Ben Shapiro

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  • How Right-Wing Media Attacks Against Celebrities Who Speak Out About The Gender Pay Gap

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    On Equal Pay Day, Media Matters looks back at how conservative media attacked female celebrities and athletes for speaking out about wage disparities in their industry and the need for a guarantee of equal pay for equal work. Right-wing media blamed wage inequality on women’s “self-esteem,” their willingness to sign and negotiate “bad” contracts, and so-called “fuzzy math” on the part of equal pay advocates; all while continuing to push the myth that the gender gap doesn’t exist.

  • Obama Photographed With Che Guevara In Background, Right-Wing Media Freak Out

    Flashback: Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, And Richard Nixon Have All Been Photographed In Front Of Communist Leaders

    ››› ››› CRISTIANO LIMA

    Right-wing media rushed to attack President Obama over a photograph from his trip to Cuba in which he appears in Havana's Plaza de la Revolución, with a mural of Che Guevara visible in the background -- apparently forgetting that Republican Presidents Nixon, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush have all been photographed in front of images of communist leaders while on trips abroad.

  • Trump, Breitbart, And The Right-Wing Media's Hunger Games Showdown

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Two data points from early in the week: President Obama currently enjoys some of the highest approval ratings of his second term, while the conservative media shit show surrounding Donald Trump descends into a Hunger Games-like round of final elimination.

    And yes, there's something deeply poetic about that contrast.

    It's ironic because when Obama was first elected, the conservative media, including key outposts such as Breitbart, hoped they were going to check his every move. They were going to break his presidency. Instead, the only thing broken these days is the spirit of most of the conservative press as Trump stands poised to run away with the Republican nomination and conservative commentators form a circular firing squad lamenting the party's future, as well as Trump's potential November loss.

    The recent breakdown at Breitbart News is just the latest dumpster fire drawing attention. The site continues to implode in public view after feverishly pro-Trump editors failed to adequately defend reporter Michelle Fields when she was reportedly grabbed by Trump's campaign manager while trying to pose a question to the candidate.

    It represents the latest skirmish in the unfolding civil war. In January, National Review declared war on Trump. Later that month he once again opened fire on Fox News. And now Breitbart staffers are jumping ship because the site's so clearly inside Trump's pocket. ("Trump lackeys," according to National Review.)

    Trump's the wrecking ball candidate. But so far, it looks like the only damage he's doing is to the GOP and the conservative press.

    Lots of conservative media jaws remain dropped on the floor as their loyal readers, listeners, and viewers embrace Trump as their triumphant hero. Lots of conservative voices are belatedly chasing after the bandwagon urging voters to jump off. But it's too late. The right-wing media built this Frankenstein monster and now it's marauding around the countryside with a massive, GOP pitchfork crowd following in its wake, eager and willing to ransack whatever stands in its way.

    Is brainwashed too harsh of a term for what has happened to hardcore conservative voters in recent years, thanks in part to the far-right press?

    There's little doubt that Trump, a bullying bigoted nativist, has emerged as the mirror image of the Obama-hating far-right press. He's clearly won over the demagoguery wing of the Republican Party, which for years obsessed over every Fox News Benghazi report, cheered every Rush Limbaugh I.R.S. condemnation, and watched Trump's birther campaign with great fascination.

    What's inescapable today about the mounting Trump carnage is that it's all self-inflicted. Trump's flourishing on the fertile playing field of bigotry and resentment that the conservative media helped cultivate for years. Anti-intellectualism became a hallmark of the conservative press under Obama. Today, that's what is powering Trump's run.

    Look no further than Breitbart. This is from an item I wrote in 2010, cataloging the site's already-rich history of getting everything wrong:  

    This, from the site that can't read WH visitor's logs, doesn't understand pop culture, can't read polling data, doesn't know what a hate crime is, is clueless about the law, openly mocks Christmas, has trouble reading English, and launched one of the most incompetent smear campaigns in internet history. 

    And yet appearing on Fox News recently, Breitbart's former publicist Kurt Bardella, who resigned in protest last week, attributed Trump's rise to the fact that "facts no longer have their place in the political conversation and discourse in this country." Trust me, conservative sites like Breitbart have been dismantling "facts" for many, many years.

    "All movements are vulnerable to populist excesses and the self-destructive impulses of their core supporters," wrote Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic, as he castigated the conservative press for Trump's rise. "Good leaders can help to mitigate those pathologies. Bad leaders magnify them."

