May 27, 2016

BUYING THE BUBBLE:

Explaining Ben Shapiro's Messy, Ethnic-Slur-Laden Breakup With Breitbart (Jesse Singal, 5/26/16, NY Mag)


Shortly after Shapiro resigned, Breitbart published -- and then quickly pulled down -- a bizarre article bylined with a pseudonym previously used by Shapiro's father on Breitbart and headlined "Ben Shapiro Betrays Loyal Breitbart Readers in Pursuit of Fox News Contributorship" (Shapiro's father, David Shapiro, stepped down as a contributor at the same time Shapiro did -- Ben told Politico that his father had written under a pseudonym to shield himself from the death threats Ben receives). Then, last week, Breitbart published a piece by an alt-right Twitter personality known as "Pizza Party Ben" -- yes, that was how his byline appeared on the site -- that consisted mostly of a video mocking Shapiro for having complained about anti-Semitism, the alt-right, and Trump:

The nadir came a couple of weeks ago, though, when Shapiro's wife gave birth to the couple's second child. As the Daily Wire noted, Shapiro was hit with a wave of vicious anti-Semitic abuse, including multiple Holocaust references and requests that Shapiro and his family be sent to the ovens. [...]

During the Republican primary, Shapiro supported Cruz -- no surprise given that both men are staunch conservatives. But his overriding focus this campaign season has been on Trump, whom he views as not only a fake Republican, but a legitimately dangerous figure. So on March 4, Shapiro "came out" as a #NeverTrump proponent on the Daily Wire:

I will never vote for Donald Trump because I stand with certain principles. I stand with small government and free markets and religious freedom and personal responsibility. Donald Trump stands against all of these things. He stands for Planned Parenthood and trade restrictions and targeting of political enemies and an anti-morality foreign policy and government domination of religion and nastiness toward women and tacit appeals to racism and unbounded personal power. I stand with the Constitution of theUnited States, and its embedded protection of my God-given rights through governmental checks and balances. Donald Trump does not. I stand with conservatism. Donald Trump stands against it.

I stand with #NeverTrump.

It was clear that this put him at odds with Breitbart, which by then had transformed itself, in the eyes of many, into something of a Trump propaganda outlet. [...]

It was the Michelle Fields incident that severed Shapiro's relationship with Breitbart, though. In March, Fields, then a reporter for the site, was grabbed hard by Donald Trump's chief of staff, Corey Lewandowski, after a press conference in Florida. Breitbart did not exactly come out swinging in defense of Fields, raising eyebrows among journalists both outside and within the organization -- the prevailing assumption was that Breitbart's higher-ups didn't want to jeopardize the site's cozy relationship with Trump, even in an instance where one of its reporters had been manhandled by a campaign operative. (Fields, who posted photos of her bruised arm, filed charges against Lewandowski, but they were later dropped by Palm Beach County.)

When Fields resigned in protest, Shapiro went with her (as did various other staffers) -- and on his way out the door he made a loud point about what he saw as Breitbart's dangerous trajectory. "Andrew's life mission has been betrayed," Shapiro wrote in his statement about his decision, referring to the site's founder, the controversial conservative-media figurehead Andrew Breitbart, who died in 2012 and was a mentor of Shapiro's. "Indeed, Breitbart News, under the chairmanship of Steve Bannon, has put a stake through the heart of Andrew's legacy. In my opinion, Steve Bannon is a bully, and has sold out Andrew's mission in order to back another bully, Donald Trump; he has shaped the company into Trump's personal Pravda, to the extent that he abandoned and undercut [Fields] in order to protect [Lewandowski]."

Posted by at May 27, 2016 6:45 PM

  

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