Last week something unexpected happened — hundreds of thousands of Americans decided to tune in to British television to see what was happening across the pond.
In merry England, political commentator and bestselling author Ben Shapiro wasn’t having so merry a time.
Broadcaster Andrew Neil tortured Shapiro in an interview for the BBC, until his guest simply got up and left.
For his part, Shapiro admitted on Twitter that Neil “DESTROYED” him, which is quite a role reversal for a pundit used to EVISCERATING any liberal who stands in his path.
For many consumers of political news, this latest Ben Shapiro interview was especially triggering because it was nearly a word-for-word reenactment of the now-infamous Jordan Peterson-Cathy Newman interview on Channel 4, another British news channel.
While Peterson and Shapiro couldn’t be more different in their respective backgrounds and philosophical orientations, both men are dyed-in-the-wool conservatives who aren’t afraid to offend the tender sensibilities of left-wing journalists.
And this is exactly why Neil and Newman showed themselves hell-bent on mischaracterizing every statement and position Peterson and Shapiro have ever had the audacity to take in opposition to liberal dogma and doctrine.
Notice how Neil and Newman both deployed the same technique against their would-be conservative victims?
First, each of them took quotes from Peterson and Shapiro out of their original context and presented them in the most unflattering and uncharitable of lights.
Second, both of the presenters quoted the narratives of Peterson’s and Shapiro’s ideological enemies against them, as if these narratives were statements of fact rather than opinion.
In each case, Neil and Newman expected their interviewees to simply assume the legitimacy of these quotes.
If this wasn’t the case, they wouldn’t have used leading questions throughout the entirety of their interviews (and as we all know from court dramas, leading questions, in addition to being objectionable, can only be answered with a yes or no — they permit no explanation.)
In American politics, these are known as “gotcha questions.”
Faced with an avalanche of gotchas and no means of explanation, Shapiro had no choice but to walk off the interview — after spending 16 minutes trying to get across his own point of view rather than having Neil put words in his mouth.
Peterson was more successful — but only because he, unlike Shapiro, managed to keep his cool and quickly explain how Newman was mischaracterizing his positions.
But this begs the larger question: Why should international audiences — especially American citizens familiar with their country’s brand of conservatism — take British television seriously ever again?
If people want to know what firebrands like Shapiro and Peterson believe, they can easily search for and watch their YouTube videos or podcasts.
We’re no longer in the Stone Age of the early 2000s — we don’t have to rely on some hack journalist to provide us copious amounts of (mis)information on a political personage.
In the Age of the Internet, where everyone is a journalist, everyone can get their point across without the “help” of established news organizations.
But the decline of the political news media — especially British television, which once had a sterling reputation for quality and accuracy — is a sad development indeed.
Instead of learning about the glories of Western civilization or its great authors, artists and actors, the BBC is only interested in reducing the number of white men that appear on air — and, as Andrew Neil has shown, by quite literally chasing them off their interviews.