    Leaders of the Republican Party chose to magnify them, as they deputized the right-wing media in their pursuit of Obama. The move represented a complete abdication of leadership. But after the Obama landslide in 2008, the strategy was easy, it was cheap and it produced short-term excitement, bordering on hysteria, within a conservative movement.

    So off came all the mechanical governors and the right-wing media engine was revved for seven years. Obviously, we're now watching the colossal -- and predictable -- malfunction.

    The dirty little media secret about "conservative journalism" is that today, very little of it constitutes journalism. Not even close. (It more often resembles opposition research designed to trip up Democrats and little else.) And on the extreme boundaries, you have supposed news outlets like Breitbart acting like a "de facto super PAC" for the Trump campaign.

    There simply is no mirror relationship on the left. The Nation, for instance, doesn't relentlessly publish fabrications in the name of trying to damage the GOP. Mother Jones doesn't launch ridiculous smear campaigns against Republicans in hopes of boosting the chances of the Democratic Party. There is no liberal version of Breitbart, or The Drudge Report, or Fox News.

    That's because those conservative entities don't operate -- they're not weighed down -- by guidelines of fair play. Instead, it's anything goes. And when the target was Obama (i.e. he's a traitor who sides with terrorists), the cheers were deafening on the far end of the political spectrum.

    For many, those cheers have been replaced by groans while Trump stands poised to pad his primary lead. As the staff defections pile up, it's not known if Breitbart can survive the unfolding civil war.

    The same goes for the Republican Party.

  • Breitbart Unravels As Trump Questions Mount

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The single, violent campaign trail arm grab occurred when Donald Trump's campaign manager reportedly yanked a Breitbart News reporter. The flash of aggression lasted only a moment, but nearly one week later the widespread repercussions are still being felt as Breitbart unravels amidst resignations and internal sniping in the press.

    Reporter Michelle Fields and Trump aide Corey Lewandowski remain the unlikely protagonists at the center of the conservative drama. But the entire Breitbart team seems to be reeling. The right-wing media site's under attack for not supporting Fields while simultaneously running a pro-Trump clearing house under the guise of campaign news. (The site's been dubbed "Trumpbart" by some critics.)

    In the wake of the controversy, it looks like someone took a wrecking ball to Breitbart's masthead:

    *Fields filed a police report against Lewandowski and has remained under verbal attack from the Trump campaign. (Lewandowksi called her "delusional" on Twitter.) Sunday night, Fields resigned from Breitbart.

    *Longtime Breitbart writer and editor Ben Shapiro also quit in protest Sunday night, saying in a statement that Breitbart had been transformed into "Trump's personal Pravda."

    * In perhaps the strangest episode yet in the saga, Breitbart responded to Shapiro's resignation by thoroughly mocking him on the site in a post that was subsequently deleted. Breitbart editor-at-large Joel Pollak later issued a statement saying the since-deleted post was "written by me as part of an effort to make light of a significant company event, and was published as a result of a misunderstanding without going through the normal editorial channels." Politico noted that the bizarre and supposedly satirical piece "was posted under the pseudonym" that Shapiro's "father used while writing for the site -- William Bigelow." Shapiro's father also reportedly resigned from the site on Sunday, and the younger Shapiro told Politico, "Breitbart put this under his byline because they knew I'd have to out him. ... The fact they would use my father's pseudonym in order to attack me just exposes how despicable they are."

    *Breitbart publicist Kurt Bardella quit last week over how the site handled the Fields situation and publicly accused the site's editors of lying about what happened to the reporter. "As the evidence became more clear, there seemed to be resistance from Breitbart in supporting Michelle," Bardella told CNN. "And it's just something I just couldn't understand."

    *Last week, Field's former colleague Patrick Howley sent out a series of now-deleted tweets about the Trump assault and suggested Fields was a liar, echoing the Trump campaign allegations about her. Howley was suspended for a few days.

    Forced to choose between protecting its own employee vs. continuing with its at-times sycophantic Trump coverage (which includes publishing relentlessly attacks on Trump's GOP opponents), Breitbart opted for Trump fandom.

    The move probably shouldn't have been surprising. Anyone who has followed the ethically challenged site over the years knows about Breitbart's factual and moral shortcomings.

    Even after Fields was targeted by the Trump campaign, there was still very little daylight between Breitbart's content and Trump's message machine.

