All That and a Bag of Mail: My Book Is Almost Out Edition

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It’s Friday, rejoice!

My new book, “Republicans Buy Sneakers, Too,” is officially shipping now as well. It should be in every major bookstore in the country on Tuesday. It’s $17 on Amazon for the hardback book and just $20 for nine hours of me reading unabridged audio. I don’t ask for much from you guys when it comes to paying for my content — virtually everything I’ve ever done over the past 15 years is free — but this book is a big deal to me and I’d really appreciate if you could buy the book or the audio book. 

And if you like it, if you could also pass it along to a friend. (Or buy one for them too.) I’d especially like it if you passed along a copy of the book to someone who hates me too.

So please go do that today.

FYI, if you want an autographed copy, you can sign up for the Outkick VIP and everyone will get an autographed copy as part of that yearly subscription. I’ve got so many obligations for radio, TV, and the site now that I won’t be traveling and doing many public signings so that’s the easiest way to make it happen.

Okay, here we go with the mailbag.

George writes:

“With everything going on with Supreme Court nominee Bret Kavanaugh I was thinking I would be so screwed if I ever am in a position of power because I grew up in the age of smartphones. I am sure this goes for just about everyone my age, pretty much everything we did in college is on someone’s phone, texts we’ve sent, shotgunning beers, hooking up with chicks.. you know college stuff. 

My question is do you think when I’m say 40 (22 now) and people in my age are getting into positions of power or notoriety that society will be desensitized because everyone will have dirt on everyone OR will only people who have been in the library their whole lives be able to rise to the top.”

This is a great question that I’ve contemplated quite a bit.

I actually think this is why celebrities make good political candidates now — because all of their dirty laundry is already out there in public and it’s hard to shock people.

Most traditional political candidates would have been eliminated by Donald Trump’s past history, but he wasn’t because he’s a celebrity and we feel like we “know” Trump. Once we feel like we know you, a public figure only gets blown up for his past, present or future if it’s something unexpected.

For instance, I don’t think Trump having an affair with Stormy Daniels moves the needle against him because I think most people assumed that kind of thing already happened. (The same thing was true of Bill Clinton with Monica Lewinsky). The perfect example of this is Charles Barkley getting a DUI while driving to get a blow job from the woman who gives the best blow jobs in Arizona. How do we know this happened? Because it was in the police report!

But how did American sports fans respond?

We all laughed it off and Barkley only missed one day of work.

Because Barkley seems like the kind of guy who would get a DUI driving to get a blow job from a woman in Arizona and admit to all that in a police report. His arrest just confirmed the expectations of him that we already had.

So to answer your question, I think it will depend on what kind of public image the candidate has. If you’re playing yourself off as extremely religious and it turns out there are eight sex tapes of you, you look like a hypocrite and it’s likely to harm you. If your college or high school videos reflect the kind of person you appear to be as an adult, then no one will even care.

But I also think you’re right that the general level of outrage will have to diminish when everyone is on video or in photos behaving “inappropriately.”

The reason I put inappropriately in quotation marks is because I believe we’re partly enforcing, through social media, an artificial level of moral rectitude. Are there really people out there who are surprised that a 17 year old boy tried to hook up with a 15 year old girl at a drunken high school house party? And that it went awkwardly? Where were these people during high school?

Kavanaugh denies that he did anything that has been alleged, but, to me, the biggest story here is that even if everything she said is true, this wouldn’t have been a crime in 1982 or 2018. There’s a difference between criminal behavior and uncouth behavior. I don’t believe uncouth behavior by a teenager should preclude an adult from a job 36 years later. Hell, this is the entire reason we have a juvenile justice system, because we don’t believe juveniles should have to be held responsible as adults for every decision they made as kids.

I think it’s going to take reasonable, honest people of all political persuasions to stop personally attacking people because you disagree with them politically. The politics of personal destruction, I think, has been a failure on all counts. It has driven reasonable people without perfect pasts out of the political universe.

There are plenty of reasons you can dislike Bret Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination — I happen to disagree with him on abortion, gay marriage, and the death penalty — but if I were a senator I’d vote for his nomination. That’s because I think automatically opposing the Supreme Court choice made by the opposing party is just bad for the country.

Kavanaugh is a perfectly reasonable selection by a Republican president and what he did or didn’t do at 17 years old isn’t material to me as to how he’ll rule as a judge. (Also, let me say this, I think all of us misremember high school stories and sometimes build those memories into larger stories than they were then and propagate falsehoods, often without ill intent. While Kavanaugh denies this incident happened, why do assume, even if it actually happened, that this woman’s recollection is perfect after 36 years?)

