Late in the debate Sunday night with Cenk Uygur, Ben Shapiro, fed up with Uygur obfuscating the issue on money in politics, fired off a question that resulted in one of the two biggest ovations of the night (the other one is here.)
The exchange prompting the question at the end started like this:
Shapiro: And you think the government is in the business of regulating business. So, if the government is in the business of regulating business, what would be the problem with the government telling Buddy Roemer he is not allowed to invest in your business?
That prompted a long rambling rant from Uygur:
No, those are two different issues. No problem; no problem. It’s one thing to say hey, let’s set reasonable limitations on what can happen around elections, which is what most developed countries do. And they have different versions of that rule; you can’t run ads within a certain period of time, you have public financing versus private financing. Those are rules around an election. That’s a completely different issue than the government saying randomly you can’t invest in businesses?
Shapiro, bluntly, “Why?”
Uygur, evading, “So you’re conflating two issues that have nothing to do with one another?”
Shapiro, relentless: “Why?”
Uygur, throwing up a smokescreen and making no sense: “Hey, what does ‘why’ mean? You believe in education, so why don’t you believe in health care?”
Shapiro: “Because it’s a free country, and I get to spend my money wherever I damn well please.”
After sustained applause, Uygur said, “I gotta ask him. I gotta ask him. So you damn well please. So when the Koch brothers or Bloomberg or Soros puts in hundreds of millions of dollars into elections, you think, ‘They’re doing it because they’re good guys. They damn well please buying all those politicians.’ Or you think, ‘No, the politicians would never be affected by hundreds of millions of dollars in legalized bribes.’ And you can’t just spend your money anywhere you want; of course there are rules; you can’t bribe people, there’s many things you can’t do with your money.”
Shapiro, trying to get a word in, “Right.”
Uygur, still ranting: “One of those things should be politicians, but we made it legal.”
Shapiro, trying: "Cenk – "
Uygur, still ranting, "Here is what your opinion on that is; you think they are 'Golly, shucks, they just mean well?'"
Shapiro: "Cenk, Cenk, you’re a lawyer, so you know that bribery requires two parties to the bribe. If I give money to a politician there must be something in return. If there is no quid pro quo, there is no bribery."
Uygur, bellowing: "You mean there’s nothing in return? You think the politicians don’t do those favors?”
Shapiro: "No, I think there is very often something in return, but I want you to point me to the things that are in return, not just say that all spending on politics ought to be forbidden except for The Young Turks."
Uygur, completely either missing or ignoring Shapiro’s point about The Young Turks being funded: “No, that is of course not what we say. If you want to get money out of politics and then you said The Young Turks cannot donate money to politicians I’d say, ‘Of course. That’s the whole point of getting money out of politics.’”
Shapiro, laughing that Uygur would completely ignore the point, “Cenk, Cenk, c’mon.”
Uygur, being entirely disingenuous himself: “So this idea — It’s so disingenuous; even if you’re a Republican and you’re a conservative, you think there isn’t crony capitalism? You think that that 4.4 trillion dollars – “
Shapiro: "Cenk – "
Uygur: "– isn’t because they got campaign donations. You know it’s because they got campaign donations."
Shapiro, finally able to get a word in, fired off the bazooka question that prompted the huge ovation: “Final thing on this: So, Young Turks is super successful; you have eighty million uniques; it’s wonderful.”
Uygur: "Thank you."
Shapiro: "Do you think Bernie Sanders would care more if you gave him ten thousand dollars or if you dedicated your network to kissing his ass for an election cycle?"