Twitter Labels Jason Whitlock’s Outkick Column “Sexist”

I’m taking a break from Monday Night Football to point out a major issue that exists in media today — the often nonexistent difference between a content company, aka a publisher, and a platform company, aka a non-publisher.

Many of you may not think very much about the difference between a publisher and a platform, but what has happened to Outkick tonight is a perfect window into why that distinction is important and how it can often be artificial.

Earlier today Jason Whitlock wrote a column about Katie Nolan. It built upon a column he wrote about Maria Taylor on Sunday. I’d encourage you to go read both of those columns before you read any further here.

Put simply, the purpose of any Outkick column — a column is different than a news article — is to share an opinion. It’s an opinion you may or not may agree with, but every day Outkick shares hundreds of opinions, on the radio, on the TV, on social media sites, on this website. We are a content company that is built on opinions.

That’s our primary business.

I own Outkick, but I don’t agree with every opinion on this site. That would be impossible. The only person any one person should agree with completely in this country is yourself. (And even then you should have some doubts.) We are, put simply, a media content company.

That means we can be sued for editorial malfeasance. It means if we defame anyone, we are subject to legal consequences for our actions. We choose, collectively, which stories go up on the site every day and share them with our audience. With that decision comes responsibility under the law.

That’s how content companies work. Be they newspapers, TV networks or (most) websites.

But Twitter claims it is is different. Twitter claims to be a platform, not a content company. They only share the opinions of others, they argue not their own opinions. Therefore, Twitter argues, they aren’t responsible for the opinions other people publish on their platform. So long as they are a platform, Twitter, unlike Outkick, bears no legal liability for what is posted on its site.

But Twitter’s not always telling the truth when they claim they are just a platform, in fact they act in many ways that a publisher would on a regular basis.

Witness what happened tonight to Outkick and Jason Whitlock. Twitter chose to make Jason Whitlock trend on their platform and, significantly, they didn’t just do that, they made an editorial decision about why Whitlock was trending.

Read this:

It’s important to note exactly what’s happening here, Twitter is choosing a subject to trend and making a values judgment about why that subject is trending. That’s the very essence of being a publisher. They are publishing their own opinion.

(Someone at) Twitter is saying, “Jason Whitlock opens himself up to criticism after making sexist comments about ESPN hosts.”

I added the bold language because it’s important for all of you to see.

Look at what’s going on here, Twitter is directly deciding what to trend and then making a values judgment about what was said. They are sharing their opinions. You (hopefully) read the columns. Did Whitlock treat anyone in those columns any different than he has countless men, athletes or media figures, he has ripped for decades? In my opinion, of course not.

But maybe you disagree.

That’s fine, that’s your right.

You are entitled to publish your opinion on your website or your social media feeds and be responsible for what you say. And if you do that, you’re being held to a different standard than the platform you write on because you are the content creator. Twitter’s distributing your content to the masses and claiming they aren’t responsible for it, all while monetizing their entire business on opinions. The more people who have opinions all day long, the more money the content platforms make. (Which is why they’re all created to seduce us into caring so much about likes and retweets and attention).

But here’s the deal, Twitter isn’t behaving as a content neutral company in any way when some anonymous person we don’t know who works at Twitter is labeling Whitlock’s opinions sexist. They are directly making a determination about content that they deem objectionable and then featuring it prominently on their website. All in an effort to try and punish the person who has stepped outside the bounds of what they deem to be an acceptable opinion.

Twitter is directly impacting the marketplace of ideas in this country while claiming they aren’t involved at all. They are pretending to be content neutral when in reality they are making a calculated and direct decision to be engaged in editorial content. They are picking sides and claiming to be neutral.

Why does that matter?

Because if you are in the editorial business, you are subject to lawsuits for those opinions you share. If you’re a platform, you aren’t.

So who at Twitter decided Jason Whitlock’s comments were “sexist?” We have no idea. If I had to guess, it was probably someone working in Twitter’s trending topics division but that’s only a guess. In reality, who is that person or persons? What are their biases? Why did they try to slide in their opinion on this topic and hope no one would notice? Why did they decide to make this a trending topic? And most importantly how can Twitter claim to be an unbiased content platform when they make clear editorial decisions such as these?

