Who owns MeatEater Inc? Steve Rinella's hunting show's company has an anti-gun activist as its main investor
Hollywood producer Peter Chernin has taken a controlling share in Steve Rinella's MeatEater Inc. However, the acquisitions have sparked controversy as Chernin has always been an anti-gun activist
Steve Rinella’s TV show ‘MeatEater’ has always been a rage among people who like to hunt animals. The show, hosted by Rinella, follows the star as he travels across vast wildernesses hunting various kinds of animals. He hunts everything from birds to bears. Apart from being a skilled hunter, Rinella is also a great cook and nothing he kills on the show goes to waste.
The outdoorsman shows his culinary prowess on the show by cooking the animals he killed during the show and satisfies his viewers. ‘MeatEater’ began in 2012 and ran for six seasons on the Sportsman Channel. In 2018, the outdoors hunting television program premiered on Netflix and since then, it has been part of the streaming platform’s catalog.
'MeatEater': Steven struggles to take a perfect shot at Wyoming's mule deer due to extreme winter conditions
The show sparked a controversy in 2019 after a right-leaning publication, The Federalist, reported about an investor who acquired a controlling interest in the show and MeatEater Inc — The Chernin Group.
Here's a look at the controversy that has been haunting the show for the last couple of years.
Rinella started an outdoor-lifestyle company MeatEater Inc following the show’s success. Based in Boseman, Montana, the company was formed in 2018 in order to provide assistance to wildlife enthusiasts and others who love hunting and fishing. It started as a company that revolved around Rinella and his popular TV show. But the company decided that it will also develop additional content to cater to its fan base.
Later that year, renowned Hollywood producer and well-known supporter of the Democratic Party Peter Chernin became the principal investor for MeatEater Inc. The Chernin Group thought it was a great opportunity to grow an “authentic brand” catering to the hunting and outdoor-lifestyle market and invested in the company.
Chernin has a history of supporting candidates of the Democratic Party and has donated a huge amount of money to many presidential campaigns. He donated $50,000 to Joe Biden's presidential campaign and admitted that he wants the leader of the Democratic Party to win the election.
“With a passionate audience of Steven Rinella fans, a large addressable market of sporting enthusiasts, and a broad cultural acceptance of the merits of conservation and responsible food procurement, MeatEater is poised to be a transformative brand,” Jason Bergsman, executive VP at The Chernin Group said in a press release about its association with MeatEater Inc.
Initially, all the details regarding the deal were kept under wraps and very little was known about it. However, in 2019, AXIOS came out with a report that the company poured in $50 million of “additional capital” into the franchise. “From a media perspective, this space is historically underserved with digitally native brands,” Bergsman said.
At the time, Mike Kerns, President of Digital at The Chernin Group, said, “The Meat Eater brand and content rally cuts across the whole country. The podcast performance for the brand is actually strongest in big DMAs like the Bay Area, Southern California, the Northwest as well as Mid-West.”
Everything was fine until a right-leaning publication The Federalist came out with a story that shocked people. In its piece, the media outlet claimed that the owner of the Chernin Group is an “anti-gun activist”.
“The left-wing, anti-gun political activism of MeatEater’s largest investor, as well as political commentary and activity from some of its key partners and sponsors, complicates the company’s expansion plans given that such a large percentage of hunters in the United States — who comprise MeatEater’s core audience — staunchly support both gun rights and Republican political candidates,” the publication said.
The controversy erupted because Chernin has never been in the support of people having guns and has repeatedly attacked gun rights. In 2018, according to a claim by The Federalist, he retweeted comedian Michael Ian Black’s tweet in which he attacked the National Rifles Association and called it a “terrorist organization”.
On the other hand, he also voiced his disappointment in killing animals for pleasure and “trophy hunting” in the past. Chernin also endorsed a “ban” on such activities. Additionally, the 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' producer signed a petition demanding a federal ban on semi-automatic weapons.
A majority of the criticism at the beginning of The Federalist’s article focuses on gun control. In the midst of the controversy, Rinella has categorically made it clear that he “never supported any weapons bans”. During an email conversation with The Federalist, the host also announced that he would not let Chernin’s personal views on policies “exert influence” on the content created by MeatEater.
The article caused a mild uproar from fans, but it did not stop them from watching the show. The seventh and eighth seasons garnered favorable reviews and the Chernin Group has already doubled their investment in the company by pouring an additional $50 million into the company, as mentioned above.