Wednesday night, Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro appeared on CNN for a one-on-one with host Don Lemon to discuss the current furor revolving around white supremacists, the removal of Confederate statues, and whether the media was being played by President Trump. During the discussion, Shapiro returned to a point he has made scores of times over the years; that the media pretends objectivity but has a definite agenda that they instill into their coverage. He pinned Lemon down, forcing Lemon to admit the media purveys a “fake objectivity.”
Shapiro also gave the media some free advice if they want to have any credibility with the public: “Turn down the emotion down to one; turn the fact-checking up to ten.”
After the one-one-one with Lemon, Shapiro joined a panel to discuss the issues further. Both videos are below.
The one-on-one exchange started like this:
Lemon: Ben, I invited you back on the show to have a broader conversation about this, and here we are. Thanks for joining us. This whole idea, freedom of speech and this conversation is very important to me and I’m glad to have you on to talk about it. What started out as a neo-Nazi murder in Charlottesville and the president’s failure to denounce Nazi and white supremacists exploded into a discussion in this country about the removal of Confederate statues. Have we gotten away from the point of what happened in Charlottesville, what it was really about?
Shapiro: It seems to me we clearly have, and I think that was the point of the alt-right and white supremacists seizing on an issue that they know there is actually broad public consensus on not moving a lot of these statues. There was a Quinnipiac poll that came out today showing that 50 to 39, Americans aren’t big on the idea of moving all these statues out. They seized on an issue that they think is a winning issue for them, and then tried to broaden out their appeal that way.
I think a lot of folks on the Left fell for it; they want to have this discussion anyway, and so they saw the opportunity to have this discussion, but it seems like a misdirection from what actually happened in Charlottesville. The issue in Charlottesville is white supremacy, not whether some people think that statues should come down or stay up, because clearly 50% of the American population doesn’t want to keep these statues up just because they’re a bunch of white supremacist racists.
Lemon referenced an article from S.E Cupp, who wrote, “To distract from his indefensible moral equivalencies between neo-Nazis in Charlottesville and the activists who were there to protest them, Trump dared liberals to go down this kooky rabbit hole of political correctness. It’s fertile ground and he knew they’d take the bait.” Lemon continued, “Is S.E. right? Did liberals get played by President Trump?”
I think pretty clearly: they definitely fell for what was, whether he planned it or not, a trap for the Left. He said you guys don’t have a limiting principle, you’re going to go after statues of George Washington, or Christopher Columbus, or Thomas Jefferson, and now you’re seeing that actually happen on the Left. The most obvious stupid case is this banning of this reporter from ESPN named Robert Lee, an Asian guy, from covering an event at University of Virginia. The political correctness of the Left is actually driving people into Trump’s arms even though Trump’s initial response to Charlottesville and then his Tuesday response to Charlottesville was entirely wrong; one thing, he’s just benefited from the fact that the Left is constantly reacting to everything he says with an enormous level of passion, and I think that that’s actually a negative, even what he did last night insofar as going after the media, because the media reacted. Instead of doing objective analysis of where he was not telling the truth, they jumped to extraordinary critiques of his mental health, and talking about how he was crazy, and how he was morally bereft and all this stuff. All that does is that it plays to his crowd; his crowd thinks that the media is out to get him; his crowd thinks that the media have a particular emotional animus for him personally, and so anything that the media do is going to exacerbate that.
Lemon hearkened back to the ESPN incident, saying ESPN claimed they didn’t ban Lee, prompting Shapiro to interject, “They moved him off of it.”
Lemon then returned to Trump’s speech Tuesday night, playing the video in which Trump denounced those who are “trying to take away our culture,” lambasting local government leaders who have acquiesced to a demand to remove controversial statues, calling them “Weak, weak, people.”
Lemon said, “So he says that the media is trying to do that. The media is simply responding to people who are there protesting and to the story of the statues being taken down. The media hasn’t called for the statues to be taken down.”
Shapiro’s face clearly showed his disdain for that claim, as Lemon continued, “So I don’t understand when he says the media is trying to take away your culture.”
