The first day of an intellectual history class in college, my professor seemed genuinely shocked to learn there were several conservatives enrolled in the seminar. “I didn’t realize that people on the right were interested in philosophy.” She had a bemused, if patronizing, smile as she said it.
BBC reporter Andrew Neil was far more sardonic in his recent and now legendary interview of Ben Shapiro. “I’m interested that you think there’s a thought movement inside the Republican Party. I mean, haven’t the conservatives run out of ideas in America?” With a question like that, it’s no wonder that Shapiro confused Neil for a leftist.
Neil framed his next question, concerning abortion, by saying “some of the ideas that are popular in your side of politics would seem to take us back to the dark ages” and characterizing pro-life laws as “extreme hard policies.” His tone was full of derision. When Shapiro took him to task for the biased framing of the question, Neil resorted to the now tired excuse that he is simply a journalist asking questions.
The rest of the interview was a masterclass on gotcha journalism, with Neil bringing up years old quotes taken out of context to suggest that Shapiro is a hypocrite and has “coarsened public discourse in America.” Shapiro repeatedly called Neil out for his tactics, but Neil continued shamelessly until Shapiro finally ended the interview.
The irony is that Neil, as Shapiro probably learned after a quick post-interview Google search, is considered by many in the U.K. to be a prominent conservative. Some even consider him too conservative for the BBC. We can see how far England has fallen. Shapiro may have blundered when he suggested Neil was on the left—but it was a blunder that went viral in (wait for it) leftist circles on social media.
Shapiro, for his part, immediately corrected his mistake and apologized for mislabeling Neil.
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
But given Andrew Neil’s supposed conservatism and his supposed objectivity as a journalist, what motivated him to go out of his way to malign Ben Shapiro with caustic statements thinly masquerading as questions and carefully curated quotes taken desperately out of context? For someone who had “never heard” of Shapiro until he briefed himself for the interview, Neil took great pains to smear him.
Apparently, many British viewers were already upset that Neil had the audacity to have Ben Shapiro on in the first place. We can only assume that having Shapiro on air and not actively smearing him would have led to full-fledged pandemonium among Neil’s audience.
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.
— Andrew Neil (@afneil) May 10, 2019
Shortly after the interview aired, Neil proceeded to retweet sycophantic reviews of his interview, including a tweet that tagged leftist YouTuber Kevin Logan.
— digitalwood (@digitalwood1) May 10, 2019
Logan is a self-proclaimed “king of the SJWs” who purports to take on “the manospherian, alt-right, anti-feminist, anti-social justice fuckwads of the world” and recently called Prager University a “used cum rag.”
The increasingly culturally enriched tapestry of British society never ceases to disappoint.
Rest assured, even though Andrew Neil may retweet leftists, Andrew Neil himself is not a leftist. Andrew Neil is just another one of those cowardly conservatives who is constantly looking for validation from his liberal friends. Andrew Neil will happily throw away all his integrity if it means that a few of the people who spend the other 364 days of the year calling him a racist troglodyte give him one “atta boy.”
But there was no better person for Andrew Neil to smear than Ben Shapiro. Shapiro has walked the fine line between being a NeverTrumper and a reasonably practical conservative, begrudgingly offering Trump tepid support when he forwards Shapiro’s preferred policies. But, in addition to occasionally falling prey to media led denouncement campaigns, like the Charlotteville hoax, he has steadfastly rejected the notion that the conservative establishment must address its failings—most importantly its seeming inability to put forward a positive vision of society beyond “hurrah, free market” and its lethargic and defeatist attitude that has squandered years of majorities in Congress.
Shapiro is no stranger to being smeared, but we can hope his latest roll in the mud will remind him—once again—that our enemies don’t mind playing dirty and that the squeaky clean “principled” conservatives can’t always get the job done. It’s a lesson that far too many, including Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr, have learned the hard way recently.
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Photo Credit: Jessica Pons/ For The Washington Post via Getty Images