It is largely forgotten now, but the Brandon in “Let’s Go Brandon!” is NASCAR driver Brandon Brown. It was he who was being interviewed by NBC sports reporter Kelli Stavast at a NASCAR event October 2 when the then-popular “Fuck Joe Biden!” chant began to drown out the exchange. Stavast, thinking too quickly for her own good and not properly mindful of the falling credibility and trust of her profession, decided to try to cover for the crowd, NASCAR, or the President and commented that the NASCAR spectators were chanting “Let’s go, Brandon!,” which they clearly were not.
Thus a slur, a joke, a catch-phrase and a rebuke was born, one that has not only not faded, but that appears to be gaining in frequency and legend after nearly three months. And who has been harmed by the chant, other than civil discourse, respect for the office of the President, and our political culture?
Why Brandon himself, that’s who, though he is the one blameless party in the whole chain of events. The chant, he says, has killed his prospects of signing sponsorship deals, costing him untold thousands in future income.
Brown told Sports Business Journal,
If you’re a national corporation, that means you sell to all consumers … and unfortunately, when you get dragged into the political arena, people want you to take a side. I’ve never been put in a position where it’s, “OK, what side are you on? Left or right?” So it’s hard for a brand to want to attach to somebody who might be kind of divisive in their consumer base. If I’m going to divide Coca-Cola, why would they want to talk to me? So the short answer is it’s been tough to connect with partnerships just because it’s kind of viewed as a ticking time bomb: “What is he doing to choose or say and how would that effect our consumer base?” It’s too much of a risk. I understand it on their side but it’s made it really hard to tie everything down.
This is horribly wrong and unjust, but there is no one to blame. No one could have predicted that the ad-libbed phrase would become an ongoing controversy, that it would be spoken on the House floor, used to punk the President, and turn up on coffee mugs and bumper stickers.
Sometimes events spin out of control, and the dinosaurs start eating the tourists. It’s Chaos Theory in action, and chaos isn’t ethical or unethical, though it is in human nature to assign blame and assert wrongdoing when someone gets hurt.
Kim Potter understands.
Addendum: It would unfair to blame Stevast for what has befallen Brandon, but her deliberate false reporting shouldn’t be white-washed, either. The standard narrative now is that “Stavast confused a NASCAR crowd’s chants of ‘Fuck Joe Biden’ for ‘Let’s Go Brandon!,'” as the Daily Mail most recently put it.
The public’s never going to trust again you if you keep lying, guys, even when you’re just trying to be kind to a colleague.