Pundit and Daily Wire Editor-In-Chief Ben Shapiro abruptly cut off a contentious BBC interview on Friday after he deemed the interviewer as partisan and uninterested in accurately quoting the book Shapiro was on to promote.
BBC’s Andrew Neil began the interview with the dry flatness typical of British media but the interview quickly turned tense when Neil approached Shapiro’s views on abortion and political divisiveness. When the British interviewer asked about Georgia’s new “heartbeat” law and characterized it as “barbaric”, calling “heartbeat” abortion laws “extreme and hard policies” Shapiro immediately clapped back.
“Are you an objective journalist, or are you an opinion journalist?”
In the nearly 15 minute interview Neil pressed Shapiro on his opposition to Trump, his pro-life views and the state of the conservative movement in America. At one point he mentioned that the American right seemed stagnant while the left was where the “fresh” ideas like Medicare for all and higher minimum wage were gaining popularity.
Not all ideas are good ideas. It is intellectual sneering of the highest order to suggest that only the left has new and decent ideas.
He also pointed out that none of those ideas were particularly new.
Eventually the author and “Sunday Special” host decided the interview was too biased and took a curt exit.
I’m not inclined to continue an interview with a person as badly motivated as you.
British viewers took to social media to express scorn for the American guest. Some were particularly amused that Andrew Neil was being framed as a leftist, as apparently he is not viewed as such in the U.K.
Absolutely hooting with laughter that Ben Shapiro has just accused Andrew Neil of being a terrible, biased, liberal leftie #PoliticsLive
— Jane Merrick (we are still at level 4) (@janemerrick23) May 10, 2019
Absolutely cracking interview by @afneil with Ben Shapiro, but I particularly liked the bit where Andrew Neil got accused of being a liberal leftie
— Jessica Elgot is on maternity leave 👶🏻 (@jessicaelgot) May 10, 2019
Shapiro made a half-hearted apology for misinterpreting Neil’s politics but what is being lost in the cultural divide is that “conservative” means very different things in America and Great Britain. Socialism is such an ingrained concept in the U.K. that even those who call themselves “conservatives” still lean very far to what Americans would call “the left”. Socialized healthcare, limited speech, cradle-to-grave entitlements…these are viewed as the “normal” view of any good citizen. The “monarchy nations” like Great Britain and even our neighbors to the north don’t truly comprehend American notions of freedom and their news is so filtered that they don’t typically have a nuanced or sophisticated view of American political machinations or discussions.
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
Neil’s fans may find it funny that Shapiro thinks Neil is on the left, but by American standards he most likely is exactly that.
For Shapiro’s part, he also may have been misinterpreting the cultural filter through which the conversation was taking place. As an outspoken conservative who has been commonly treated with bias and aggressively ignorant rage by many in the American mainstream media and even academia, it is only natural that he might head into the BBC interview with the mindset that he was being set up from the start. It happens all the time.
Regardless of Neil’s personal politics (he apparently is a chair on the group that owns The Spectator), one only needs to watch the interview (available in it’s entirety below) to see that the British personality’s questions quite boldly veered in an editorial direction from just about the very first words out of his mouth.
Ben Shapiro is one of the most fascinating and articulate thinkers in modern politics. He is also exceedingly polite, friendly nearly to a fault and well-liked by those on the left and the right who know him personally. His words are routinely and grossly misrepresented in mainstream media circles in ways that run shockingly contrary to who he is as a person. Even his “storming out” of that interview was done as politely as possible.
A good interviewer wouldn’t have immediately framed a narrative, but instead being genuinely interested in Shapiro’s views and particularly in the book he had been invited on to discuss.
It was not out of the question for Shapiro to end an interview that clearly was never going to allow him to fairly represent his own views.
Great Britain is amazing and the British are a wonderful people but Andrew Neil was not acting in good faith and Ben Shapiro is under no obligation to participate in any exchange he deems hostile to his person or his brand.
WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE: