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Media Meltdowns

Aaron Rodgers And ESPN Are A Match Made In Desperation

Aaron Rodgers on the Pat McAafee show

On Tuesday, injured New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers made his weekly appearance on ESPN's The Pat McAfee Show and did what he usually does: say some dumb shit in order to get attention. This time, however, he might have gotten himself in some actual trouble for it.

About 30 minutes into Rodgers's hourlong segment with McAfee and co-host/swaying NPC A.J. Hawk, the conversation turned to conspiracy theories. As Rodgers was starting to make a point about how the color schemes on the last few Super Bowl logos have predicted the Super Bowl matchups, Hawk interjected with, "Does this have something to do with the Epstein list that came out?" referring to the client list of deceased financier and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, which is set to be revealed as part of ongoing court proceedings. "That's supposed to be coming out soon," Rodgers said. "There's a lot of people, including Jimmy Kimmel, who are really hoping that doesn't come out."

So what you've got here is Rodgers, who is compensated for his appearances on McAfee's show, being paid by Disney to go on one of its networks and imply that a late-night television host on one of its other networks is a pedophile. Rodgers's comments were eventually sucked into the collective QAnon fever dream, which led to a lot of wild shit being said about Kimmel in various dingy corners of the internet. That was surely an unpleasant experience for Kimmel and his family, which is probably why he threatened legal action against Rodgers. "Dear Aasshole," Kimmel wrote on Twitter, "for the record, I’ve not met, flown with, visited, or had any contact whatsoever with Epstein, nor will you find my name on any 'list' other than the clearly-phony nonsense that soft-brained wackos like yourself can’t seem to distinguish from reality. Your reckless words put my family in danger. Keep it up and we will debate the facts further in court."

There's no need to ask why Rodgers does stuff like this—again, he wants lots of attention—but it is fair to ask what ESPN thinks it is doing by continuing to pay this guy to appear on what is supposed to be the crown jewel of its afternoon programming block. If you were to corner an ESPN executive and ask them to explain the decision to dedicate so much programming time to airing Rodgers's drowsy grievances, they'd probably tell you that Rodgers is worth the investment because he's "interesting," and that ESPN needs to do everything it can to stay interesting in this era where nobody is watching TV and the cultural cachet that the network once held in the early days of SportsCenter is all but gone.

The irony is that there is nothing at all interesting, or even particularly provocative, about Aaron Rodgers. We've been over this before, but his entire personality is derived from the fact that he reads Twitter a lot and listens to Joe Rogan's podcast. That's all he has going on. There's a slot machine inside his head, and every day it cycles through the 10–12 concepts and phrases he pretends to understand until a new thought is formed. On Tuesday it was Conspiracies. Jimmy Kimmel. Epstein. Tomorrow it might be Dr. Fauci. Go Woke Go Broke. Hunter Biden's Laptop. This doesn't make Rodgers interesting. It makes him like everyone else. Millions of people in this country have built their personalities around the fact that they read Twitter all day and listen to Joe Rogan's podcast, and I would bet that a good chunk of those people make up The Pat McAfee Show's daily audience. ESPN isn't making itself edgier or more interesting by continuing to put a pouty 40-year-old on the air to whine about whatever he wants for an hour. It's just playing to the base, and making itself dimmer and dumber than it already was in the process.

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