American conservative commentator Ben Shapiro has admitted he was “destroyed” in a TV interview this week with British journalist Andrew Neil after being widely mocked for storming out of the debate and telling Neil: “I’m popular, and no one has ever heard of you.”
Shapiro complained repeatedly throughout the interview, on the BBC’s “Politics Live” program, as the longtime broadcaster and former newspaper editor pressed him on some of his previous comments.
“This is a giant waste of time, in the sense that the entire interview is designed for you to shout slogans or old things that I’ve said at me,” he told Neil.
“I’m not inclined to continue an interview with a person as badly motivated as you,” he said, cutting the interview short despite earlier telling Neil he had “reached out to so many people across the aisle to have conversations with them.”
The commentator took part in the interview to promote a new book, but the conversation turned tense when Neil quizzed Shapiro on his support of a controversial new abortion law in the state of Georgia.
Shapiro asked Neil — who once was a researcher for Britain’s Conservative Party and now chairs the group that operates conservative magazine The Spectator — why he would not “just say that you’re on the left.”
“Mr. Shapiro, if you only knew how ridiculous that statement is, you wouldn’t have said it,” Neil replied.
Shapiro was angered when Neil asked whether such legislation in Georgia takes the United States back to “the dark ages.” The law, which would generally would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected — sometimes as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — has prompted some companies to say they will boycott the state. It goes into effect in January.
Shapiro then asked: “Are you an objective journalist or are you an opinion journalist?” He added, “(The) BBC purports to be an objective, down-the-middle network. It obviously is not; it never has been.”
Many on social media mocked the commentator, who has worked for Breitbart, hosts “The Ben Shapiro Show” and has appeared on networks including CNN, for his responses to Neil’s questions.
Responding to the criticism, he wrote on Twitter: “(Andrew Neil) DESTROYS Ben Shapiro! So that’s what that feels like 😉 Broke my own rule, and wasn’t properly prepared.”
After taping the interview but before it aired, Shapiro said he had apologized to Neil. “As I’m not familiar with him or his work, I misinterpreted his antagonism as political Leftism … that was apparently inaccurate. For that, I apologize,” he said.
Neil pointed out that the website Shapiro edits, The Daily Wire, had praised him for an earlier interview he conducted about Venezuela.
To a commentator who suggested he was “rude” to Shapiro, Neil replied: “I tend to take the opposite position from those I interview. It’s a useful way to test their positions. It tells you nothing of my own views. What do American interviewers do?”