Conservative pundit Ben Shapiro abruptly ended a contentious interview with BBC host Andrew Neil. The reason for Shapiro’s premature exist was that Neil brought up racist remarks that Shapiro had uttered in the past.
The purpose of the interview was to discuss the latest book Shapiro has written, The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great. Part of the book’s subject matter made the questions about Shapiro’s past remarks relevant, as it focuses on the decline in civility in political discourse.
Neil asked if some of the policies of the Republican Party, such as their aggressive anti-abortion stances, was taking the nation to “the Dark Ages.”
This characterization upset Shapiro, who then said:
“You purport to be an objective journalist, BBC purports to be an objective, down the middle network. It obviously is not, it never has been. And you as a journalist are proceeding to call one side of the political aisle ignorant, barbaric, and sending us back to the dark ages, why don’t you just say you’re on the left.”
Neil, however, actually is right-leaning, as is evidenced by the fact that he chairs the right-wing U.K. outfit, The Spectator. He responded to Shapiro:
“Mr. Shapiro, if you only knew how ridiculous that statement is you wouldn’t have said it.”
Neil continued by pointing to videos featuring Shapiro on YouTube, such as “Ben Shapiro Destroys the Abortion Argument” and “Ben Shapiro Destroys Transgenderism and Abortion.” These were examples of times Neil argues that Shapiro’s own work contributed to “coarsening the public discourse.”
Shapiro responded to this assertion by quibbling over the video titles:
“Well, are those videos labeled by me? Why are you picking out random YouTube videos put up by people who are not me and then attributing the titles to me?”
The videos were not random, however. They were promoted on social media by the website Shapiro himself owns, The Daily Wire.
Neil also pointed out that Shapiro has said things in the past that are quite inflammatory, such as:
“Jews who vote for Obama are Jews in name only.”
Shapiro responded to this by saying that he was referencing the lack of religiosity of many ethnic Jews. Neil plowed on though, saying:
“No no no, the point you were making that Jews who vote for Obama are Jews in name only.”
After that, Neil pointed to inflammatory and racist statements Shapiro had made about Palestinians. Shapiro was clearly agitated at this point, and blasted the host’s interview questions:
“I hope you’re having fun by the way going through every old tweet I’ve ever sent to try to do gotcha-questions. If you would like to discuss something I’ve done in like the past five years, how about we do that. I have an entire website of dumb, bad things I’ve said.”
Shapiro then continued berating the BBC and Andrew Neil himself, saying:
“You talk about undermining the public discourse it seems to me that simply going through and finding lone things that sound bad out of context and then hitting people with them is a way for you to make a quick buck on BBC off the fact that I’m popular and no one has ever heard of you.”
Neil then reminded Shapiro that the BBC is not a for-profit network like American broadcasters.
Shapiro later released this statement via Twitter:
Just pre-taped an interview with BBC’s @afneil. As I’m not familiar with him or his work, I misinterpreted his antagonism as political Leftism (he termed the pro-life position in America “barbaric”) – and that was apparently inaccurate. For that, I apologize.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) May 9, 2019
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Shannon Barber is a progressive queer feminist and budding political scientist. She is passionate about issues of social justice, including but not limited to racial equality, criminal justice reform, pro-Black politics, and LGBTQ equality. She hopes to change the world, one mind at a time.