Ben Shapiro

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  • Conservative Media Fight Over David French Trial Balloon

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, who has long advocated for a third party alternative to the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, announced his desire to recruit National Review writer David French as his chosen candidate. French’s coworkers and some core Never Trump figures supported the possible candidacy, while many other right-wing media figures called it “embarrassing” and “preposterous.”

    The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol Pushes National Review's David French To Enter Presidential Race

    Wash. Post: "David French Is Urged To Enter Presidential Race As Independent." On May 31 The Washington Post reported that Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, sought to recruit National Review writer David French as a third-party conservative presidential candidate. French has not stated whether or not he will run:

    Tennessee attorney David French, who in recent years has become a prominent right-wing writer, is being urged by some conservative leaders to make a late entry into the 2016 presidential race as an independent candidate, according to two people close to him.

    William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard magazine and a former Republican White House official, is at the fore of the draft effort. A group of well-known evangelical leaders and GOP operatives is also involved in the discussions, the people said, requesting anonymity to discuss private conversations. 


    When reached by phone Tuesday, French’s wife, Nancy, declined to comment. David French did not respond to multiple calls and emails over the past weekend. [The Washington Post, 5/31/16]

    Some Never Trump And National Review Figures Support A French Candidacy

    National Review: "French Is Preposterous? This Year?" National Review blogger Mona Chen defended Bill Kristol's selection of French for a third party bid, calling for "an honest man in this contest." Chen asserted that since “the Democrats are about to nominate a woman who may be indicted” and the Republicans “a reality star who knows nothing of policy, but ... threatens to undermine" the GOP itself, French has a viable opportunity to enter the presidential race:

    Twitter tittered with a combination of contempt and amusement yesterday when word leaked that it might be our own David French who is considering an independent run for president. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” — that great “herd of independent minds” — the same tone prevailed (except for Mark Halperin, who noted that much would depend upon whether French could get financial backing). Mika Brzezinski scoffed that Bill Kristol needed a vacation, and the assembled crew were unanimous that French lacks the stature to enter the race. 

    In any normal year, they would certainly have a point. But look around people. This is the year when the Democrats are about to nominate a woman who may be indicted. The Republicans are nominating a reality star who knows nothing of policy but excels at schoolyard taunts, and threatens to undermine the one party that, until recently, stood (broadly) for the Constitution. But David French is out of his league? French is a graduate of Harvard Law. While Trump was bedding married women and allegedly defrauding strivers who signed up for Trump University, French was earning a bronze star in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He’s a major in the US Army Reserve. He’s a bestselling author of, most recently, The Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore and countless brilliant articles. He is past president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and has worked for the Alliance Defending Freedom and the American Center for Law and Justice. [National Review, 6/1/16]

    National Review Editor Jim Geraghty: “If A David French Candidacy Gets All Of America To See The Alt-Right Clearly, He’s Done A National Service.”

    [, 5/31/16]

    Talk Radio Host Charlie Sykes: “David French Is A Class Act, Would Be An Impressive Candidate.”

    [, 5/31/16]

    RedState's Leon H. Wolf: "French ... Will Easily Get My Vote." writer Leon H. Wolf wrote that French “will easily get my vote over any of the options that are currently on the ballot.” Even though Wolf conceded that French has little realistic chance to win, he asserted that he will never “bow before the con man who bragged that I would support him even after he destroyed my party.”

    I guess some are determined not to give French a shot on the basis that he can’t possibly win. Personally, I could not care less. A realistic chance of anyone who deserves the office winning left the building a long time ago.

    I don’t have a duty or obligation of any kind to vote for a candidate who might win. The only duty I have – to myself or anyone else – is to vote for the candidate who is most deserving of my vote. Hell, by the time election day of 2008 rolled around, McCain had no chance, and we all voted for him, didn’t we?

    If French really does run, he will easily get my vote over any of the options that are currently on the ballot, in addition to my help gathering signatures and whatever spare money I can afford. Not only will he deserve it, but I won’t submissively tuck my tail between my legs and bow before the con man who bragged that I would support him even after he destroyed my party. [, 6/1/16]

    Erick Erickson: “I’d Gladly Vote For David French Over Either Hillary Clinton Or Her Donor Donald Trump.”

