The Guardian - May11, 2019
The US conservative pundit Ben Shapiro has said he was “destroyed” by Andrew Neil in a TV debate in which he accused the veteran broadcaster of being a “lefty” before abruptly ending the interview.
Neil, chair of the group that owns the rightwing magazine the Spectator, subjected Shapiro to a robust interrogation about previous remarks such as “Israelis like to build, Arabs like to bomb crap”, and highlighted his support for new hardline abortion laws in the state of Georgia.
At this point in the BBC Politics Live broadcast, Shapiro, formerly of Breitbart, accused Neil of bias and suggested abortions after more than six weeks of pregnancy were brutal.
“You purport to be an objective journalist,” Shapiro said. “The BBC purports to be an objective, down-the-middle network. It obviously is not, it never has been, and you as a journalist are proceeding to call one side of the political aisle ignorant, barbaric and sending us back to the dark ages.”
The segment went viral on social media, prompting Shapiro to say he had not been prepared and to concede defeat to Neil, who often takes oppositional positions with his guests.
He tweeted: “@afneil DESTROYS Ben Shapiro! So that’s what that feels like ;) Broke my own rule, and wasn’t properly prepared. I’ve addressed every single issue he raised before; see below. Still, it’s Neil 1, Shapiro 0.”
He earlier apologised on social media to Neil, saying he had “misinterpreted his antagonism as political leftism”.
Shapiro brought the 16-minute interview to an end as he cried foul over Neil questioning him on “lone things that sound bad out of context”.
“Frankly, I find this whole thing a waste of time,” he said. “You can think whatever you want of me, frankly, I don’t care. I don’t frankly give a damn what you think of me since I’ve never heard of you.”
Neil retorted: “And I’d never heard of you before I briefed myself for this.”
Then, as Neil pressed him to explain how society was turning its back on Judaeo-Christian values, as Shapiro’s bestselling book claims, Shapiro said he was not “inclined to continue an interview with a person as badly motivated as you”.
He removed his microphone and prepared to leave as Neil thanked him for demonstrating that anger was not part of American political discourse.