Ben Shapiro stirs controversy by guest writing Politico newsletter
Conservative media figure Ben Shapiro drew controversy on Thursday after he guest wrote Politico’s Playbook newsletter.
The controversy came after Shapiro used the newsletter to defend the House Republicans who opposed impeaching President Trump over his role in inciting last week’s deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The House voted 232 to 197 to impeach Trump for a second time on Wednesday, with 10 Republicans siding with Democrats.
Shapiro wrote that that GOP opposition to impeachment comes from a “deep and abiding conservative belief that members of the opposing political tribe want their destruction, not simply to punish Trump for his behavior.”
Shapiro also argued that conservatives see “the game,” which he describes as blaming all conservatives for the actions of the president and the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“It doesn’t matter whether you held your nose when voting for Trump; it doesn’t matter if you denounced his prevarications about a ‘stolen election,’” Shapiro wrote. “If you supported Trump in any way, you were at least partially culpable, the argument goes. It’s not just Trump who deserves vitriol — it’s all 74 million people who voted for him.”
Shapiro’s appearance drew backlash on Twitter for a variety of reasons. Jonathan Chait, a writer for New York Magazine, wrote in a tweet: I’m glad Politico let Ben Shapiro write Playbook today. He revealed a belief by the GOP I hadn’t heard of before. Of course, that belief is insane. I analyzed it.”
I’m glad Politico let Ben Shapiro write Playbook today. He revealed a belief by the GOP I hadn’t heard of before.
Of course, that belief is insane. I analyzed it: https://t.co/9hndX0p4Im
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) January 14, 2021
Elie Mystal, Justice correspondent for The Nation, criticized Politico for defending having Shapiro edit Playbook by using the “both sides” argument.
“The fact that they think Chris Hayes is the “both sides” of Ben freaking Shapiro is, again, how white supremacists win,” he wrote. “I look forward to the day @politico lets Louis Farrakhan and Mitt Romney edit dueling playbooks.”
MOREOVER, the fact that they think Chris Hayes is the “both sides” of Ben freaking Shapiro is, again, how white supremacists win.
I look forward to the day @politico lets Louis Farrakhan and Mitt Romney edit dueling playbooks.
— Elie Mystal (@ElieNYC) January 14, 2021
Jennifer Rubin, opinion writer for The Washington Post, said it was irresponsible for Politico to “give its pages to someone who fueled the very lies that led to a violent overthrow.”
Mindboggling irresp for Politico to give its pages to someone who fueled the very lies that led to a violent overthrow. They put him back to repeat the same. Where is Politico’s decency, concern for our democracy and adherence to truth? Oh. It’s just about clicks. cc: @samstein
— Jennifer ‘Prosecute Incitement and Sedition’ Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) January 14, 2021
In response to the backlash, Shapiro said on Twitter: “People losing their s*** over me writing @politico Playbook this morning are pretty much proving my point. So keep at it guys, you’re doing great!”
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) January 14, 2021
After the backlash, Politico editor-in-chief Matt Kaminski held a staff-wide call to address the controversy, in which he defended the decision, according to The Daily Beast.
“We published a piece by a very prominent writer, provocateur, and podcaster. We stand by every word in there, it was very closely edited,” Kaminski reportedly said.
He also added “Mischief making has always been a part of Politico’s secret sauce. We were an upstart. Some of that sensibility is always going to be a part of this publication.”
Politico didn’t immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.