Those are all fascinating questions.

Which I’m sure Jason Whitlock will be interested in discussing on Thursday of this week.

When he testifies in front of Congress about content discrimination from tech companies.

Thank you, thank you, Twitter. You honestly couldn’t have served up a more perfect example of content discrimination than what you did tonight. It should make for some fascinating Congressional testimony come Thursday.

Enjoy the subpoenas that will be rolling in after Whitlock testifies, Twitter.

And in the meantime, stop pretending that you aren’t in the editorial business when you clearly are.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.


Leave a Reply
  1. Clay I just felt like I was at a baseball game, ninth inning, tied up just after Jason hit a home run and you just followed with the homer for the game winner! My VIP membership was more than well spent to have the two of you on the side of Truth! Amen and Keep Rolling!

  2. Jason’s column was objective and well written. To label it sexist with no backing I believe is just throwing a child like tantrum. Twitter is a platform for tantrums and group think that these algorithms encourage. I wonder what society would be like to have Twitter suspended for 60 days…

  3. Twitter would argue that ‘trending’ is promotion and benefits Whitlock. Until someone brings down Google for their anti-privacy and search engine algorithm, twitter is small potato’s.

    Trump and regulators are coming for them in 2021-22.

  4. “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix- Social “platforms” and big tech artificial intelligence is turning generations of people into extremists.

    This is particular twitter offense is an egregious example of group think bias but it doesn’t even touch the much larger issue which is that social and big tech AI is training humans to hate one another.

    Best thing the average American can do is get off social media.

  5. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Apple and Google have all been doing this at least since before the 2016 election. They’ve blocked or censored countless Tweets, Posts, podcasts and manipulated search algorithms against opinions they personally disagree with. It will be seen as an obvious “pattern of behavior” that now follows them. They’ve escaped prosecution only because they all pour many millions into DC campaigns, lobbyists, and lawyers to keep what they’re doing unaddressed. It will take many politicians ceasing prostitution of their vote out to social media corporation cash for this to ever stop. Hopefully the hearings actually lead to change, but I fear they’re all for show to give the appearance that they care more about America than themselves.

  6. Couple days ago, and OutKicker referred to Twitterers as Twatters. hat’s iIngenious! (Maybe it’s been out there for awhile but I had never heard it.) In the past, Twat has been used pejoratively to describe women’s private parts; but the word has morphed into an entirely different meaning — just like the word pussy — to mean someone who is a wimp and a whiner. The concept of Twitter is brilliant. The execution has had devastating unintended consequences — giving a voice to a wide swath of weak crybabies. Every microagression becomes an opportunity to throw a fit. So weak!

  7. CORRECTION OF PREVIOUS. Couple days ago, nd OutKicker referred to Twitterers as Twatters. That’s iIngenious! (Maybe it’s been out there for awhile but I had never heard it.) In the past, Twat has been used pejoratively to describe women’s private parts; but the word has morphed into an entirely different meaning — just like the word pussy — to mean someone who is a wimp and a whiner. The concept of Twitter is brilliant. The execution has had devastating unintended consequences — giving a voice to a wide swath of weak crybabies. Every microagression becomes an opportunity to throw a fit. So weak!

  8. Of course Twitter is a publisher. What platform censures a campaign ad by the President of the US? That they censure Jason is far over the top. Yes, Jason should have submitted his article to me before publishing it (I would have approved it) but that really shouldn’t matter: Twitter exposed itself by their actions. They need to be regulated. The only thing worse that being regulated by the govt is being regulated by people who claim they are neutral in their opinions. They are the worst and should be regulated immediately.

  9. I hate twitter It’s so fake and I hope Whitlock destroys them in front of Congress. Let them become a publisher so we can sue the shit of them. Screw Twitter that piece of shit fake bull shit.

  10. “Because if you are in the editorial business, you are subject to lawsuits for those opinions you share. If you’re a platform, you aren’t.”