    [, 5/31/16]

    Erickson: “I’d Be Happy To Participate In The #FrenchRevolution.”

    [, 5/31/16]

    Daily Caller's Matt Lewis: “I Will Vote For David French … But We Could Probably Hold Our Convention In A Phone Booth.”

    [, 5/31/16]

    Ben Shapiro: “Voting For David French Over Hillary And Trump Would Be The Easiest Call Ever.”

    [, 5/31/16]

    Others In Right-Wing Media Ridicule The "Embarrassing" Potential Candidacy Of French

    Hot Air: Bill Kristol Is "Now Pulling Fans Out Of The Stands To Play QB." Conservative blogger Allahpundit ridiculed Kristol's choice of French in a May 31 blog post on

    This was who he had in mind with that much-hyped tweet this weekend that had everyone wondering if Romney had reconsidered? An … NRO writer? Trump fans are forever deriding #NeverTrump as a “movement” consisting of, like, six guys at National Review and the Weekly Standard. And now here we are.


    As it turns out, Kristol actually touted French as a potential independent candidate in a piece published in the Standard just a few days ago. No one put two and two together this weekend, though, presumably because, um, no one thought he could possibly be serious.


    There’s a sense that, having exhausted everyone on the team’s depth chart, you’re now pulling fans out of the stands to play QB. I’m not sure either what the value is in picking a conservative challenger to Trump who’s even less well known than Gary Johnson is. [, 5/31/16]

    Breitbart News: “It’s Likely This Will End Up In The Ash Heap Of Kristol’s History Of Inaccurate Positions.” Breitbart News dismissed Kristol’s selection of French, writing in a May 31 post that “it’s likely this will end up in the ash heap of Kristol’s history of inaccurate predictions”:

    Kristol created a media firestorm after tweeting that an “impressive” third party candidate would run with a “real chance.” If David French is all Kristol can come up with, it’s likely this will end up in the ash heap of Kristol’s history of inaccurate predictions. [Breitbart News, 5/31/16]

    Guy Benson: French Candidacy “Will Represent An Embarrassing Fizzle For A ‘Never Trump’ Movement That Once Seemed Potent. Or At Least Relevant.” Townhall political editor Guy Benson called French’s selection by Kristol an “embarrassing fizzle” for the Never Trump movement in a May 31 post:

    And the grand reveal is...National Review writer David French? And it's not even confirmed? Don't get me wrong: French is a decorated Iraq war veteran, a strong writer, and a principled conservative whose stalwart commitment to religious liberty is admirable, even if one disagrees from time to time. … He's an impressive man. The impressiveness of his team -- if this presidential run ever actually comes to pass -- remains to be seen. But the notion that a relatively little-known writer could parachute into this race at such a late juncture and have a prayer of winning even a single state is, frankly, preposterous. 


    So with due respect to the potential candidate, and with strong sympathy for its most prominent backers, I must say that if the French report proves accurate, it will represent an embarrassing fizzle for a 'Never Trump' movement that once seemed potent. Or at least relevant. Instead, it will have roared in like a lion after Indiana, then trotted impotently and inexorably toward the political abyss ahead of California. [Townhall, 5/31/16]

    Hot Air's Ed Morrissey: "I Like And Respect David, But This Can’t Be Right.”

    [, 5/31/16]

    Morrissey: A French Candidacy Is “Like Picking George Will To Pitch For Your Fantasy Baseball Team.”

    [, 5/31/16]

    NY Times Columnist Ross Douthat: “Both David French And Bill Kristol Will Be Mocked If French Is The #NeverTrump Candidate.”

    [, 5/31/16]

  • Right-Wing Media Lash Out Over President Obama’s Call For Protections For Transgender Students

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    President Obama is expected to announce “a sweeping directive” that will instruct public school districts around the country “to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity” in order to prevent discrimination. Right-wing media figures are already lashing out at the initiative claiming it is driven by “a fringe movement of nutters” and peddling the myth that protections for transgender students will lead to the sexual assault of girls.

  • 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.