Ben Shapiro is supposedly one of the few sane voices left in American conservatism–or, at least, one of the few prominent conservatives who hasn’t built an altar to Donald Trump. That’s why it was rather surprising to see him crash and burn in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil.
The interview, which aired on BBC Two’s “Politics Live,” got very testy early on. Watch here.
Neil asked Shapiro about some of his more incendiary tweets and articles in recent years, such as his claim that “Israelis like to build, Arabs like to bomb crap.” He also wondered if the recent spate of “heartbeat bills,” which would have the effect of banning most abortions in the jurisdictions where they are in force, would take America back to the “dark ages.”
Shapiro lost it, saying that neither Neil nor the BBC had any business calling themselves objective. Shapiro mused that if Neil believed pro-lifers like him were “barbaric,” he might as well admit that he’s a leftie. After accusing Neil of taking his earlier statements out of context, he huffily ended the interview.
Apparently Shapiro didn’t know that Neil is a conservative. He runs The Spectator, a longstanding conservative-leaning magazine. Before then, he rose to prominence as editor of The Sunday Times, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch.
He also obviously didn’t know that British journalists suffer no fools. Unlike most journalists on this side of the pond, most European journalists that there is no bias in calling a spade a spade. It’s part of the reason that the political climate in much of Europe is much more civilized compared to the culture here in the States.
To his credit, Shapiro admitted that Neil had mopped the floor with him on international television.
Earlier, he apologized for calling Neil a liberal.
Well, with all due respect, Ben, if you’d done your homework, you should have known what you were getting into. For instance, take this interview Neil himself conducted with Alex Jones in 2013.
Jones ranted about every conspiracy theory under the sun–the Bilderbergs, the banks, etc. Neil was having none of it and cut the interview short, calling Jones “an idiot” and “the worst person I’ve ever interviewed.”
Or take Trump’s first joint press conference as president with British prime minister Theresa May. The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg threw a number of Trump’s more unhinged statements on the campaign trail back at him. Watch here.
Or consider what happened when Pete Hoekstra took up his post as the American ambassador to the Netherlands in 2018. Earlier, Hoekstra had come under fire for trying to deny peddling a common conspiracy theory among Islamophobes in the Netherlands–that the country is shot through with “no-go zones” where police literally can’t enter. He then denied the denial. Never mind that there was video footage of him saying this.
Hoekstra apologized amid a firestorm of criticism. But at his first press conference as ambassador, reporters tried to get him to fully repudiate those loony comments. Hoekstra tried to duck away, but the reporters were having none of it. Watch how it played out on Dutch television.
When Hoekstra declared for the umpteenth time that he wasn’t revisiting the matter, one reporter told him to his face, “This is the Netherlands. You have to answer questions.”
Simply put, Shapiro had no excuse for not being prepared for his face-off with Neil. A simple search on Google and YouTube would have provided ample warning about the kind of questioning he was about to endure.
While Shapiro was willing to admit that Neil had bested him, one of Shapiro’s colleagues at The Daily Wire wasn’t so willing. Editor-at-large Josh Hammer took to Twitter on Friday and called out Neil for turning the interview into a hit piece.
Neil responded to this alternative facting with some actual facts.
Later, he added that he’d been down this road many times before.
When another Shapiro supporter called Neil out for his attacks on abortion, Neil said he was merely playing devil’s advocate.
Actually making public figures tell you why they think the way they think? What a concept. Can we have more of that on our side of the pond, please?
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