Last Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Indiana announced that a 21-year-old vile neo-Nazi piece of human detritus — who, per longstanding Daily Wire policy, shall remain nameless — would receive a three-year sentence in federal prison for vandalizing and “conspiring to violate the civil rights of” a synagogue outside Indianapolis.
“Our nation was founded on the right of all people to practice their faith free of threats and violence,” Minkler said in the Department of Justice press release. “Sadly, over the past couple of years, our country has seen an increase in hate crimes targeting houses of worship, particularly against those of the Jewish faith. This case was one of them. The sentence handed down yesterday sends a clear message that society cannot, and will not, tolerate those who terrorize others for their religious beliefs.”
Tragically, acts of anti-Semitism have been on the rise in America, of late. In just the past year, there have been lethal neo-Nazi attacks at both the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and the Chabad of Poway, California. The sentencing to three years’ imprisonment of one misanthropic, evil Jew-hating troglodyte might otherwise have therefore generated few headlines.
Alas, the utterly disgraceful post-sentencing media coverage from two particular outlets — BuzzFeed News and The Washington Post — has ensured that there will, in fact, be much national discussion of the sentencing. And there will be much national discussion because these two grossly biased outlets have somehow deemed it appropriate to report on the sentencing of a neo-Nazi synagogue vandal by fixating upon Daily Wire Editor-in Chief Ben Shapiro. Yes, that would be the same Ben Shapiro who is likely the most publicly recognizable Orthodox Jew in the world, was the number one journalistic target (by far) of anti-Semitism during the 2016 presidential election cycle, and was the recent recipient himself of “serious death threats” from a rabid Jew-hater.
On Sunday, BuzzFeed wrote a tendentious and scurrilous piece on how various “far-right” commentators radicalized the Indiana Jew-hater. Initially, before pulling down its tweet and amending its article, BuzzFeed reported that the neo-Nazi scumbag’s road to radicalization, as he allegedly admitted it to federal agents himself, included his reading Shapiro. Because nothing apparently says “neo-Nazi inspirer” like a kippah-clad, hardcore Zionist Orthodox Jew who likely spends more time criticizing the “alt-right” than any notable conservative figure in America.
BuzzFeed, facing a torrent of backlash for its blatant, fact-devoid smear, tweeted out a “correction” that instead claimed that the Jew-hating vandal claimed his road to radicalization included his wife reading Shapiro.
But it turns out that this “correction” was just as much a grotesque fabrication as was the original smear. As Daily Wire Senior Editor Emily Zanotti observed, “After looking at the FBI interview doc, it appears the only place [Shapiro’s] name appears is in a sentencing document, submitted by the defense, arguing (weirdly) that this guy was radicalized by others and did the crime to please his wife.”
In other words, Shapiro’s name was only mentioned in a defense attorney-produced sentencing memo. “[The wife] moved on to writings by Ben Shapiro and articles on Breitbart News which bridged the gap to the notorious white supremacist and anti-Semitic propaganda site Stormfront,” the memo claimed.
But why on earth would a news outlet report a criminal defense attorney’s memo — a document definitionally designed to elicit sympathy for a criminal defense client, to deflect away and mitigate moral culpability, and to lower a sentence as much as possible — as if it were inerrant Gospel truth? A criminal defense attorney has one goal and one goal only: To get the lowest possible sentence for his client. While it cannot be said for sure whether the vandal’s wife ever did consume Shapiro’s content, it can be said for sure that the defense attorney’s incentives, in submitting such a memo during the course of attempting to secure the lowest possible sentencing for his bigoted scofflaw of a client, are not necessarily perfectly aligned with the complete, neutral, unbiased truth. And it can also be said, more generally, that the notion that Torah-observant Jewish lion and adamant Zionist Ben Shapiro could ever be implied as responsible for the vandalization of a synagogue is patently absurd beyond any possibly describable measure.
Even Mike Cernovich, not exactly the closest Shapiro ally, could not contain his outrage in condemning what he called BuzzFeed’s “total smear job.” As Cernovich outlined in a must-read tweet thread, the vandal never mentioned Shapiro’s name in interviews with federal agents. Cernovich therefore confirmed Zanotti’s interpretation — that BuzzFeed’s “corrected” tweet was still libelous insofar as the vandal did not “t[ell] prosecutors his road to radicalization” included anything whatsoever to do with Shapiro. This therefore appears to be a transparent, outright lie by BuzzFeed. Furthermore, per Cernovich, a search of the vandal’s computer appears to turn up no content whatsoever having to do with Shapiro — rather, there is merely a myriad of evil content pertaining to Hitler and Nazism.
Not to be outdone, The Washington Post joined the fray last night. The Post, to its small credit, properly described the sole appearance of Shapiro’s name as being in the defense attorney’s sentencing memo. Again, to once again emphasize the point: A criminal defense attorney’s sentencing memo is a document with the sole purpose, above all else, of eliciting sympathy for the attorney’s client in any conceivable way so as to maximize the chances of lowering the client’s sentence. A criminal defense attorney’s sentencing memo should be interpreted very, very carefully — and exclusively through the lens of the attorney-client relationship, in which the attorney operates with one client-centric goal in mind.
But the Post, in addition to outrageously making an implied connection between Shapiro’s rhetoric and the actions of a 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting, does make one remarkably boneheaded and openly inaccurate assertion. The Post claims: “Shapiro has previously claimed that the majority of Muslims are radicalized, a false assertion citing math that was later debunked by PunditFact, a fact-checking publication run by Poynter.”
There is a lot to unpack in that one sentence.
In 2014, Shapiro responded to a Bill Maher/Ben Affleck exchange about Islam by producing a short video entitled, “The Myth of the Tiny Radical Muslim Minority.”
The video is extraordinarily straightforward. Shapiro simply moves on from one country to the next and recites public polling data that provides a lens into the publicly polled and professed beliefs of Muslim communities in each of the countries profiled therein. Literally all the video does is recite public polling data from a number of countries around the world that have notable Muslim populations.
Citing PunditFact, the Post claims that Shapiro’s video was “false” and that it was “debunked.” But the PunditFact piece does no such thing at all. Instead, by its own admission, PunditFact concedes that “Shapiro chose one yardstick,” but “[o]ther analysts could with at least as much justification choose another.” Put another way, Shapiro accurately recited publicly professed polling statistics in the video, but PunditFact simply questions whether, for example, desiring to live in a sharia-governed legal regime is properly indicative of a Muslim’s radicalism or extremism.
If anything, it is PunditFact’s bold assertion that adherence to sharia supremacy is normal and non-radical that, ironically, belittles non-Islamist moderate Muslims all throughout the world.
So not only did PunditFact fail to “debunk” Shapiro, by its own admission, but it also inadvertently infantilized and demeaned non-sharia supremacist, non-Islamist Muslims. More generally, PunditFact/PolitiFact has, over and over again, been outed as a wildly biased leftist cudgel, as The Federalist revealed in 2016. It is disingenuous in the extreme for the Post to now rely on PunditFact as a purported neutral arbiter.
So bravo to both BuzzFeed News and The Washington Post. You have both truly covered yourselves here in glory.