    These were some of the site's top headlines on Sunday:

    Trump Against the World: The Donald Regains Control in Home Stretch

    Jeff Sessions to GOP: Time to Unite Behind Trump, Beat Hillary

    Establishment Playbook to Defeat Donald Trump Echoes Smears Against Barry Goldwater

    What That Trump Security Moment Does To A Campaign, And How the 'Hitlerizing' Media Have Painted A Target Over Trump

    FactCheck: Organized Radical Left Targeted Donald Trump From Day One

    Note that as the assault allegation unfolded in the press, "Breitbart chairman Stephen Bannon made several disparaging remarks about the reporter in conference calls with company leadership," according to Politico's reporting. And internally, Joel Pollack instructed staffers to stop publicly defending Fields.

    And this from BuzzFeed [emphasis added]:

    Despite the fact that there is video, an audio recording, and an eyewitness account that indicate Lewandowski did this, the Trump campaign has denied it, and Breitbart published a story by Pollak arguing that the person who manhandled Fields was not Lewandowski, appearing to side with the Trump campaign over their own reporter.

    Think about that for a moment: A reporter accused Trump's campaign manager of assaulting her and then her colleague published a piece suggesting her account didn't add up.

    "It makes no sense," noted Gawker, "until you consider that perhaps the media outlet's relationship with the Trump campaign is worth more to it than the safety and health--mental and physical--of its own employees."

    Suspicions of a pay-for-play foundation continue to hound Breitbart. "According to four sources with knowledge of the situation," BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins reported last year, "editors and writers at the outlet have privately complained since at least last year that the company's top management was allowing [Donald] Trump to turn Breitbart into his own fan website -- using it to hype his political prospects and attack his enemies."

    There's been nothing subtle about Breitbart's Republican primary coverage. Back in January, the conservative Daily Caller noted "Breitbart News published at least 30 stories in the past week about Donald Trump's theory that Sen. Ted Cruz is ineligible to run for president because he's not a natural born citizen." 

    Breitbart executives deny the pay-for-play allegations. If that's the case, Breitbart decided to hang its reporter out to dry after being assaulted by Trump's campaign manager because ... why exactly?

    There's nothing wrong with advocacy during a campaign season. But for a so-called news site to dedicate its time and resources to propping up only one Republican candidate? For a news site to turn its back on one of its reporters after she said she was manhandled by that candidate's campaign manager? Those are dubious new lows.

    And that's why the Breitbart/Trump story only comes into focus when you realize Breitbart operates as a political entity, not as a news or journalism outlet.

    At one point last week Breitbart's Washington, D.C. editor, Matthew Boyle, in an attempt to contain the story, released a text conversation he had had with Lewandowski. But all the texts did was raise additional doubts about Breitbart's loyalty: Boyle suggested the attack on Fields had been a "misunderstanding" and emphasized that he wanted to "make sure that this doesn't turn into a big story."

    "We are now at the point where any skepticism of Donald Trump is a bridge too far," explained Matt Lewis at the Daily Caller. "When Ben Shapiro isn't hard core enough for you, you're the one with the problem," 

    It's too early to tell if the assault story will damage the Trump campaign. But as the Trump non-believers are purged from the site, we know Breitbart's now officially unraveling.

  • Fox & Friends Hosts Celebrate Donald Trump As Other Right-Wing Media Panic

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Hosts of Fox News' Fox & Friends celebrated Republican candidate Donald Trump's Super Tuesday victories, asking whether the GOP establishment will "finally get behind" him, as he "now seems unstoppable." Meanwhile, other conservative media figures panicked over the possibility of a Trump nomination, saying it could end "the GOP in its current form."

  • Right-Wing Media Panic Over Donald Trump's Front-Runner Status On Super Tuesday

    Right-Wing Media: If Trump Gets Nomination, "The GOP In Its Current Form Ends"

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Right-wing media figures lamented Donald Trump's primary success, after he won the majority of Republican primary contests on Super Tuesday. Their attacks against the front-runner follows a New York Times report on the formation of the "Our Principles" political action committee, a right wing PAC devoted to a "full-fledged campaign against Donald J. Trump."

  • Right-Wing Media Lash Out At Pope Francis For Suggesting Donald Trump's Immigration Plans Do Not Reflect Christian Values

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Right-wing media criticized Pope Francis for suggesting Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's proposals for mass deportation and his promise to build a border wall are not in line with Christian values. Right-wing media personalities demanded the Pope "ask [for] Donald Trump's forgiveness," called him a socialist, and claimed he is a hypocrite due to the Vatican having a wall.

  • The Final Year Of Obama Derangement Syndrome Is Gonna Be A Doozy

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It didn't take long for conservative commentators to start hurling childish insults at their television sets last night during President Obama's State of the Union address. As he mapped out his vision for America, he was called a "crapweasel president," a "shameless snake" and a "bad man" giving a "stupid shit" speech.