    You are absolutely 100% wrong about this. You are talking about Section 230 protections. These protections do NOT distinguish between Publishers and Platforms. They distinguish between *types of activity*.

    This is important, because the law as written absolutely understood that a publisher can have platform activities (for example Section 230 protects Outkick from libel lawsuits for user-generated content in this comment thread, or on your forums). And they understood that platforms can engage in content creation.

    Long story short- if you believe that Twitter’s editorial decision to call Whitlock’s column sexist is actionable, you may ABSOLUTELY sue them for it. You just need to prove that the content was written by a Twitter employee as part of their daily content creation job.

    But let’s be honest- journalists have had years to weasel out of this. All they need to do is change the wording to something like “that *some say* is sexist”, and they are fine.

    All that said, I am really enjoying this timeline. It is the best.

  11. It is so obvious that Twitter not just editorializes but using ultra leftist bias targets conservatives and manipulates the minds of their user base. However, Jason is guilty. He is guilty of being a Conservative, God loving black man who can think for himself, outside the stereotypical box who doesn’t conform and they hate him for that. The left loves when black men achieve as long as it is their way of achieving following their rules. If not they attack him as they did on Twitter. Clarence Thomas warned us about this at his confirmation and in many of his great opinions and here is just another example of the left “branding” a successful black man they disagree with because this is how egregious they are.

  12. I ‘learned’ in one of my early ‘D&I’ trainings in the immediate wake of the George Floyd conflagration at my company that ‘meritocracy’ is racist. Having that word in the title of the article probably caught the attention of the Foucault-bro cancel vultures and they had a quick huddle to figure out which ‘-ist’ to use as slander against Mr. Whitlock.

    Seriously though, the larger point remains, you can’t simultaneously call yourself a simple platform and then attach editorial labels to the content that you inevitably publish. I don’t have a law degree, but I gotta believe even bad lawyers can understand that distinction.

  13. Well said Clay and I look forward to Jason’s testimony on Thursday. The social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have been taking advantage of their Section 230 protections for far too long. There needs to be some light shown on their actions of stifling free speech.

  14. This is crazy. Democratic regulators are calling for Twitter and facebook to do more to hunt out and block discriminatory content. However, those actions are a slippery slippery slope, and this is an example. An article that is likely the opposite of sexist (highlighting truisms that others don’t want to say), is now being labeled sexist.

  15. Thanks for clarifying the content VS platform issue. I think Twitter and FB like to play the card that most suits them at the time. They shouldn’t have that luxury. Hopefully, but I won’t hold my breath, that Congress will act on this mess and start holding them accountable. When they start having to dole out $$$ like CNN (and more to come) to Nick Sandman, they will change their tune.

  16. As always you and Jason hit the nail on the head squarely. It is time to take down these little piss ants, so call human beings. Very few people use their God given brain for positive productive use. Majority of the human beings on this earth are feed up with this trash in the media, schools, and society. We are above this crap so let’s do positive productive things things like cure real life issues.

    All at Outkick continue do what you are doing. Making the world a better place. Maybe one day people will wake up and smell the roses for the first time instead of their ass.

  17. “Sexist” is the new way of calling someone rational now and days.

    “Men and women are fundamentally and physically different.” SEXIST!!!!!

    “Katie Nolan isn’t a great reporter. People only watch her for her appeal.” SEXIST!!!!

    “Maria Taylor hasn’t done or accomplished anything to make her have a vote on All-NBA teams, that’s why we question her leaving AD off the list” SEXIST!!!!!

    It’s old now. The liberals have completed their mission. Single handedly ending racism and sexism….Because if EVERYTHING is sexist and racist, then NOTHING is sexist or racist.

  18. Jason Whitlock is the voice of my generation! He speaks the truth! I’m sorry if there are snowflakes out there who get their feelings hurt but all he’s doing is holding a mirror up for you to see your true self. He’s not just the best sports writer in America he’s the best journalist and writer PERIOD! Stay strong brother and keep telling the truth!

Leave a Reply

Login to comment on this post. Not a VIP? Signup Here