Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro appeared on BBC’s Daily Politics on Friday, where he went on a series of rants and lambasted conservative British journalist Andrew Neil for being “on the left.”
Neil, the chairman of the right-leaning magazine The Spectator, remained composed during the entire 16-minute interview while attempting to ask Shapiro, who was there to promote his latest book, about American politics.
After Neil asked him about the “heartbeat bill” that just passed in Georgia, Shapiro, who is anti-abortion even in cases of rape, flipped out.
“Are you an objective journalist or an opinion journalist?” began Shapiro, before talking over Neil. Shapiro insisted that Neil be “honest about your own bias,” as the host calmly explained that his “job is to question those who have strong views and put an alternative to them.”
When Neil asked if laws banning abortion after six weeks would be taking society back to the Dark Ages, Shapiro lashed out:
“You purport to be an objective journalist. The BBC purports to be an objective, down the middle network,” he said. “It obviously is not and it never has been. And you as a journalist are proceeding to call one side of the political spectrum ignorant, barbaric and sending us back to the Dark Ages. Why don’t you just say that you’re on the left?”
Neil laughed at the response and simply said, “Mr. Shapiro, if you only knew how ridiculous that statement is you wouldn’t have said it, so let’s move on.”
The rest of the interview continued to be just as hostile, while Shapiro insisted that Neil should read his book and that no one had ever heard of Neil.
Shapiro cut the interview off by saying, “I’m not inclined to continue in an interview with a person as badly motivated as you as an interviewer so we’re done here, I appreciate your time.”
Neil simply added, “Well, thank you for your time and showing that anger isn’t part of political discourse.”
The interview has since gone viral on social media. Prior to that, Shapiro did tweet a response to his antics in the pre-taped conversation and told his Twitter following on Thursday that he “apologizes” for his misinterpretation of Neil’s “antagonism.”
Neil has been mostly retweeting comments about the interview on his own Twitter page but also urged people to watch the “full uncut 16 minutes.”
Shapiro has long been an incendiary figure. In January, he claimed he would not have aborted baby Adolf Hitler.
“The argument, I guess here, is that would you kill baby Hitler?” said Shapiro, in what appeared to be a response to a question submitted online. “And the truth is that no pro-life person on earth would kill baby Hitler, because baby Hitler wasn’t Hitler, adult Hitler was Hitler. Baby Hitler was a baby. What you presumably want to do with baby Hitler is take baby Hitler out of baby Hitler’s house and move baby Hitler into a better house where he would not grow up to be Hitler, right? That’s the idea.”
The 35-year-old’s appearance on BBC was contested by some on social media who argued that they didn’t understand why he was continuing to get a platform.
Rob Burley, an editor of BBC Live Political Programmes on Twitter, tweeted an explanation for Shapiro’s appearance, saying that because Shapiro is so “hugely influential, particularly among young people worldwide,” the BBC couldn’t ignore him and had to “do our job and challenge with tough questions put by [Neil].”
“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,” said Burley.
He went on to say that in addition to his bestselling book and YouTube followers, Shapiro’s podcast was the second most listened to in the United States in March 2019 and that these are “all platforms where he puts ideas out there unchallenged.”
“He is not being normalised in this interview but challenged for views many regard as disturbing and extreme. These views are getting into the phones and computers of millions. Too many, we think, to ignore. So we asked [Neil] to interview him. Please watch the interview,” he insisted.