Finally, I am so tired of people responding to stories like these based on identity politics. In the past several years we have had several he said-she said stories that I’ve written or talked about on Outkick. In some of them — Peyton Manning and Ezekiel Elliott — I believed the guy and in some of them — the Courtney Smith and Ohio State mess as well as Jameis Winston’s accuser — I believed the woman.

Do you know how that happened? Because I looked at the individual facts of each case as opposed to the race and gender of the story participants to dictate what I believed.

Here’s my analysis on yesterday’s show.

Greg writes:

“After seeing Rutgers lose to Kansas this past weekend, I started to wonder if there ever has been another college football team that has parlayed one outstanding season into a bigger payday than Rutgers?  
Rutgers was 11-2 in 2006, and essentially parlayed this season, along with a couple eight and nine win seasons in the years after, into an invitation to join the B1G.  Between 1980 and 2005 they had six winning seasons.  They had an eight win season in their first year in the B1G (2014), and have had two four win, and one two win season since.
Is this the ultimate case of being in the right place, at the right time?  College football was being shaken up with realignment at this time, and Rutgers just happened to be good at the right time.
Makes me wonder which other school would have been invited to join the B1G if it wasn’t Rutgers.”
I think Rutgers to the Big Ten will end up being an awful decision because the only reason Rutgers got into the Big Ten was television markets. (Contrary to your presumption, I don’t think success on the football field factored in very much.) And I think those television markets were predicated on the idea that the cable bundle was going to continue to exist as it existed at the turn of the century for the next several generations.
And I just don’t buy that.
I think the only thing that will matter in the years ahead is brand. That is, how good is the brand of team or how good is the brand of the conference? The SEC has the premium brand in all of college athletics right now and the Big Ten’s brand, I believe, is much weaker because of the addition of Rutgers.
To me there are only two really big brands left out there that could switch conferences at some point in the future — Oklahoma and Texas.
And I think the Big Ten desperately needs both schools.

Pace writes:

“As a Florida State fan, I’ve had a rough 3 weeks. My question today is, do you think that all the heat that Taggart is getting right now is fair?  Why isn’t Scott Frost or Chip Kelly getting the same reaction nationally?  I get that FSU has better players all over the field, but Jimbo left us with possibly the worst offensive line in the history of college football and almost no linebackers. How can someone who did so poorly in their last 2 years at a program get paid $75 million and not catch any blame for the struggles of the new coach. 
My second question is, who in your mind gets their program turned around the quickest. Taggart, Frost or Kelly. 
Just pre-ordered your book and can’t wait to read it.”
First, Chip Kelly and Scott Frost have certainly gotten a ton of criticism. So I don’t think it’s fair to say they haven’t gotten any criticism at all.
But there’s an important distinction here, the UCLA and Nebraska jobs came open because both schools fired their coaches. That means things were not going well there. FSU would have continued to employ Jimbo Fisher for a long time to come.
On top of that Chip Kelly and Scott Frost have both proven they can take over programs and produce tremendous results. So you don’t really have to buy in to believe that Chip Kelly could win big at UCLA or Scott Frost could win big at Nebraska, both have won big already at Oregon and Central Florida, respectively.
Those situations and resumes are quite a bit different than Willie Taggart’s. Taggart took over a team that was ranked in the preseason top 25. And his team has been absolutely awful so far. Worse than that, Taggart has looked incompetent on the sideline in the process.
I also think Taggart’s season debut being on Monday night with the entire nation watching factors in here too. Many millions more people watched FSU fall on its face in the season opener than have watched any game with Chip Kelly and Scott Frost.
Most people talk about the (big) games they watch.
As for who can turn it around the most quickly, I’d vote Scott Frost because I think he’s got the quarterback he wants in Adrian Martinez.
Having said all of this, I’d be extremely nervous if I were an FSU fan right now. While I think Taggart will recruit well, I don’t think he (or his coaching staff) has given any indication that they will coach that talent well. So I’d be talking to Taggart about his staff in the offseason. How do we put the best offensive and defensive coordinator out there for him? That would be my goal.

James writes:

“As you may have seen, the ACLU recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of several plaintiffs against Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill alleging a violation of their First Amendment rights when he blocked them on Twitter.  This coupled with the federal judge in New York who in May declared that President Trump can’t block twitter users has got me thinking about the reach of the First Amendment.  As a graduating law student in May, I am certainly not dumb by any objective measure and have spent a lot of time thinking about this.  