    Viewers disagreed, of course, and gave Obama's address sky-high marks last night.

    If you follow these regular vile eruptions you can't be surprised. Over the years during Obama's annual, thoughtful national address, his feral critics have excitedly denounced him in real time as an "arrogant," "flippant" "jerk." He was "fake," "thin-skinned," "cocky and snide"; "patronizing," "demagogic," "unpresidential," and really, really "arrogant." And he often gave a "stupid," "Castro-like," "evil speech."

    By all indications Obama's final year in office is going to feature a never-ending geyser from the far-right press, where every move and utterance from the president is met with overwrought name-calling and desperate cries of help. His critics have bronzed and memorialized the art of indignation. (And also berated the president's wife, endlessly.)

    It must be exhausting.

    It's only the second week of January and already, aside from the State of the Union outburst, we witnessed the weird and childish media attacks on the president after he teared up in public while remembering child victims of gun violence. ("Check that podium for like a raw onion ... It's not really believable.") 

    Just four weeks ago two Fox News talkers were suspended, one for calling the president of the United States a "pussy" on national television, the other for claiming, on the same day, that Obama just didn't "give a shit" about combating terrorism.

    It's classic Obama Derangement Syndrome: the inability of adults to rationally deal with the actions of the Democratic president. Remember the collective 2014 meltdown when Obama appeared on comedian Zach Galifianakis' comedy show? (It was "dreadful" and "gross.") When he ordered "spicy mustard" on his hamburger? ("What kind of man orders a cheeseburger without ketchup but Dijon mustard?") Or when feverish critics blamed Obama for golfing when an earthquake hit the East Coast of America?

    And note we're not talking about anonymous online commenters, or a group chat of College Republicans. We're talking about people who are supposed to be leading lights within the conservative movement. But it turns out they're immune to intellectual pursuits when it comes to Obama.

    The amazing part is very little of this batty behavior seems to disqualify the participants in the eyes of the elite Beltway media. There seems to be few baseless allegations or insults that critics can hurl at Obama (or Hillary Clinton) these days that's deemed out of bounds, which of course only fuels the spoiled-rotten behavior.

    So on and on the insults come, under the guise of "debate."

    Obama haters are told that not only does he not love America and he tilts toward terrorist sympathies, but the dead-enders' bottom line has always been that Obama's a failure and America has suffered incalculable losses under his leadership.

    His fevered critics made that same claim in 2012, only to watch Obama waltz to reelection.

    And that's the catch: Virtually every claim they made about Obama turned out to be wrong, whether it was how Obamacare was going to bankrupt the economy (not to mention kill off old people), how he was driving gas prices through the roof, he couldn't create American jobs, he was going to take away your guns, he was letting Iran obtain nuclear weapons and letting Ebola sweep our shores, how he gave the Benghazi stand down order, and unleashed the I.R.S. on his enemies.

    All of it turned out to be wrong. (Obama being a Muslim and a socialist, too.)

    Under Obama, the stock market's up more than 9,000 points, the unemployment rate has nearly been cut in half, and USA Today reports that drivers in many states may soon see gas stations advertising $1 per-gallon fill-ups.

    So where's the seething anger from?

    Is the barely-controllable rage confirmation that the American electorate is changing, and not for the better from the Republican perspective? Is it quiet corroboration that, even according to some Republican operatives, a Donald Trump nomination this year could mean ruin for the GOP come November?

    Meanwhile, does Obama's presidency rank among the most successful? I'll leave that debate to the academics. But it's obvious that Obama's successful two-term run has never matched the almost comical portrait painted by his adolescent, name-calling critics. (For context, Obama's current approval rating is not far off from Ronald Reagan's at this same point of his second term, according to Gallup.) 

    What's amazing to watch is that their parallel-universe view of Obama has only intensified over the years. You'd think the white-hot anger might subside over time, especially when it became clear Obama governed as a traditional, center-left Democrat, not as some sort of Marxist radical.

    As New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote this week:

    The Obama administration has done things people like me strongly disagree with. But America is in better economic shape than any other major nation on earth. Crime is down. Abortion rates are down. Fourteen million new jobs have been created in five years. Obama has championed a liberal agenda, but he hasn't made the country unrecognizable.

    But Brooks' (sometimes) pragmatic brand of conservatism is no longer in favor among professionals in the fever swamp where logical observations about Obama (i.e. what's the big deal?) are rarely acknowledged.

    Indeed, their unruly rage has only intensified, to the point where it seems like the permanent state of phony outrage is the entire point of the play production.