I do think that one of the conservative critiques of the media, and this has been true for as long as I’ve been alive, and probably before that, is that the media have an agenda, a political agenda, and they hide behind this patina of objectivity in order to press forward this political agenda. Don, you were very passionate about President Trump’s statements about the media last night, and I think some of that was justified, but I think a lot of it actually goes to what his base thinks, which is that they think you have an animus particularly for President Trump, that you have an animus for his agenda on things like Confederate statues, I think that you personally probably want to see these Confederate statues come down. Is that true? I would assume you do.
Lemon stated, “Listen, I lived in the South a long time. And to tell you the truth, I knew the statues were there; I was offended by the statues. Whether they should come down, I would leave it up to the individuals, but I do think that they are insulting to people, just as you, would you want to see a statue of Hitler, as a Jew?”
Then came the crux of Shapiro’s argument; he answered, “Right. I totally understand your point of view. The point is that you have a point of view, right?”
Lemon, “Listen, we shouldn’t pretend that there’s this fake objectivity; everyone has a point of view. That doesn’t mean that you’re biased.”
Having won his point, Shapiro smiled, “Well –”
Lemon continued, “But to just get people to understand, as a Jewish person you wouldn’t want to go to a Hitler high school.”
Shapiro: “Of course.”
Lemon: “Well, that same effect, African-Americans, that has the same effect, Robert E. Lee has the same effect on African-Americans and also the Confederate flag, and so I think we have to be understanding of each other. It’s not that I don’t like the president, or have an agenda against the president, I’m simply speaking the truth as I see it.”
I totally understand that, but what he’s saying, and what his people are hearing, he’s saying essentially that you do have an agenda in terms of promulgating what you think about Confederate statues. You have a clear point of view on that. That’s a perfectly acceptable, and I think, understandable point of view, but the implication is that you are an objective reporter who’s actually propagating a point of view, whatever that point of view may be. You just said, openly, that you don’t think your point of view is biased. Your point of view clearly is biased.
Lemon protested: “What I was talking about last night coming out of his statues has nothing to do with statues; I was talking about his behavior on stage; it had nothing to do with that, yeah.”
Shapiro: “Again, totally understood, but the way that it read is that you have a personal animus toward the president, and that’s the way he wants to play it. So whether that’s true or not, that’s the way that a lot of his followers are going to take it.”
I only have a personal animus toward ignorance when people who don’t know their history, whether it’s the President of the United States, a guest on this show, or someone I speak to on the street. I think you need to be able to defend yourself, and in order to defend yourself, in order to have a right clear perspective, you need to know history and you need to be educated about it, and in many ways I think people who are fighting for these issues are not, and that means that people who want to take the statues down and some of them who do not want to take the statues down as well.
Later, joining a panel with Lemon, Shapiro pointed out, “What you saw in his rally last night was President Trump is great at two things: the art of opposition and trolling, and that’s basically what that rally was last night.”
Lemon: “I agree.”
He’s really good at finding something that all Republicans dislike, which is the media, right? We don’t like CNN; we don’t like MSNBC; this is just true of conservatives, and so he takes that and then he says, okay, unify around this. You can’t unify around my policy; you may find me kind of weird; you may not like McConnell, you may not like Ryan, but we all dislike the media, so we can do that together. And then, he says some things that are funny. I thought the “elites” comment was funny, and then he says things that are outrageous, like people in the media aren’t patriotic, knowing that the people in the media are immediately going to turn it up to 12 on the Richter scale.
Lemon argued, “But Ben, don’t you think he should be truthful in his comments, even if he’s funny, and if you give him that, shouldn’t he be truthful? He wasn’t.”
Shapiro then got down to brass tacks:
Yes, of course. Of course. Here’s my advice to people in the media. My advice is, turn down the emotion down to one; turn the fact-checking up to ten. Because I think what has happened here is that the amount of fact-checking that’s gone on has taken second place to the offense that people in the media are taking to his words, and I think that the problem is that the American people have to know that what the media are trying to do is defend them from untruth, not to defend themselves from insults, and until the media start making that distinction, a lot of people on Trump’s side are going to think that this just Rock-em, Sock-em robots between Trump and the media. They might not like either one, but they find it kind of amusing,
Video of the Shapiro/Lemon one-on-one below:
Video of the panel, with the Shapiro/Lemon exchange starting at 5:56