For starters, the ACLU lawsuit in Alabama is honestly a waste of judicial resources in my opinion.  John Merrill has consistently been regarded as one of the most open and accessible politicians in the state.  In fact, he consistently publishes his cellphone number for others to get in touch with him (it’s 334-328-2787 in case anyone was wondering).  Moreover, he blocked these users on his PRIVATE account, not the official Secretary of State account which I think that makes a big difference.   Could it be possible for an elected official to use his or her private account in such a way that it amounts to government use?  Sure, but I think such a case would be rare.Everyone can also still see the tweets of his private account by simply googling it and making sure you are logged out of any account.  It honestly blows my mind that the ACLU is wasting its money here- in Alabama of all places.  

Now, the general proposition that blocking someone on Twitter infringes their First Amendment rights is interesting.  People often don’t realize this- the First Amendment not all-encompassing.  It remains subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions; meaning your speech can be curtailed subject to certain rules. For example, no camping out in the national mall even if it’s for a protest.  Additionally, certain language and imagery has always been thought to be left out of First Amendment protection as crude.  So simply blocking someone on Twitter should never per se be a First Amendment violation.  

Twitter is arguably, however, a public forum.  The Supreme Court in Packingham v. North Carolina actually held that a North Carolina statute which made it a felony for a registered sexual offender to access a social media website was unconstitutional as a restriction on free speech. 

I have always understood the First Amendment to mean a right to speak and voice your opinion to the public.  These lawsuits almost seek to expand that right to a right to force a politician to listen.  While I agree that politicians gain public confidence when being open to criticism, is it really punishment to block a user from seeing your tweets?  If Twitter is a public forum, should it be classified as more of a public utility rather than a private entity?  We’ve always understood that Twitter could block/ ban its users as a private company but does it change if courts declare that politicians can’t block users?  Would love to get your thoughts and can’t wait to read the new book.”  

This is an absolutely fantastic email asking a multitude of serious and good questions that I’ve been grappling with as well.

I don’t think there are any particularly easy answers here and I don’t believe these questions really break down along political lines either. I also think, as with most issues, well framed questions provide more guidance than bright line answers.

As a general rule I don’t believe politicians should be able to block other public figures or public entities from their social media feed because I think it detracts from the marketplace of ideas, which I believe is the cornerstone of the first amendment in this country.

I’ll give you an example in my own life, many far left wing members of the sports media like Jemele Hill, Pablo Torre, and Sarah Spain, for instance, have blocked me on Twitter. That means I’m unable to see their Tweets at all. That doesn’t seem constructive to me on a public forum. Especially when I’ve rarely interacted with them and never harassed them online. They are in the marketplace of ideas just like I am. We may, and often do, disagree on stories or issues, but why does it make sense to allow them to keep me from seeing their opinions they are sharing with the public? Shouldn’t a robust first amendment militate against this regardless of your political persuasions?

So I’m sympathetic to political organizations that believe they should be able to respond to a president or an elected official’s Tweets. (Not to mention actually see them). I think that’s the very foundation of the first amendment. (Some of you will argue, well, just create another account, but I’m not going to do that. I have only one Twitter account, i shouldn’t have to create a burner account to see what other people are Tweeting on a public forum.

But I also have no problem at all with cranks being blocked by these same public accounts.

My position, which I think is threading the needle a bit here, is that Twitter shouldn’t allow a blue check mark verified account to block another blue check mark verified account. If Twitter is going to assert, via the blue check mark, that an entity is “official” or “worthy of attention” then that, to me, is an indication that Twitter believes these individuals are particularly noteworthy. So why allow those people to block other blue check marks absent targeted harassment? (Twitter should also, I believe, drastically restrict the number of verified badges it is giving out. There are way too many people with these.)

Now, to be fair, I have blocked a handful of blue check marks, but it has always been for incessant or obsessive Tweeting and tagging. I like to occasionally dive into my mentions and read them. If you send me 100 straight messages, you make that virtually impossible. So I’ve blocked a few people who do that.

Otherwise everyone that I’ve blocked has been Tweeting me obsessively and incessantly with negativity and I’m perfectly fine with blocks in this perspective. You have the right to agree or disagree with my opinion, but you don’t have the right to show up on my front lawn and protest all day long.

Which brings me to a second larger thought, I believe that every individual should have an ownership or property interest in their social media accounts. That is, I don’t believe Twitter or other companies should make values judgments and ban people like Alex Jones. Now, I think they can certainly strip him of a blue check mark, but I think Twitter’s position should be they aren’t in the business of deciding what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate on their forum so long as basic rules of decency are being followed.

