Breitbart News Editor-at-Large Ben Shapiro isn’t necessarily an angry person, but he plays one on TV, on Twitter and on a new site he’s spearheading called TruthRevolt, a new media outlet he hopes will revolutionize American media as we know it. Quick translation? The 29-year-old Editor-in-Chief wants to destroy the left, as in destroy the advertising dollars that go to what he perceives are left-wing media outlets such as ABC, NBC, CBS and others. In essence, he wants to be the right-wing version Media Matters. An Andrew Breitbart disciple in every cell of his being, he reels off quotes from his deceased mentor with ease. Thanks to some appearances on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Live,” he’s also gotten death threats and keeps a shotgun in his home. By phone, Shapiro is actually quite sweet — he even invited me to Shabbat dinner at his home when and if I’m ever in LA. It’s an offer he says he makes to any new acquaintance.
Now in the fight of his life, he took time on his hilly drive to a Fox News appearance this week to speak with me at length by phone. Amid the anger, we discovered a softer side to Shapiro that isn’t on the warpath.
Why did you decide to do this? Did the conservative gods give you the nod?
B.S.: “As far as the conservative gods, I’m not sure what conservatives gods are, but Andrew Breitbart, one of my mentors and Andrew Horowitz, who I’ve known since I was 17, were big on using whatever tactics are at our disposal to make the left live up to its own standards. When it comes to utilization of market power, to make a difference in the political debate, the right has for a long time been quite shy.”
Why is that?
B.S.: “I think that it is largely because the right sort of believes there was a quasi détente on the question of whether advertisers should be held responsible by consumers for their advertising choices. The right was wrong about that. There was no détente. Interest groups on the left have been doing what we’re talking about for years. Conservatives consumers don’t have anyone serving a similar function on the right.”
Who are the worst offenders and where is Shapiro’s softer side?
Who are the worst offenders?
B.S.: “I think the broadcast networks, CBS, NBC, ABC in terms of pretending objectivity while pushing a far from objective agenda.”
And you’re going to show this on your site?
B.S.: “Yes. The folks we’re bringing attention to it, this pretend heavily leftist world view.”
So a lot of TV watching.
B.S. “Yes, a lot of TV watching, newspaper reading. A lot of information gathering from college campuses. It’s a big battle and there are a lot of targets. Everyone has a right to speak freely on politics. The question is whether advertisers should be able to advertise basically thanks to the ignorance of the general public.”
I take it Breitbart had a big influence on you.
B.S.: “He was an inspirational figure.. He spoke of walking toward the fire. It’s one phrase Andrew was very fond of. Certainly the media is not going to be on our side. My feeling is what he meant by that is that it’s important to embrace the fight. I feel like I don’t have a choice. This was a point Andrew was making. You can walk toward the fire, or the fight can come to you. You sit around and you try to speak the truth and folks on the left demonize you and try to destroy your career and livelihood and think if I just keep my mouth shut everything will just be okay.”
Are you at all worried about being hated?
B.S.: ” You have to not care. That’s a given. Anyone who speaks out loudly will be demonized by the left as a morally repugnant human being. It’s definitely hard. Everybody likes to be liked. Andrew was a very nice person. I tend to think of myself as a pretty nice human being. I don’t have any pets. I am married and we have baby due in January. A baby girl. She just started kicking over the weekend. My wife woke me up in the middle of the night and said, ‘Put your hand here.’”
If you had to have dinner with three liberal journalists who would they be?
B.S.: “Jake Tapper I feel is liberal but honest. I would have fun having dinner with Arianna Huffington. I’d disagree with her on everything but she’d be fun to talk to. Ben Smith from BuzzFeed. He’s clever. I like his business concept. I’d like to pick his brain.”
Why not do this by friendlier means? Is that even possible?
B.S.: “I think the right has been trying that for years and it hasn’t worked. I’m always happen to engage in conversation, but I won’t stand for the great lie or telling lies from the left or people on the left saying people on the right are bad human beings.”
Do you have pets? What do you do to relax?
B.S.: “No, no pets. I work out once a day. I used to be a concert-level violinist and I still play. I’m a huge movie watcher. I’ve seen every Oscar-nominated film since 1933. As far as blowing off steam, I have very close friends, a very very tight-knit family, I’m very close with my parents, and I’m madly in love with my wife so I have a very tight support system.”
So ultimately, are you trying to carry Breitbart’s torch?
B.S.: “No I don’t think any individual is capable of carrying Andrew’s torch. As I said eulogizing him, my feeling is that Andrew dropped the torch and he gave us all lighters.”
Your end goal?
B.S.: “I don’t believe in the concept of journalism. I believe in activist journalism. We all have biases and political predilections. To say that someone is through and through an objective journalist is a big lie.”