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Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro appeared on the BBC to discuss his new book, New York Times best-seller “The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great,” but he didn’t get in many words about his actual book.
Instead, the interview got out of hand, and Shapiro ended up walking off after 16 minutes of tense back-and-forth with host Andrew Neil.
During the interview, Neil — former editor of the Sunday Times — pressed Shapiro about old, controversial remarks that the commentator had previously made.
The interview was conducted from London via satellite.
After greeting one another and exchanging pleasantries, Neil asked Shapiro whether he believed the recent passage of Georgia’s new abortion law was dragging the U.S. back to the “dark ages.”
“OK, a couple of things,” Shapiro said. “Are you [an] objective journalist or an opinion journalist?”
Neil responded, “I’m a journalist who asks questions.”
Shapiro, fired up at this point, responded, “You purport to be an objective journalist, BBC purports to be an objective, down the middle network. It is obviously 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. Why don’t you just say you’re on the left?”
Neil, who is known as a conservative commentator in British circles, responded, “Mr. Shapiro, if you only knew how ridiculous that statement is, you wouldn’t have said it.”
Neil went on to push Shapiro for comment on remarks he’d made about transgender rights and abortion.
Clearly irritated, Shapiro said that Neil was simply trying to dredge up “lone things that sound bad out of context” in order to make “a quick buck on BBC off the fact that I’m popular,” and “no one has ever heard of [Neil].”
“This whole thing is a waste of time,” Shapiro added. “Frankly, I don’t care — I don’t frankly give a damn what you think of me, since I’ve never heard of you. I think we’re done here.”
The two proceeded to sign off.
The clip ended up going viral on the internet on Thursday, with many people defending Neil and calling him one of the last objective interviewers and journalists in the United Kingdom.
Shapiro went on to issue an apology for not knowing this information beforehand.
In a tweet, he wrote, “Just pre-taped an interview with BBC’s @afneil. As I’m not familiar with him or his work, I misinterpreted his antagonism as political Leftism (he termed the pro-life position in America ‘barbaric’) – and that was apparently inaccurate. For that, I apologize.”
A day later, he later added that Neil destroyed him during the debate in a second tweet.
Shapiro wrote, “@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.”
Just pre-taped an interview with BBC’s @afneil. As I’m not familiar with him or his work, I misinterpreted his antagonism as political Leftism (he termed the pro-life position in America “barbaric”) – and that was apparently inaccurate. For that, I apologize.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) May 9, 2019
.@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. https://t.co/UAtAUtIWtO
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) May 10, 2019