And I think every user should have a property interest in their account based on the amount of time they’ve spent building up those accounts. You shouldn’t just be able to take that away.

To make an analogy that exists in the law now, I’d try to build my legal framework, if I were a judge, around the idea that Twitter, and most of social media in general, is the equivalent of a city square owned by a company. Just because the company owns the town, and all the land it is built upon, doesn’t mean the town can restrict all speech inside the city. There’s still a right to use a public forum in a privately owned space.

I also think there’s a strong public utility argument here. I think Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon and Twitter have become, arguably, the equivalent of Internet public utilities due to their scope and power. No one would expect the electric company of the water company to turn off the electricity or the water of someone they disagreed with politically. So i’m troubled when I see these companies do this to anyone, regardless of their politics because I think it sets a bad precedent.

Shelby writes:

“So first off I feel like this Mark Cuban story about the Mavs and the sexual misconduct that has been going on for years is going vastly undercovered right now. Shouldnt this be the number one story on every network right now? Also, have i gone crazy or is Cuban getting off far easier than Donald Sterling did? Cuban has outright admitted to overseeing an orgnaization that turned a blind eye to all sorts of actual abuses of women and just got fined. Sterling was forced to sell his team when he was caught in the wrong. What are your thoughts?” 

We have a hierarchy of victimization right now in this country.

Donald Sterling’s offense was against black people in a majority black league. Even though it was less directly actionable and severe than what Mark Cuban’s organization was found to have done, Sterling offended the wrong community to keep his business.

The other distinction here is Cuban claimed he didn’t have any knowledge of what was going on, whereas Sterling was secretly taped making his comments.  So one man was directly implicated in wrongdoing and the other wasn’t. But this  argument doesn’t work in Cuban’s favor either, I don’t think. You can pretty persuasively argue that Sterling’s comments were offensive, but made entirely in private. That is, they didn’t directly implicate his ownership or business stake because they were entirely private in nature. The woman who taped him was doing so to try and blackmail him and she did so without his consent.

Now I’m not defending what Sterling said, but I think it’s arguably worse for an owner that has been bragging about how involved he is with his team for over a decade to have an at work environment where sexual harassment was commonplace. Cuban’s hand-selected team president was found to have sexually harassed fifteen different women who worked for him. Fifteen! I don’t know how any owner could be blind to this if he was doing a decent job.

If it were one woman and it was a secret relationship, I can understand how something like this could happen, but fifteen is crazy.

Put it this way, if instead of women, if Cuban had employed a CEO who was proven to have racially discriminated against fifteen different black employees would Cuban get off with a $10 million donation and a tearful apology? No way.

Rather than believe in the hierarchy of victimization, I’ve got a radical idea: I think what we have to do is set acceptable standards and apply them evenly to all people regardless of the race or gender involved.

Scott writes:

“Long time follower and reader here, and I love your work.  I would love to hear your theory on the Big 10’s ineptitude.  What’s the problem?  Coaches who have been successful other places have repeatedly flopped at Big 10 schools.  Much of the Big 10 is in a densely populated area of the country, schools have first rate facilities, and huge fanbases and alumni donors.  How does the radical moderate explain the most recent display of Big 10 futility?” 

The players in the SEC footprint are far better and most Southern kids don’t want to go north for school.

There are only two schools in the Big Ten, right now, who can consistently get Southern kids to come play on their campuses: Ohio State and Michigan.

Just looking at their posted rosters, I count 28 Ohio State players and 30 Michigan players from inside the SEC footprint. (Penn State has just ten players from the SEC footprint).

I think the Big Ten has had better coaches in the past, but I think the SEC’s coaching quality has really cycled up again. I think you can make a strong argument that every SEC team, with the potential exception of Arkansas, got better coaches with their latest offseason hire.

Texas A&M is unquestionably better with Jimbo Fisher. As is, I think, Florida with Dan Mullen. I believe Tennessee upgraded with Jeremy Pruitt and Mississippi State may have even upgraded with Joe Moorhead. (It’s honestly too early to tell for sure on the latest hires).

The only one who hasn’t shown immediate signs of improvement so far is Arkansas with Chad Morris.

Why is the SEC better than the Big Ten?

It’s the players, stupid.

The SEC has had 12 straight years of producing the most draft picks. Is it any wonder the SEC also wins the most games?

Hope all of you have fantastic weekends and thanks for reading the mailbag.

Now please go buy my book!

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.