy his response.

“Karen, I honestly find this line of questioning racist and emblematic of the systemic racism practiced by busybodies in the white alt-left movement. Let me translate what you just did: “Clay, Mr. White Folks, your negro writer is out of control and published an opinion that upstanding white people disagree with. Discipline and control your negro or we will.”

Karen, I’m a PARTNER at Outkick. Clay is not my overseer. He is my partner. All due respect to Clay, but I am the most accomplished journalist at Outkick. You could argue I’m the most accomplished sports journalist in America.

I’m offended you reached out to Clay and Dr. Chao directly with questions about their work, but in typical Karen fashion chose to report me to Mr. White Folks. Did you question Kansas State president Richard Myers for not mentioning Jaden McNeil’s alleged affiliation to white nationalists in Mr. Myers’ public critique of McNeil? Like 99.99 percent of America, I’ve never heard of the Groyper movement. When I was in college I was attracted to and attended events put on by the Nation of Islam, an organized and well-known black nationalist group.

Kids experiment with dumb shit. Karen, I am the wrong negro for you to be f–king with. Go sit down.”

Of course, this preemptive exposure response is only recommended for those with sizeable audiences. What is different about this sort of hit piece than the usual media inquiry is that it is usually going to be written whether you respond to the individual writing it or not, so preemptive exposure is an opportunity to both undermine the hit piece in advance as well as highlight the elements that the hit piece’s author obviously intends to omit.

It will be interesting to see if the Outkick piece, like the Big Bear piece, fails to run after being preemptively exposed.

The very best strategy, of course, is to refer the inquiry to my media relations expert, Pax Dickonson.