News & Politics

Liberals Enraged as the BBC 'Gives a Platform' to 'Fascist' Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro, host of his online political podcast The Ben Shapiro Show, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, MD on February 22, 2018 (Photo by Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

On Friday, Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro cut short an interview with British conservative Andrew Neil on the BBC show Politics Live. Neil was extremely hostile to Shapiro, but that is the style of his show. Shapiro apologized for going on the show unprepared, and people got a good laugh at the man who’s famous for saying, “Facts don’t care about your feelings.” Yet some liberals voiced a very strange complaint about the episode: They attacked the BBC for “giving” Ben Shapiro “a platform.”

“BBC made fringe electoral failure Nigel Farage into a household name by giving him a seat in every debate programme (while elected decent people like [Caroline Lucas] got sidelined). Now a day after claiming virtue when sacking Danny Baker it gives a platform to Ben Shapiro,” Will Black, an anthropological journalist with HuffPost, tweeted.

Calling Shapiro “to the right of Hitler,” Black added, “Giving platforms to extremists like Ben Shapiro isn’t justified just because they make a fool of themselves. Far-right fans often don’t even notice that and if they do it just ramps up the victim status. All the whole thing does is spread the virus and make it seem normal.”

“I’m really not one for BBC-bashing, but having someone as openly, proudly prejudiced as Ben Shapiro on Politics Live is a terrible error of judgement,” The Guardian‘s Peter Walker tweeted.

“I have today decided to turn off the BBC, a broadcaster I’ve long enjoyed & appreciated. Nevertheless, it’s unconscionable that I support with my viewership a broadcaster that provides carte blanche platforms to Tommy Robinson, Steve Bannon, Ben Shapiro, Douglas Murray, Nigel Farage,” Adam Walker, a HuffPost commentator and Ph.D. candidate in Islamic history, announced on Twitter.

Lori Witham also threatened to drop the show because Neil agreed to “to normalize Ben Shapiro.” She tweeted, “This is who you promote on your show. As a viewer since day one, if you continue to normalize Ben Shapiro I will be done forever. He diminished a women’s right to body autonomy, demeans Jewish people who disagree with him & stereotypes groups of people.”

“The sad thing is that a State-sponsored outlet like the BBC gave the whiny little fascist any platform at all,” Michael Salamone, a podcaster with 17,000 followers on Twitter, said of Shapiro.

https://twitter.com/MichaelSalamone/status/1126890801181667330

“Truly unbelievable Ben Shapiro is on BBC’s Politics Live. He believes most Muslims are radical, is a vile racist about Arabs & his Twitter was visited by the far-right Quebec terrorist 93 times in the month before the shooting Vile Islamophobia clearly not a barrier for being on,” Miqdaad Versi, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, tweeted.

London-based editor Umair Haque complained about Vox’s strategy of “give all the disgusting extremists a platform,” when Vox interviewed Shapiro.

https://twitter.com/umairh/status/1126461267072442369

Rob Burley, the editor of Politics Live, responded to the criticisms in a series of tweets. “There is, understandably, a strong reaction to us interviewing Ben Shapiro on today’s [Politics Live],” Burley admitted. “We do so because he has millions of followers on social media and is hugely influential, particularly among young people worldwide. We could ignore that or … we can do our job and challenge with tough questions put by Andrew Neil.”

Burley argued that “Shapiro is actually ‘platformed’ when he speaks, unchallenged, to 5.2million on Facebook, 2.1m on Twitter and 1.5m on Instagram. If you are worried about this you should watch this very tough interview.” He further noted that “in March 2019, Shapiro’s podcast was the 2nd most listened to in the US, he has written a bestselling book and has a huge number of YouTube followers and views. These are all platforms where he puts his ideas out there unchallenged. An interview with [Andrew Neil] is quite different.”

“He is not being normalised in this interview but challenged for views many regard as disturbing and extreme,” Burley concluded. “These views are getting into the phones and computers of millions. Too many, we think, to ignore. So we asked [Andrew Neil] to interview him. Please watch the interview.”

This straightforward reasoning provoked even more angry responses.

“This is a naive excuse for giving [Ben Shapiro] – well known for his anti-Muslim racist views a BBC platform. It doesn’t matter whether [Andrew Neil] is a robust interviewer or not bec 1/you’re still giving a racist a public platform 2 amplify his views 2/it doesn’t reduce his popularity,” Zubaida Haque, deputy director at Runnymede, a British race equality think tank, tweeted.

“The BBC says it’s giving Ben Shapiro a platform because he has millions of followers on social media. In 2010 Shapiro tweeted: “Israelis like to build. Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage,” journalist Hyder Abbasi, formerly with Al Jazeera, tweeted.

In the actual interview, Neil took Shapiro to task for his aggressive debating style, noting the many videos entitled “Ben Shapiro destroys…” Shapiro eventually accused Neil of being a lefty and cut the interview short.

On Twitter, Shapiro conceded defeat but had fun with Neil. “[Andrew Neil] DESTROYS Ben Shapiro! So that’s what that feels like ;) Broke my own rule, and wasn’t properly prepared. I’ve addressed every single issue he raised before; see below. Still, it’s Neil 1, Shapiro 0.”

With this tweet, the Daily Wire editor included a link to a list of all the mistakes he has ever made, apologies for them, and explanations for the things he does not consider to have been mistakes. This article argues that the comments that are seen as “anti-Muslim” or racist are taken out of context.

Right after the interview, Shapiro explained his side of the story and offered an apology. “Just pre-taped an interview with BBC’s [Andrew Neil]. 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,” he tweeted.

Many mocked him for his mistake. New York Times contributing editor Wajahat Ali tweeted, “Ben Shapiro can dish it but can’t take it. Facts don’t care about his feelings.”

Neil is indeed a conservative — he has pushed back on the groupthink climate alarmism — and he mocked the Twitter mob’s response to his decision to “give” the Daily Wire editor “a platform.”

“I see the usual twitter mob getting into a typical stushie over us interviewing people of whom they do not approve. Maybe they should watch the interview first. Coming up on Politics Live BBC2 1215,” the host tweeted.

Burley shared the video of the entire interview.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.